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presentation skills

PURPLE SNOW DROP
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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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…

Pink banana
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…

PURPLE SNOW DROP
How to speak confidently when you don’t know what you’re talking about…

By way of preparation for every training session, I ask attendees to share with me their strengths and weaknesses, as communicators. The issue which comes up time and time again is this – “I’m ok when I know the material well but I really lack confidence when I’m not so sure about the content”. This lack of confidence manifests itself in a number of ways – a hesitant tone of voice; lack of eye contact; fidgeting; a high-speed delivery and lack of pauses (lest someone should jump in to ask a question); apologetic language (especially at the beginning). And then…

Stranger Danger! Misreading someone’s demeanour can be disastrous

Light bulb moments in the training room are things of joy. I had one the other day during a session of interview practice. I asked my client (let’s call her Esmerelda) a question but just as I thought she was getting going with the answer, she suddenly stopped. I was slightly thrown but gathered myself and moved on to another question. The same thing happened again and then a third time, each answer getting progressively shorter. At the end of the mock interview we analysed how it had gone, and I referred to these abrupt endings. I revealed how uneasy…

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