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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…

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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…

PURPLE SNOW DROP
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…

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…

Back to work – shiny shoes, sharpened pencils and a raised eyebrow

Among people’s concerns about going back to the office are: • Will my work clothes fit? • Will proper shoes give me blisters? • Do I really have to shower EVERY DAY! Of course, these are trivial and amusing but let’s make no mistake, FORTO (Fear of Returning to the Office) is real. Some are dreading the commute, others an oppressive corporate culture of presenteeism. And let’s not even think about all those lockdown puppies…… Very many people, though, have experienced the limitations of remote working: • Relationships are harder to manage (whether with more senior or more junior colleagues)…

Don’t fear failure, sing it out loud

Stuart the examiner looked slightly bemused when I walked in the room for my grade 3 singing exam. All the other candidates were under 10 years old. I was way out of my comfort zone. As was Stuart when I started belting out ABBA’s Thank You For The Music! But actually, part of the reason for doing the exam was to push myself into unfamiliar territory. To experience discomfort. Because what we know to be true is that going through hardship makes us stronger, more resilient and better able to deal with difficulties in the future. Robert Glazer writes about…

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