There is no doubt that Kate Middleton projects poise, prestige, and presence. As an international spokesperson, she needs to present authentically and with political savvy. This first speech was self-written and less than four minutes. She did little “wrong,” but from a coaching point of view, I see an opportunity for her to improve.
First the positives:
1- She took the time she needed to center herself and started her speech with silence.
2- She spoke clearly and directed her words, making with eye contact with her audience.
3- She limited her presentation to a key theme, The Tree House, and thanked the public for their support of the children’s hospice.
4- She personalized her speech using “I” in a heartfelt manner, e.g. “When I fist visited…” and, “Today I see…”
Raising the bar on Kate’s speaking.
Watching Kate this morning, it appeared that she was coached to read a sentence in silence, then scoop up the written words into memory before voicing her message to the audience. That’s a speaking best practice, but using this technique one sentence at a time can detract from the speaker and the content. That’s what I experienced with Kate. She looked down to “get” a single sentence into her memory, then looked up to deliver it to her audience. Inevitably, she would be looking down at the last few words of each sentence. I began to anticipate this pattern and I bet other viewers did as well.
Kate’s speech was simple. She greeted and thanked her audience, mentioned her wish for her husband to be with her, and shared appreciation for those who supported the children’s hospice. Did she really need those notes?
Of course, I would have preferred that she didn’t have them written word for word, but that said, what she did deliver was simple, sound and safe.