A medium-sized stream cutting through a forest.

The recent Academy Awards were uninspiring. So, we watched one of our favorite films, The King’s Speech. It isn’t surprising that two speech coaches would gravitate to a film about a speech therapist who coached the King of England to overcome his stutter. Yet this 2010 film won Academy Awards for Best Actor, Best Film, Best Director, and Best Screenplay.

The real Speech Coach, Lionel Logue didn’t leave notes on his methods. So, the creative team on the film, along with co-star Geoffrey Rush used vocal techniques from the theatre. One method was the use of flow so that George wouldn’t anticipate his stutter and get stuck. When King George was on air and about to stutter, the Logue character silently mouthed curse words (to distract him) and waved his hands like a conductor, which allowed The King to carry on without a hitch.

Quite often, speakers bobble a word or stumble over a phrase, making them stop. This can cause them to turn red, berate themselves, or lose the rhythm and flow of their presentation. An axiom in theatre acting is that during a performance, you do not have the luxury of stopping or self-monitoring, even for a second. You must push on, stay on point and proceed as if nothing had happened. What’s important is being in the present, not thinking ahead or remembering the past.

Give yourself a treat and watch The King’s Speech for other great speaking tips and warm-ups, quality filmmaking, and especially, great performances by Colin Firth, Geoffrey Rush and Helena Bonham Carter.

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