That Cough! What Theresa May COULD have done

Theresa May could have tried old fashioned Simpkin’s Nipits!

Theresa May could have tried old fashioned Simpkin’s Nipits!

What a week for the PM – Stage bombed, branding fail and then …


We’ve all been there, the throat tickles, you try to suppress the urge, you inhale a tiny bit of saliva, then oh no, you almost snort and suffocate as you try to hold it back but it’s gone……that uncontrollable ahem, cough; in assembly, in church, on air.  The most inconvenient moments of all time.

Theresa May couldn’t have been more exposed in front of the world’s press and a few thousand people in the auditorium at the Tory Party Conference.  

So what could she have done?  And more importantly what can you learn so this NEVER happens to you?

My big tip that was completely non- existent at the conference ……


Why oh why wasn’t there a plan in place for the ‘what if’ factor?

Surely May and her team would have thought about‘scenario planning’ before the speech, but ok no, cough cough, stage bomb…etc the only plan they had was

‘The Show Must Go On’

Sometimes ‘going on’ isn’t the best solution. Look, now everyone’s talking about the boobs and bloopers , not the content the speech.

SO here are my TOP 5 Contingency TIPS you can use in future….

1 – DRUGS – Yes, on this occasion proper hard core meds! (legal of course)I can see in her tweet (see below) she had Strepsils. They are too mild, rubbish! She should have gone for much harder stuff from the doctor! Good old fashioned Simkin’s Nipits, used by actors far and wide are far better.

2 – Shorten the Speech – Cut to the end.  Look, who cares how long the slot was – so what if it was 7 minutes instead of 45 minutes. 

Who wants to listen to 30 minutes of croaky frog in the throat?

3 – Change the running order – the world isn’t going to stop if you delay the speech by 10 minutes or 30 minutes to consult a doctor or a speech therapist! This was an emergency!

4 – Slow down and talk more quietly rather than ‘push’ the voice to the limit – more details on the larynx in the article below!

5 – Roll VT – have a 3 minute ‘inspirational’ video you can play so you can compose yourself - they probably had a short film at some point anyway. You can always play a video at a conference, it would seem like part of the action.  That’s what you’d have in broadcasting – an emergency panic tape.

My main message here is, cut out the what if’s, cut out the anxiety.  Why set yourself up for failure when you can have safety nets and contingency plans in place.

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To find out what more experts say about Theresa May’s croaky throat – read this great article on the BBC Website Click here

I’ve helped 100s of Execs, CEOs, Managing Partners and business leaders nail their speeches at conferences and live on air – if you need help with your BIG speaking moment – please do get in touch so we can have a chat – without the croaky voice.

patrick Volavka