On the pleasure (and perils) of public speaking

Public speaking can strike fear into the hearts of the most competent people. Here, writer and coach Richard Holman offers his advice on how to get through it, and maybe even learn to enjoy it

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Although I never intended it to happen, I have become someone who makes a living from public speaking: over the past 20 years I’ve given a lot of talks. Sometimes it’s a masterclass with 20 or so people, other times it’s a keynote delivered to hundreds of anonymous faces from the centre of a brightly lit stage.

There have been some wonderful moments, where I’ve felt at one with an audience hungry for every word. And then there have been some, erm, less wonderful moments, like the time in Mumbai when an evening indulging in street food exacted a humiliating and very public price the following morning as I walked to the lectern.