By Fflur Sheppard

I gave an interview today to Garry Owen on his show Taro'r Post on BBC Radio Cymru.

The programme, which translates from Welsh into “Hitting the Post”, is the equivalent of Jeremy Vine’s current affairs show on Radio 2.

As a crisis communications expert, I was asked to comment on Theresa May’s speech at the Conservative Party Conference.

Here’s what I said (translated from Welsh of course):

 On the whole, it’s obvious that the speech wasn’t a success. 

Taking a negative view, the situation was a metaphor for her leadership.  The coughing, the awkward water drinking, signs falling off the stage, a P45 in the middle of everything.

On the other hand, she coped with it all pretty well.

She’s been accused of being robotic in the past, of being cold and impersonal.  By carrying on, she showed a strength of character and we could relate to her on a human level.  She was struggling on stage and many of us may have felt emotionally empathetic towards her.

The papers have clearly been merciless.  To them, this should be the last step on a path of ineffective leadership.  Just as Nixon sweating during his presidential debate with Kennedy in 1960 handed his rival victory, the pictures of Theresa May wincing on stage are more powerful than anything she said.

This might be the end of her political career – time will tell – but it’s definitely a great example of how the theatre of a speech is often as or more important than the message of a speech.

Among the advice we give people preparing for public speaking is the importance of practicing.  If you practice enough, you can stay relaxed if something goes awry.

If  the unexpected does happen, it’s important to roll with the punches and use it as an opportunity to show your personality.  Laugh with the audience – don’t let them laugh at you.

And importantly, remember that the context of what you say and how you say it is just as important as the content.

We deal with many public figures who value our crisis media training courses, which teach you how to say the right thing using the correct tone of voice - either when talking to the Press, or public speaking in general.

We stop them looking hesitant and defensive, helping them come across as concerned, confident and in control.

When dialogue is necessary, we ensure our clients are properly prepared by rehearsing with them in front of a TV camera - so they can look at their body language as much as the words they say.

It’s important to leave nothing to chance and connect with the hearts and minds of viewers and listeners. That’s when our Crisis Consultancy really comes into its own, and our clients are glad to have us on their side.


For more details of our crisis communications services, call us now on 0800 612 9890.