‘Regal poise’: Kate Middleton’s speech techniques show ‘performer’ who was once ‘hiding’

Kate Middleton reflects on her children’s ‘start in life’

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Kate Middleton and Prince William met at university and married in 2011 before having three royal children. They are now both senior working members of the Royal Family and will regularly undertake engagements together. 

This has seen the Cambridge’s carry out several engagements over the years including meeting charities and organisations.

While the couple will often be seen together, Kate also has several interests of her own.

This means she will often appear on her own, both in person as well as via video link.

Her solo appearances throughout the years have changed, according to body language expert Judi James, with her levels of confidence increasing. 

Judi analysed the Duchess’ first ever speech back in 2012 while speaking at the official opening of the Treehouse, a new building for East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices, and a more recent clip where Kate is speaking about her Early Years campaign.

The expert said: “It is possible to coach someone into using body language that will make them look more confident externally than they feel inside but, as a comparison of these two clips of Kate making speeches shows, most of the vital work starts internally if a performance is going to look authentically confident and congruent.

“When we are passionate about our message and when our inner levels of confidence and self-esteem are at a healthy level we usually project in a compelling way. 

“When we’re anxious or dreading negative feedback, as Kate appeared to be as she delivered her first speech, all the training in the world will do little to help, in fact it can make a speaker look worse if it suppresses authentic personality and communication skills, and it’s this sense of over-training that Kate seems to be suffering from here.”

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Due to the experience Kate has gained in her years as Duchess, Judi explained that she has transformed from a “hesitant” performer to one who shows high levels of “confidence” and “charisma”.

The expert added that Kate “could make a career as a professional TV presenter feasible had she not already been ear-marked for the job of Queen”

Judi went on: “The palace made the mistake of waiting a year after her marriage before launching her into her first public speech when a very quick nudge into the deep end would have meant less time fretting and over-working her techniques. 

“She clearly is and was a natural but too much delay and too much pressure to avoid mistakes resulted in this nervous-looking delivery.

“The result is an understandably over-thought performance where we can see so many signs that Kate is obsessively following what appears to be orders from a coach rather than focusing on her audience and taking control of her messages.

“She has obviously been told to slow down by creating long pauses after some very short sentences and this spoils the flow and disrupts the meaning. She appears to have also been told to use hand gestures at certain points and these look unnatural and incongruent. 

“Her lips are pursed with tension and when she arrives there is no eye-greet of the audience, just a long glance back at the host and then some cut-off eye signals as she looks down at her notes. Her hair hangs in a way to create a barrier and she keeps flicking it or touching it nervously as she speaks.”

Now, Kate appears to be more relaxed when speaking in public, taking time to express her words.

Judi said: “Her techniques now show us the performer who was always hiding beneath the nervous exterior of the past.”

According to the expert, the Duchess now looks more in control of both the message she is portraying as well as her performance.

She added: “There is a slight air of regal poise but her connection with her audience makes her look warm and accessible too. Her chin is raised and her hair is worn behind her shoulders to keep it clear from her face.  Her eye expression is calm, without any looking away or eye-dart.

“The muscles of Kate’s mouth are relaxed now, allowing her to smile as she speaks but also to ‘bite’ her words for emphasis when she needs to. She must be working from a script but she now makes her words sound like extensions of her own thoughts and her pacing is more fluid and synchronized.

“I train in public speaking myself and would guess she’s still taking advice but whoever is working with her now is using coaching that allows the authentic ‘Kate’ to emerge rather than drowning her in a lot of difficult commands.”

Judi concluded by explaining that more recent performances “define a woman with much higher levels of inner confidence”.

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