JLA in the Press

Public Speaking. Turn Your Monologues into Masterpieces.
Posted on April 1, 2015

The public speaking industry has rocketed over the past couple of decades. From Alan Sugar to Brian Blessed, everyone’s after some after-dinner action. The industry certainly seems to be wide open to ex-politicians with the gift of the gab. “It absolutely is,” says Jeremy Lee of JLA (Jeremy Lee Associates), the UK’s largest speaker agency. “And we encourage them. I expect to hear from at least a third of the outgoing cabinet each time there’s an election.” There are 9,000 speakers on Lee’s books, which cater for more than 2,000 events every year. More and more people it appears are willing to pay a lot of money to have celebrities appear at their events and get behind the mic for 20 minutes. Flavours of the month – Felix Baumgartner and Usain Bolt, for instance will cost you more than £25,000. Who are the best speakers Lee’s seen? “One of the best was Neil Armstrong,” he says. “He was one of the most extraordinary people I’ve ever met, yet so extraordinarily humble, with an apparent lack of troublesome ego. In marked contrast to people who’ve done one or two appearances on Mock The Week and think that thereafter they should be treated as some sort of deity. I bought Armstrong over for a gig and I spoke to him on the phone. I said we’d have a limo waiting for him. And he interrupted me and said, ‘Jeremy, I’m a grown up. I’ll get a cab.’ Of course he can get a cab, because it isn’t actually very difficult.”

In today’s media culture, public speaking is more present than ever, especially in politics, with party leaders battling it out in The X Factor-style TV debates. If they don’t have what it takes to convey strength, confidence and charisma, they’re in trouble. Training, though, can’t take everybody all the way says JLA’s Jeremy Lee. “You can make yourself quite good. But you can’t make yourself brilliant. There are certain things that can’t be taught.” Natural likeability, for instance? “Yeah. All those kind of things. But, you can learn tricks. The key thing is to give them the impression that you’re there to pay for your new kitchen. If anybody gives that impression then why should the audience give a toss about you?”

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