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Public speaking coach Kate Gilbert

Kate Gilbert
Public speaking coach Kate Gilbert

One might think that I perform on video day in day out, but sadly, no. I am a total beginner. My apparent ease is thanks to public speaking coach Kate Gilbert. 

I found Kate through producer Tanja Raaste. Kate trained me to perform the Bilingual Fluency online course introduction videos and the  Bilingual Princess and the 20 second secret fairytale that was then filmed by Swedish film director Jonas Grimås and his team.

The first thing Kate got me to do was to warm up my voice and start to learn how to speak. A fitting reality check in my line of work, don't you think? 

Well, learning to speak better was what I was paying Kate for after all. I had wilfully gone out asking for trouble, but it did not make it any easier. She was asking me to start straight away. Then I heard Kate's voice. Damn! What a beautiful quality of voice.

My chain of thoughts went something like this: "She has such a beautiful voice. I had never really appreciated before the work actors put into their voice training. I have a huge mountain to climb. In fact, my voice is veritable crap by comparison! How will I ever do this." 

But Kate would not let me off the hook. No no no. I had to train with her regardless of my embarrassment and excuses. I got homework too. Kate gave me a sheet of exercises to do daily and a voice recording to warm up with. I did not manage daily, until the last week before filming when the daunting prospect of speaking to the camera was all too real. 

But the training really worked! It was amazing how much progress I made in a few weeks, actually.

Some specific exercises were hugely beneficial for a second language speaker like me. 

There was also the tiny problem of what to say.

When we started none of the Bilingual Fluency video scripts were ready. None. I was writing the fairytale in the same period as I was training with Kate. I also had to figure out what to say in the other little intro videos. 

Kate got me to improvise on camera. Thanks! The early results were cringy to say the least. 

Seeing yourself babble on incoherently on a video was not the most edifying of experiences, but it sure did show me my weaknesses. There was work to do. So, I worked on it. And then we did new takes on video. 

As soon as the fairy tale script was ready, we started rehearsing performing it. One of the bits we rehearsed a lot was when in the fairytale the Old Lady receives a lap top computer as a Christmas present from the Monster queen. The movements, the changes in tone, eye contact with camera, fluency of spoken expression... 

If you watch or read the fairytale you will notice that in that section there's a change in "voice". While the story is written by me, the words of the queen in the Christmas card are by Kate. In fact, they sound like a message from another person.

When the filming day dawned I was suitably nervous but also calm and ready, excited even.

I did my voice warm up before Jonas' team and our producer Tanja arrived.

Without Kate it would have been a mess. Instead we sailed through the filming with just 2-3 takes for the first few videos. Towards the end of the day we filmed the 20x20 method explainer, the Bilingual Fluency course overview and all the weekly introduction videos in one take each. I performed even the 8-minute fairytale off by heart. I had rehearsed the fairytale for as many times it took to remember it all. 

Kate gave me standards, objectives and a programme to follow. It was great working with her. Can't wait for the next project.