On the one hand you usually stay warm and dry.
On the other if you forget what you're talking about or why, you can't suddenly lead the audience on to another guiding location while you gather your thoughts. (This is a classic guiding ruse that also comes in handy when you have an over-eager guest who's interrupting the flow of the tour. It's a simple distraction technique. Always works.)
Certainly when people are sat eyeballing you from a couple of metres away in some hotel function room or conference chamber it sounds unconvincing if you say: "Right, let's all stand and have a walk down to the lobby and back while I recall that very important point I needed to make and which the organisers paid me handsomely to remember."
There is only one thing that happens should you lose your thread during public speaking. You feel the cold grip of shame - or maybe SHAME - on your neck.
That's probably why public speaking tends to command higher fees than guiding. The opportunity for things going horribly wrong is so much higher.
Still I love doing it.
You have a limited duration in which to 'perform' and if you get it right people love you. This is largely because there's a genetic fear in normal humans about having to sit through endless minutes of dull public speakers bleating on and on.
I emphasise normal humans.
There is one guide I know who is such a committee man that he drove away everybody but himself after the third meeting of any organisation. He had a bewildering desire to hear his own voice picking through the bones of every point of order as though it were the Treaty of Versailles. I think during one of his endless forensic examinations of correct kerb heights in the city - or some such - I actually gnawed away my little finger. And my thumb. And the table.
Another issue was his voice which was downbeat in the extreme as though he were informing us of a death in the family. Sometimes people don't fit their jobs.
In the picture above I'm doing a public speaking gig.
Or rather I'm compering an event at Victoria Baths, Henry Price's 1906 gem of a public building in Chorlton-on-Medlock. The event marked ten years since the BBC's Restoration programme granted £3.4m to Victoria Baths.
This involved Manchester Central MP Lucy Powell unveiling a stained glass window - Aqua - but there were also performances and tributes from numerous others. I introduced these good people and topped and tailed with quotes, observations and drollery.
There was also a synchronised swimming team Aquabatix. Before announcing these fine ladies I was asked if I could mention they'd swum for Disney, David Walliams and ex-President Gorbachev of Russia, the man who oversaw the dismantling of Communism.
"Wow," I joshed during the event, "what a trio. Gorbachev, Mickey Mouse and comedian David Walliams all together, round the pool. Would have loved to have seen that."
"Er, they swam for them at different times, not all together," somebody told me afterwards in a whisper as though passing on a secret. You don't always take everyone with you on your compering journey.
Victoria Baths, by the way, is a symphony of Arts and Crafts tiles, and stained glass. It's gorgeous. Worth a visit, with the delight, not the devil, in the detail. The pictures below show off its joys.
Back to the speechifying.
This was a happy event, a celebration of the work of the Friends of Victoria Baths and the efforts of all the volunteers and other agencies in preserving this exceptional building after its formal closure 20 years ago. As Henry Owen John of English Heritage said, "Victoria Baths was the most remarkable example of a municipal swimming baths of the period."
It's easier speaking and compering a celebration, no-one's looking for you to fail, and usually nobody's paid their own money to get in - money always sharpens the focus.
Still there was one disconcerting element.
The invited guests were separated from me by the full length of a swimming pool, and also in elevation, as they were all sat on the exhibition balcony. So no eyeballing then.
But I thought, as I took the microphone and marched out in front of the audience, if things do go horribly wrong I could at least throw myself into the water.
Distraction techniques are mighty fine things. And full immersion in a suit would certainly work.