The view from my desk

PRCA London ‘Speaker Masterclass’ 17 January 2019

Dec 06, 2018

I’m heading into the PRCA HQ in London in January to deliver the Speaker Masterclass – taking presentations to new heights. Book here  

 ‘There can be no whitewash at the White House’ (Richard M. Nixon address to the nation 30 April 1973)

Dec 06, 2018

Speeches have the power to change things. Speeches have the power to change things – for good or evil. In 1973, in the wake of the Watergate affair, President Richard Nixon declared publicly that ‘there can be no whitewash at the White House’ – a soundbite worthy of a great speech writer. In truth, his attempts at a cover-up left him facing impeachment, and he resigned. A reputation in tatters. A PR disaster. ‘I know I have the body but of a weak and feeble woman; but I have the heart and stomach of a king, and of a king of England too.’ Thus declared Queen Elizabeth 1 to her ‘loving people’ gathered at Tilbury to face the Spanish Armada in 1588. History records that they had a good day at the office on that occasion and were doubtless spurred-on by Good Queen Bess’s rhetorical turn of phrase. But how do today’s speeches compare with the Goliath’s of yesterday? In truth, not very well. Should we blame 24/7 news coverage or our rapidly-dwindling ability to focus for more that 1 min: 30 seconds? Today’s leaders, and their speechwriters, pander to the TV edits to such an extent that their clever soundbites out of context are often a misrepresentation of what they meant. Tony Blair and Donald Trump use short phrases over full sentences, and some are barely understandable if you read the transcripts. Whatever the cause, as public relations and public affairs practitioners, we are well placed to regain the rhetorical high ground – preferably in the most memorable TED-type talks possible. Here are my #10 Talk Tactics as you go into speech writing battle: – Tactic #1: Never agree to the ‘just put a deck of slides together for me by 2 pm’ request. Sit down with the speaker at least two weeks before they are scheduled to be on their feet. Tactic #2: Challenge the lazy ‘I’ll repeat what I said last time’ attitude. Not only will the audience be different, but the time and context may well have changed too. Tactic #3: Avoid a Nixon-style PR meltdown. Check the facts, state your position (even if it makes uncomfortable listening) and season the message with metaphorical herbs of reassurance. Tactic #4: Take a shower after the first draft. It’s amazing how much editing a speech needs despite your best first attempts at eloquence. Tactic #5: Pin them down to a practice. If practice was good enough for Sir Winston Churchill, it’s good enough for your speaker too. Edit again. Tactic #6: Tune-in to Radio 4 Today to borrow some last-minute opening words – be they from the 07:20 business slot or Thought for The Day. Edit again. Tactic #7: Resist the temptation to replace all your great work at the eleventh hour with 200 Power Point slides. Elizabeth 1 didn’t need them so why should you? Tactic #8: Visual aids should be visual and an aid to understanding. Find an apt prop to help your client illustrate the...

PRCA London: Speaker Masterclass – Friday 9th November 2018

Sep 30, 2018

It’s so easy to fall into bad habits as a regular presenter. Confidence can lead to complacency and before we know it we have dropped to common-place. I’ll be sorting out some of these bad habits on Friday 9th November when I run the Speaker Masterclass for the Public Relations and Communications Association (PRCA). The day is open to non-Members so book on quickly and join me for a practical, highly-interactive, energizing day. 

‘Have You Got News For Us?’ 08:00 – 11:00 Tuesday 13th November 2018: Derby

Aug 22, 2018

What makes news, and what makes reporters run a news story? These are the questions we get to grips with during my popular ‘Have You Got News for Us?’ workshop, hosted by the D2N2 LEP.   I’ll be joining forces with Steve Hall, Editor-in-Chief East Midlands (Derby Telegraph, Nottingham Post, Leicester Mercury and Burton Mail) on Tuesday 13th November to run this event on behalf of D2N2 LEP.   It’s an 08:00 start at The Riverside but you get breakfast and will be away by 11:00 with more ideas than you can shake a stick at.   Come ready to learn why media coverage is good for business, how to find a news story, and how to pitch the story to an editor. It’s highly interactive, at times combative, but crucially fun.    And it’s FREE but you must register here.  And you absolutely must turn up!

Presentation Skills Masterclass: 15th November 2018 08:30 – 13:00 central Nottingham: £90 (£75 +vat) per person

Aug 22, 2018

  Don’t you just love it when a speech is designed with you in mind, gets to the point quickly, and ends just as you want more? Sadly, I reckon only 5% of presentations I’ve heard recently have managed to get the Louise Third thumbs-up. So I’m on a mission. To convert presentations from woeful to wonderful.   If your talks and presentations have become a bit weary and have lost their impact, my next Speaker Masterclass workshop is for you. Why not reward yourself a half-day away from the office to learn and practice under my guidance in a small group setting? How will you benefit? -Save precious time by using focused presentation planning tools; -Overcome nerves, build confidence and experiment with new content and delivery styles; -Improve your audience response-to-action rate; -Re-establish your professional ‘presence’ and gravitas. What will you learn?  –Refine and develop your unique speaker style; -Take complete control of the speaking opportunity to benefit you and your audience; -Organise your thoughts under a single clear, memorable and compelling message; -Connect with the audience in an informal, engaging and persuasive manner using story-telling, facts and emotion; -Employ the best stage-craft techniques to hold everyone’s attention. whatever your role.   Book here and I’ll be in touch with all the instructions you need. See you on November 15th.