“You cannot do better than convince people that what you’re saying is absolutely authentic and you would live and die by it”
Better Angels podcast, Celebrities, Sarah Brown, What is advocacy?
In a new episode of her Better Angels podcast, Sarah Brown talks to Sir Patrick Stewart, Ed Balls, Christy Turlington Burns and Laura Bates about how to find your voice and use it for good causes.
We all have opinions – but speaking out in public on an issue you care passionately about can be daunting.
Even famous people who perform regularly on TV or in films can find it difficult to bring out their activist voice when talking about causes that are very personal to them.
In the latest episode of her Better Angels podcast series – titled Finding Your Voice 2 – Theirworld President Sarah Brown talks to world-renowned actor Sir Patrick Stewart, supermodel and maternal health campaigner Christy Turlington Burns, politician, economist (and now TV dancer) Ed Balls and feminist writer and Everyday Sexism project founder Laura Bates.
On public speaking, Sir Patrick said: “If you can convince yourself that people are eager to hear you, the way you communicate with them has to be clear, lucid and – if emotions are involved, if strong feelings are involved – authentically felt
“You cannot do better than convince people that what you’re saying is absolutely authentic and you stand by it and you would live and die by it.”
The actor is best known for the long-running TV series Star Trek: Next Generation, the X-Men films and his many acclaimed theatre roles. But he is also a passionate campaigner on social justice, domestic violence and war veteran’s mental health issues.
Sarah asked him for tips about public speaking and being heard on stage.
He said: “Coaching, training, I would urge people to do that. Practising, doing a warm-up before you speak is always very important, getting exercises that you can do.
“Humour in public speaking, I think, is terrifically important. Once an audience has laughed once or a couple of times they’re on your side and you can speak to them with confidence.”
Christy Turlington Burns is the founder and CEO of Every Mother Counts.
She found that telling the very personal story of her childbirth complication led her to speak out about the huge numbers of girls and women who die in childbirth around the world.
Asked about public speaking, she said: “I think like most people it can be terrifying, especially early on when you’re in different realms.
“I had an experience that I’d tell everybody – your personal experience is powerful. We can all speak from our own truth and our own life experiences.
“When you’re in a room and you’re talking to people and they’re with you, that elevates the whole experience.”
Ed Balls was a member of the British government cabinet. Since leaving politics he has written a book and become hugely popular on the primetime TV show Strictly Come Dancing.
Sarah asked him about “his newfound freedom and confidence from finding his voice”.
Ed only fully understood when he was 40 and in the cabinet that he had a stammer that affected his ability to give speeches or answer questions.
He said: “Once you’ve stammered live on Radio Four and the House of Commons and dealt with it and come out on the other side, nothing ever seems quite as difficult in the future.
“I now know that it’s made me better at what I do. If I had my time again, I’d choose to have it because it’s part of who I am and actually, I came out stronger as a result.”
Sarah asked Laura Bates about being thrust into the public spotlight and having to speak at events and to the media.
The Everyday Sexism Project founder said: “I felt very strongly that I wanted to speak out – I wanted to raise these voices and to pass on the stories.
“On the other hand, I was completely terrified. I had no experience of any kind of public interview or persona or anything like that.
“I think it’s important for people to know there is no magic switch in my experience and, with this, there’s no kind of inherent ability to do it or not do it.
“What I found really was the most helpful was just being really, really prepared. That’s why I always quote so many statistics to back up my argument and I learn as much as I can about any particular issue.”
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Sarah talks to politicians, entertainers, activists and world leaders about their inspiration, their hopes and their dreams at a time of enormous international upheaval.
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