Friday, January 26, 2007

A Frustrated Stand-Up Comedian?

Tonight I am off the speak to Chatham & Aylesford Conservatives. First of all they are holding a 'blogging seminar' and then I have to perform at their annual dinner. I was invited to do this before they selected their new candidate, Tracey Crouch, who's also a good friend of mine. I have to say I never look forward to 'performing' in front of friends. Somehow you're under more pressure to do well. Still, it's her first big moment with her Association since her selection so I imagine we'll be indulging in a bit of mutual heckling.

Public speaking is a really odd thing. Few people will ever have the guts to tell you that you've made a bad speech, so when people tell you you've made a really good one, you tend to automatically disbelieve them. I never look forward to making speeches but once I'm in the swing of it and I get some laughs I am in my element. Laughs are the key to my speeches. If I don't make them laugh three times in the first two minutes I then feel as if I am sinking quickly and scrabbling for a lifejacket. Maybe I am just a frustrated stand-up comedian. Perhaps best not to delve into that one too much!

So, share your best and worst public speaking moments in the Comments...

23 comments:

Anonymous said...

Dont't forget Iain speak up ,they won't hear you from the front

Anonymous said...

I once went along to represent my boss at the handing in of a petition from the Iranian community to the Red Cross about relief work after the Bam earthquake.

When I got there the street was closed off by police and several hundred Iranians behind crowd barriers were waving placards and shouting slogans against the regime in Tehran. I found the organiser, who thanked me for coming, and told me I would be "up next", pointing to a podium where an excited Iranian dissident was coming to the climax of his rant, to deafening cheers.

The next few minutes remain a blur in my memory as stepped forward and stumbled to say something coherent without causing an international incident - and ended by shouting "We are with you!"

One of the most surreal and terrifying experiences of my life.

Parliamentary researcher

Stuart Bruce said...

It's true you never think you've done well when you're speaking. And it is 1,000 times harder in front of friends/family than it is to strangers.

simon said...

If things get bad, just think about Bliar in front of the WI! That should make you feel slightly better!

Anonymous said...

I enjoy it when I get get chance but it takes a bit of practice .I would imagine Iain that you would very good at it and you would have plenty of interest to say as well.


I `m shocked ..shocked at the necessity for laughs though. I am always entirely serious intent only on flaying evil Liberals with the superior forces of Conservatism

Anonymous said...

The worst public speaking scenario is where the elderly speaker starts by telling one of the "standard" after-dinner jokes. He's so slow and boring that people start to titter. Encouraged by this, the speaker gets even worse. The laughter increases. By the time the punchline comes around, the entire audience is in hysterics. But they're not laughing at the joke at all. They're laughing at the speaker. Who still doesn't get it.

Anonymous said...

Best After Dinner Speaker - William Hague.

Worst After Dinner Speaker - Justine Greening

Philipa said...

Michael Gove is the best public speaker I've ever seen/heard. Saw him at an Intelligence Squared debate, which was excellent.

I was pressed into asking a question and in reply he fudged beautifully. Well it was about Conservative policy.

graeme said...

To Chatham & Aylesford Conservatives

Don't laugh, especially in the first two minutes. Then watch him sweat.

Anonymous said...

In any event, you would have to go some to be worse than Geoff Hoon on Question Time last night. No matter what he said he was unable to get the audience on his side. His performance ranks along side Hazel Blears. When are these muppets going to get the message that you cannot defend the indefensible when it comes down to Tony Blair and John Reid?

Colin D. said...

When you have finished up there in fog land, come on down here to Dover. Both of us will be here. "sensible liberal conservatives that is"

Schoolboy-Error said...

Did you catch the beginning of the 1 o'clock BBC news?(Can't remember precise words) 'Trying to keep up with the Conservatives' tough approach on crime led to too many people being in prisons'.This is the kind of subliminal methods that the BBC has maintained for many years.I'm looking forward to a substantial improvement in my financial situation in the near future and if anyone can point me in the direction of a technical way of collating all these misleading (purposely so IMO) examples of left wing media tampering then I would be happy to give financial furtherance to that enterprise.

Anonymous said...

Best- Michael Heseltine doing an impression of Winston Churchill, I laughed then realised I was the only one, because he was not joking just being statesmanlike.

Worst doing a presentation to 400 hundred people at a Housing conference, finished my bit, and my co presenter got stage fright, clammed up and I had to do his bit as well.

Anonymous said...

I am reminded of that great show 'Shooting Stars' and the 'Tumbleweed' joke each week...

Jonathan Sheppard said...

The hardest thing -Im sure Iain will appreciate is when you are a candidate doing the rounds of social events - and having to come up with new material for the same people who attend - week in week out.

Have you heard the one about....

kinglear said...

Best: Eulogy for my wife's grandfather. He was a famous doctor in Glasgow and also chairman of the Board of the Glasgow School of Art. The subject matter made it easy, everyone was on my side and it went like a dream. Even if I say so myself, I liked the line " .. with that irascible love that made people his slaves"
worst: wedding of a cousin of mine. The families hated each other, everyone was really drunk, didn't want to listen to ANY speeches, especially after the best man was inaudible and made a joke that one of the bridesmaids took exception to. I hurriedly chopped two pages to about 10 lines, and managed to sit down before the fighting started

Sabretache said...

Back in 1982 I stood in a short notice for Sir Anthony Buck at a 'peace-movement' meeting in his Billericay constituency. He had been called to attend an emergency Commons debate on the Falklands invasion and I attended in his stead for the British Atlantic Committee. It was at the height of the controversy over the deployment of Cruise and Pershing missiles in response to USSR deployment of SS20's in Europe and I was a rookie at it, albeit with some insight into the visciousness with which the assembled peace-lovers could treat those they regarded as war-mongers at such meetings. I was nervous as I stood up to speak to an undercurrent of booing and hissing.

My opening sentence - "I apologise that the big guns are unable to be here tonight". Honest - that's what I said! - I never recovered from it. It confirmed my warlike one-track mind on the issue and the audience in their self-righteous condemnation. Oh dear.

Andrew Kennedy said...

Iain -

I have circulated a link to this post to the entire Chatham and Aylesford membership (both of us) along with strict instructions not to laugh.

(By the way - we are all Charlton supporters down here!)

Andrew Kennedy said...

By the way... in answer to your question.

About 15 years ago travelled a good 100 miles to speak at a meeting of a Conservative Women’s Committee in the West Midlands.


I was surprised to find about 60 in the audience, but from the start of my speech my attention was drawn by a particularly cantankerous old biddy on the front row who spent the entire meeting with her hand cupped to her ear.

After about 10 minutes she turned to her friend and in that clarion voice unique to deaf old women said, "I can't hear a word he's saying." To which her friend replied (equally loudly), "don't worry Maisie you're not missing much."

Trumpeter Lanfried said...

Best public speaker I ever heard (live) was the late Brian Johnston. Relaxed, witty, affable, just as if he was chatting to you in the pub. The minutes flew by. A fund of anecdotes, but all sounded fresh and fizzy, as if he had just remembered them. Sadly missed.

Richard said...

Don't worry, Iain - as long as you don't try and tell the "Stephen Ladyboy" story from 18 Doughty St earlier this week you'll be fine!!

Chuck Unsworth said...

I watched John Selwyn Gummer speak once - not expecting much at all, given his previous Ministerial performance, and was transfixed by his incisive and elegant speech. One of those rare moments of pleasure when listening to a political speech.

Good luck. Oh, and not all of us are Charlton supporters. There's a thin blue line (of which I am a part) of Millwall supporters - or thugs as we prefger to be called.

'Nobody likes us and we don't care'!

Anonymous said...

getting up at 4am to fly to edinburgh for a speech, getting to the venue, sorting everything out (name pronunciation, etc), getting a great intro, walking to the speaker's podium during applause, only to find that my slides weren't, as i had expected, on a laptop in front of me on the podium.

Had to stop, apologise to the audience, walk back to panelist desk, find a copy of the slide handouts, and walk all the way back to start speaking again.