On Speaking Well Enough, by John-Paul Flintoff


Become a Better Speaker in 30 Days


Hello, welcome.

For reasons best known to you, you’re here – reading a page about “Speaking Well Enough”.

I hope it’s not presumptuous to offer this assurance:


  • If you want to make the world a better place, you have more chance if you tell people.
  • If you dread making presentations for work, you can learn to overcome that.
  • If you dread making a speech at a private event, you can learn to overcome that.
  • If you’re self employed, you can acquire confidence sharing your work with a wider audience.
  • If you’re a speech-writer, but rarely give speeches yourself, you can learn what your clients are going through.
  • If you give some kinds of talks already, you can extend your repertoire.
  • And in this age of Zoom, you can always pick up more techniques to make online engagement work for you.

“I’ve hated public speaking all my life and I suspect it’s held me back both professionally & socially – will watch out for what’s coming with much interest.”
- email from P.K.



John-Paul Flintoff headshot, with Yours Truly written across itHi, I’m John-Paul Flintoff. This part of my website is about the art of Speaking Well Enough. It builds on A Modest Book About How To Make An Adequate Speech (available in all good bookshops) with practical videos and downloads for you to follow.



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What Is It Worth To Be A Confident Speaker?

In my own case, shifting from being “just” a writer to being a confident speaker meant an entirely new career, with lots of opportunities.

I was happy as a journalist, on prestigious titles (an award-winning writer on the Financial Times magazine, then the Sunday Times) but digital media made the future for journalism look risky.

So I wrote a book, and gave talks about it that people seemed to enjoy, with laughter and solemn nods (at the right moments). These talks – and then workshops – led to me being invited to write another book, How To Change The World, that was published in 16 languages, and in turn led to me addressing crowds of up to 5,000 people, on four continents.



As a journalist I was used to interviewing amazing people. Now I was being interviewed by journalists (in Mexico once, to my astonishment, by 20 journalists together).

I couldn’t have imagined that any of these opportunities would come my way. Learning to speak publicly has been priceless.

I didn’t plan to write a book about public speaking. My agent suggested it. I hated the idea of writing a guide to fakery and manipulation. So I said, I’ll write it if I can call it A Modest Book About How To Make An Adequate Speech. I thought that might put him off.

OK, he said, great!

Having written the book, but before it was published, I created a 30 day course to teach the essentials of classic rhetoric, plus lessons from my training in theatrical improvisation.

I kept the numbers small, so that participants could get to know each other and practice new skills in a private group. Also: I wanted to be sure it would work.

Keep reading to find out what happened.

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A Specimen Of Public Speaker

Recently, I read the obituary of a man once voted the greatest sports commentator of all time.

“His unquenchable enthusiasm,” the newspaper wrote, “could grip even those to whom [the sport] was unintelligible.”

If, like me, you never cared much for Formula One racing, I encourage you to think about Murray Walker as a specimen of public speaker.

I could have chosen somebody else, but after reading his obituary I thought – well, why not him?

Take a moment to contemplate Walker’s job. Imagine that you are about to take his place at short notice. Here’s what you need to do:


  • talk interestingly;
  • about an unplanned sequence of events that unfold before you, mostly on a screen, but perhaps sometimes off the screen;
  • about events involving people you know personally, whose lives are in danger at every moment;
  • sustain the interest, and enthusiasm, for a longish period.

Terrifying, no? But somehow Walker managed this – month after month, year after year. On the next page, I’ll explain how.


Keep Reading…



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