I can remember it like it was yesterday. I was eleven years old and I was asked to give a reading at my school Christmas carol service.
In fairness, at the age of eleven I didn't know then that I could eventually speak for a living, but in hindsight it was a moment when I realised that I enjoyed speaking in front of an audience.
My Mum took it very seriously, and every day for three weeks had me repeatedly stand at the top of the stairs in our house while she (and our dog) stood at the bottom. She gently coached me to read slowly, with sincerity, to look her (and the dog) in the eye and to speak slightly over their heads.
My Mum knew a thing or two about making an impact too. She had been an ice dancer in her twenties and noticed in competitions that judges often missed the start of a skater's routine because they were busy talking to each other or still looking down and finishing their scoring for the previous performer.
She wanted to make sure that the judges saw every second of her routine, so arranged to have music that had a big introduction, but with a moment or two of silence before the piece really got going. In that brief moment of silence the judges would look up - and it was then that she started her ice dance routine.
Speaking in front of an audience is one thing, but getting their full attention right from the start is not necessarily so easy! But the first line of my carol service reading definitely did the trick.
"And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night..."
And so began my love of speaking. When did you first realise that you loved speaking in front of an audience?
By Philip Calvert
It's been a long time since I read quite so much comment about a speech - particularly one from a politician.
But what has fascinated me, is that much of the comment has been about the mastery of the delivery rather than the content, the message and the politics.
I'm using the speech as pre-course homework for a presentation and speaking skills workshop that I'm running later this month, as it demonstrates some superb skills.
Watch the video and feel free to comment on what speaking and presentation techniques he is using. (Opinions are appreciated, but we're only interested in the speaking techniques - not the politics! Thank you.)
I was going through some old photos today, and found this one taken in Singapore. It was a marketing event and I was there to speak about how to plan, promote and present successful seminars.
My book Successful Seminar Selling had been published the previous year, so it was a good opportunity to give it some promotion in Singapore - an area where everyone loves seminars.
One of the tips I include in the book is that when you are marketing or promoting a seminar, you should always say that your event will be a "great networking opportunity" for attendees.
As well as the fantastic content that attendees will hear at your event, people are naturally drawn to opportunities where people like themselves will be attending. People like being with other people, so express that as a great networking opportunity, and it will help to get attendees to your seminar seminar or event.
As it turned out, it was a great networking opportunity for me too, as when I was there I discovered these well known, top speakers (left to right) Roger Harrop, Patricia Wheatley Burt, Frank Furness and personal branding expert Lesley Everett. Oh, and that's me on the right.