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M & S’s Mark Bolland – how not to open an interview

If Mark Bolland had read a previous item on this site, reinforcing the importance of a strong opening to a presentation or an interview, he might not have waffled at the beginning of his answer, on the Today programme recently – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-22608875. Here’s a rough transcript of his opening words: “What we said in…what we’re very pleased about on GM is that we’ve presented an Autumn/Winter collection last week…..we won’t duck the fact that we feel we’ve underperformed on general merchandise………”. So, two false starts before he arrives at his key point, delivered via a stream of consciousness, thus weakening…

Mrs Thatcher – an iron lady but a nervous speaker

In the last few days our screens have been filled with clips of Margaret Thatcher’s key speeches. How interesting, as I analyse her performance with my trainer’s hat on, to see her, time and again, commit one of the cardinal sins of public speaking – she looks down at the climax of a key point instead of maintaining eye contact with the audience. This famous ‘the lady’s not for turning’ clip illustrates the point. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rQ-M0KEFm9I She’s looking down to be ready for the next point, rather than delivering the climax, driving it home with confident eye contact, letting the impact…

Apostrophegate – is good communication in peril?

So, Mid Devon District Council may be about to reverse the decision to ban apostrophes from street names. A victory for the Plain English Campaign and for all of us who strive to write clear, concise copy for ourselves and for our clients, with commas and full stops and even the odd semi-colon, in roughly the right place. There’s nothing mysterious or sinister about punctuation – it’s simply a tool to aid understanding. So why all the fuss? Possibly because it’s part of a bigger issue about communication in general and the way it’s changing as a result of technology….

Depressed by Today, every day

I’ve just, for the first time, written a letter to a newspaper. This feels like a watershed – is it the onset of middle age? Will a blue rinse follow? It wasn’t in green ink and capitals, and I’m not particularly angry. Actually, I’m sad and the cause of that sadness is not lack of sunlight but the Today programme. I wonder if you feel the same? Here’s the letter: “I have, this morning, after 20 years of listening to the Today programme from 0700 to 0745, retuned my alarm clock radio. I can no longer bear to spend the…

Another horse voice

Jayne has voiced two new programmes for Sky’s Horse & Country channel – Yard Talk: Tina Cook and Masterclass: Tina Cook.  Both air on Friday 22 February starting at 8pm. http://www.horseandcountry.tv/episode/tina-cook-yard-talk-point-pointing

50 ways to leave your lover – a communications challenge for Valentine’s Day

According to Neil Simon, there are 50 ways to leave your lover. According to one disgraced former MP, one way to break the bad news is during half time of a World Cup football match. That would be number 51 on my list. If you put the emotion to one side and think of it simply as a piece of communication, there are some particular challenges for the individual wielding the axe. So, here’s my guide to planning the perfect break up, based on some universal rules of good communication: 1. Carefully plan the timing and location of the event…

Tell us, Mr Cameron, don’t deliver to us – Tip 2 for good speaking/presenting

David Cameron’s ‘Europe’ speech which was finally delivered on 23 January gives us an excellent example of one of the most important yet subtle skills of public speaking. It’s the difference between ‘delivering’ and ‘telling’ and, sadly for Mr Cameron, this example was how not to do it. In fairness, he did improve as the speech progressed but for the first 15 minutes his intonation was highly repetitive with an annoying rising pitch at the end of words and sentences. The net result was that his messages swam over us rather than engaging and holding us. It’s a very common…

The secrets of good speaking/presenting. Tip 1 – a memorable opening

Opening line of Anne Tyler’s novel The Beginner’s Goodbye – “The strangest thing about my wife’s return from the dead was how other people reacted.” Engaging, arresting, surprising, compelling. Just as a book needs to capture readers in its first few words, so a presentation needs to grab people’s attention, take control of the room and establish a rapport with its audience. Work hard on your opening, rehearse it thoroughly and you’ll get off to a good start in terms of both audience engagement and your own confidence.

Jayne gets CPD accreditation for public speaking training

Jayne can now offer CPD points for her public speaking training courses which are tailored specifically to the needs of lawyers. The training centres on the skills solicitors need for practice development, beauty parades, webinars, conferences and other client facing presentations. Contact Jayne for further information on courses and rates.

Jayne voices new programme on Sky

Jayne has voiced a new programme for Sky’s Horse and Country TV channel about two dressage superstars – Carl Hester and Charlotte Dujardin. It follows their successes in 2012 including their gold medal winning performances at the Olympics. The programme aired on Thursday 17 January 2013.

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