Simon Bucknall is a renowned public speaking expert, who, naturally enough I first heard talk at Ted X London this summer. Simon is passionate about creating greater inspirational impact through the art of verbal communication—a skill all too often overlooked in today’s society.
Over the past decade, Simon has helped professionals from all walks of life take their speaking skills to the next level. His clients span senior figures across all industry, refugees, social entrepreneurs, government ministers, wedding speakers, as well as school children and prison inmates. Without being able to communicate our message clearly, what are we and what hope do we have?
“A former education secretary of this country once said “Children naturally learn to speak, they don’t naturally learn to read,” which, in my view, is an absurd distinction.”[6:49]
In Simon’s talk he describes four key skills society needs to keep in mind while moving forward: collaboration, critical thinking, creativity, communication – but there are some inherent issues in that last one, communication. It’s a skill we take for granted. It’s not a part of core curriculum in education, which also translates over to policy makers.
There is an idea that once you’re literate, your ability to speak just naturally improves over time. So, there is an emphasis on analytical reading skills in education and speaking is seen as a “soft skill” something easy. This just simply isn’t the case, especially when under pressure and there are things at stake while speaking.
Whether it is speaking at a wedding, speaking to colleagues, pitching an idea before a company’s board—communication is key to success. In the mid 2000’s an inner city study showed the average student spoke 4 words per school lesson. It’s simply not being reinforced in education. Teachers are incentivised to have their students study for tests, mainly focused on reading and reading comprehension.
“One of the big challenges in public speaking is handling disruption, you never know what’s going to happen.”[16:16]
After an awkward mid-interview interruption, we go into things that scare people while speaking in public. At the core of it, it’s a fear of appearing silly. A fear of tarnishing your reputation. If may be you are afraid of sounding dumb in front of classmates, or in a business setting, you have to establish your credibility to present ideas to others. And just look at politics, not speaking correctly and communicating clearly can have huge ramifications.[22:51]
Simon has spent years breaking down barriers for people to help them engage in public speaking. In working in the middle east, Simon grabbed a vase and set it in the middle of the room—telling everyone to pretend that it was a campfire, and they were going to sit around it and share stories, something integral to the culture. This completely changed the energy in the room and opened people up to tell some powerful stories, something that is sorely missing in corporate settings.
Simon has worked for charities, including I CAN – an organization that works to support children with learning and communication needs across the country.
Simon finds himself doing more one-on-one work with clients on top of larger groups (100+) and if you are interested in seeing more of his work or finding coaching sessions.
You can find Simon at