Talking points

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 02 August, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 02 August, 2009, 12:00am

Perhaps it was two decades in the 'silent service' that made John Miers so keen to talk. The former submarine commander in, and later media spokesman for, Britain's Royal Navy went on to coach politicians and other public figures in the tricks of the personal-appearance trade, teaching them how to avoid boring audiences into a coma while ensuring their message was remembered.

He now shares his advice in Hit Me Again! ... I Can Still Hear Him! (Black Isle Consultants, HK$148) cajoling the panicky and prompting the more professional into speaking clearly and confidently. The point is to be yourself and project your personality. 'Talking is what people love to do more than anything,' said Miers at a recent presentation at a Central branch of Bookazine. 'We're great communicators - but to deliver a great speech you don't have to be smooth and polished.'

Miers says this 'natural' approach is overlooked by millions of internet entries on 'fear of public speaking' and those coaching manuals that seem to stress the importance of pomposity and verbosity rather than interaction. But as he says in Hit Me Again! 'the more relaxed and engaged the conversation the more difficult it is to find any complete sentences. This is how we talk.'

The titular anecdote summarises the despair often inflicted on listeners by speakers. As Miers writes: '... the CEO had been droning on, delivering one of the most boring speeches. Suddenly ... a large piece of plaster from the ceiling fell onto a man ... As they lifted him off the floor they heard him whisper, 'Hit me again, I can still hear him!''