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The most precious Christmas gift of all – no wrapping required (it’s not a scented candle)

I’m going Christmas shopping today.  On my list are a variety of gifts including Ferrero Rochers, a suitcase, a kettle, posh pants and a onesie. Obvs also a brace of scented candles. I can’t wait to see the faces of the recipients when they open them. These are things I know they want because I’ve been listening out all year for small references to coveted items (admittedly nobody ever mentioned the candles but who can resist the subtle aromas of pomegranate and cardamom????). But there’s one gift I want to give everyone this year, even people I won’t ever play…

Inclusive and effective communication – we need to learn to ‘read the air’

I’ve just finished reading Erin Meyer’s fabulous book, The Culture Map (https://www.waterstones.com/book/the-culture-map/erin-meyer/9781610392761) and I wanted to share some of its content with you because she’s opened my eyes to some surprising and immensely useful tools which can help us all communicate more effectively and more inclusively. Meyer is an INSEAD professor. Her ideas on cross cultural communication draw on three decades living and working around the globe. She’s identified the differences which exist between cultures in 8 areas – general communication, giving feedback, persuading, leading, decision making, trust, disagreeing and scheduling. And her premise is that if we understand these…

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Two ears, one mouth – a formula for dealing with challenge

July 18 was World Listening Day. A brilliant reminder of one of our most important communication skills (we do have two ears and one mouth, after all). And a prompt to heed Buddha’s excellent observation: “If your mouth is open, you’re not learning”. The concept of listening to an opposing viewpoint rather than shouting it down or silencing it is one of my passions, and it’s part of my RATIO technique. The idea for RATIO struck me in the middle of a conversation with a dear friend who happens to hold very different political views to me. She expressed an…

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Authenticity and humility – the keys to an audience’s attention (and wallet)

I recently had the terrifying pleasure of MC-ing a charity fundraising ball for Home Start (Wandsworth) – a brilliant organisation which gives families a helping hand when they’re going through a rough patch. https://www.home-start.org.uk/about-us I’ve worked on corporate events for two decades so I’m ok in front of a crowd. In fact, it’s a role I relish because you can genuinely contribute to the success of a conference by making the audience feel included; by facilitating interesting conversations; by setting an appropriate tone for the occasion. At the average corporate gig, the objective of the host is to extract, solicit…

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Please don’t apologise, but do say sorry…

Will Smith’s Instagram message to Chris Rock has prompted me to consider the issue of apologising and how to do it well.  I believe it’s one of THE most important communication skills – one which can salvage marriages, avert wars, restore friendships and save corporate reputations. Meanwhile, the absence of an apology, or one delivered poorly, can do irreparable damage to relationships of all kinds. One of the simple communication tools for life I offer 10 year olds in schools is ‘the power of the apology’.  We call it The Dog Ate My Prep. It’s a three part process: The…

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Not yours to kill, Mr Craig – the danger of disrespecting your audience

I’ve done an entirely unscientific piece of research among everyone I’ve ever met, to solicit their reaction to the latest Bond movie. DO NOT READ ON IF YOU HAVEN’T SEEN IT Responses ranged from ‘devastated’ to ‘disgusted’, via ‘angry’, ‘cheated’ and ‘upset’. Not one single positive comment. And a common theme was a feeling that the makers had stuck two fingers up at the millions of loyal Bond fans; that they had fundamentally disregarded the pact made over 25 years between producers and audience. Comedian David Mitchell wrote this excellent piece (https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2021/oct/10/ah-mr-bond-i-was-expecting-you-to-entertain-me) on why the ending felt like a kick…

Whatever you’re doing, stop now and listen to this. It will change your mood and it might even change your life….

As part of my 2021 Christmas greeting/present to colleagues, clients and contacts, I ran a competition asking people to nominate an exceptional piece of communication which they had come across that year. Suggestions went into a hat and I pulled out the winner this week. Thank you and well done Emily Jones for alerting me to this podcast interview with the global phenomenon and inspirational human being Mo Gawdat = https://podcasts.apple.com/jm/podcast/e101-the-happiness-expert-that-made-51-million-people/id1291423644?i=1000538174002 I urge you to listen to this NOW. Yes, it’s a masterclass in the art of communication but, more than that, he offers a practical, simple formula for achieving…

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Authenticity – is it wrong to stand up straight when we’re giving a presentation?

Someone remarked yesterday that I’m lucky not to have been affected by the pandemic. “Why do you assume that?” I queried. “Because you always seem so cheerful” came the reply. “That’s because I’m putting on a brave face!!!!!!!!! Presenting an optimistic façade rather than revealing the sadness I feel and the tears I shed for all the pain and disappointment in the world”. “Oh, but you never show that”. I wasn’t sure if this last comment was made with an undertone of admiration or criticism. In any case, I was slightly surprised at their lack of empathy and understanding. But…

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Don’t frighten them to death but, to have impact and be memorable, you must make people feel something……..

Last Thursday I sat down in front of the TV with my family and my dinner.  “How about an episode of American Office?”, said Lucy.  “We haven’t watched it for ages.”  We all agreed so she lined one up. As the theme tune started, I felt the most extraordinary surge of emotion; a vivid, visceral recollection of lockdown and the many evenings we spent watching this series. It was a strange and slightly unsettling sensation. I was transported back to April 2020 – a period of heightened and intense feelings. Which is why the memories are so strong. And why…

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Ditch your lockdown false friend and turn those notes into bullets. Try this experiment to see why….

Hands up who’s got into the habit of using a script for online presentations? Hands up who’s worrying about or already struggling with the script/no script issue for real world presentations? Well, you’re not alone. It turns out that many people have seen a script as a comfort blanket during the lockdown months, and it’s a hard habit to break. But we must. Because scripts (whether you’re reading or remembering) are false friends. Here’s why…. When we create content in written form, whether using quill pen and parchment or a computer screen, we tend to construct sentences which are long…

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