5 royal communication lessons from ‘The King’s Speech’

The Oscar nominated film encourages us all to speak with confidence.

If I were famed movie critic Roger Ebert, I would recommend that anyone who communicates with another human being should see the acclaimed movie, “The King’s Speech.” I’m not the only one impressed with this movie. It’s been nominated for 12 Academy Awards.

This is not just for professional communicators, bloggers, or PR pros. There are layers of lessons in this film. Here’s the thumbnail; the takeaway’s follow.

“The Kings Speech” is based on the true story of King George VI, played by Colin Firth. Following the 1939 death of his father and the abdication of his older brother, “Bertie” reluctantly assumes the role of monarch. England is on the brink of war and desperately needs a strong leader. Here’s the problem: Bertie has stammered and stuttered all of his life. He’s afraid to jump into this very public role. The underlying reasons for his speech impediment run deep. Bertie’s able to address the challenge with the help of an eccentric speech therapist, Lionel Logue, portrayed by actor Geoffrey Rush. As the speech therapy evolves, so does a touching and unexpected friendship between the men.

Here are five communication lessons for all of us:

1. Have faith in your voice.

Bertie was so accustomed to being teased and ignored by the powerful men in his family, that he actually believed he didn’t have a voice. That’s why he couldn’t get the words out. Are your words getting stuck in your throat like Bertie’s?

2. Listen to me!

Here’s a dialogue between Bertie and Lionel:

King: L-listen to me…listen to me!

Lionel: Why should I waste my time listening to you?

King: Because I have a voice!

Lionel: …yes, you do.

Are you using your voice in the most effective way possible? Are you silently begging others to pay attention to your message, brand, or blog post? As Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg has said: Do you have a seat at the table or are you on the perimeter? You have a voice. Yes, you do.

3. Present your best version.

In an interview, actor Geoffrey Rush (Lionel), said, “I think there’s a greater metaphor at work. You could see this film and not think it’s a film about someone who stammers but about how do we present the best versions of ourselves.”

Are you proud or shamed by your public persona? How is that conveyed to others? How can you do better?

4. Open your mouth … and …

Richard Brooks included this line in his review in the Sunday Times: “Just before the opening of parliament in November 1940, he (Bertie) wrote: ‘Logue, I’ve got the jitters. I woke up at one this morning after dreaming I was in parliament with my mouth wide open and I could not say a word.’ “

Have you experienced the nightmare of being speechless? The minds of communicators can be cruel. Could you possibly run out of words?

5. Speak to and for the people.

Colin Firth said, “Rhetoric was important in that job. When he spoke, the nation felt he spoke to and for them. Yet he felt that he couldn’t speak.”

Do you feel you can speak and connect with others? Or are you hiding behind the quotes, blog posts, and tweets that you ghostwrite for someone else?


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