What anyone who speaks in public should learn from Entwistle

London - 12th November 2012 - Lest any chief executive or corporate spokesperson take their public speaking responsibilties lightly, this weekend’s events must surely act as a cautionary tale. From the moment George Entwistle first convened a press conference to answer the initial raft of Jimmy Savile questions, his media handling skills appeared woefully inadequate. He looked alone, nervous and poorly prepared. A man who by all accounts is rather a good one was sunk as much as anything by lack of preparation.
So many people could and should have helped him. He looked uncomfortable in his surroundings. His facial expressions betrayed uncertainty and anxiety. His messages, if there were any, were confusing. He may have been in control of the BBC, but he didn’t look or sound like its Director –General. You have to wonder who was giving him advice.
Preparing to speak publicly makes most people nervous. That’s why preparation is essential. Not just understanding the rules of media engagement, but knowing your message and understanding how you appear, how you sound, on stage, on TV or on the radio. George Entwistle faced a storm of issues which would have challenged the most experienced leader. Without the requisite preparation, the poor chap didn’t stand a chance.