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- communicate with confidence, speak with style
19th September 2008
There's plenty of news around, isn't there? Walking through the City
of London in the sunshine yesterday, it was hard to believe that
anything had happened. The bars are still full (maybe people drowning
their sorrows) and there were plenty of smiles around. Maybe it was
the weather. Or maybe things are not as bad as they appear. One thing
that you won't hear me doing is blaming the media. OK, I'm in the
media, so I'm biased, but it isn't any reporter's fault that banks go
bust. All they are doing is reporting.
Up in Birmingham this week, I spoke at Event-UK, a trade show for the
meetings and events industry. The mood there was pretty upbeat too,
with plenty of interest in prestigious venues. It seemed to me that
there was plenty of business being done. Many of the people I spoke to
were planning large events, or managing busy conference facilities. A
few enlightened souls asked me if I'd be interested in speaking at, or
chairing their events. Naturally, I allowed myself to be persuaded.
(By the way, if you have access to Sky, you can see me next Wednesday
afternoon on Sky Active, giving a live analysis of Prime Minister
Gordon Brown's speech at the Labour Party Conference. )
While I was at the Event UK exhibition, I met
who with her partner Nathan Robertson, became world number one in
badminton and won an Olympic Silver medal in Athens. I spoke to her
about being a champion and her experience in Beijing. Hear the
interview, along with the audio version of the rest of this ezine,
by clicking this link. Remember - you
can hear it directly through your PC's speakers - you don't need an
Writer and actor Tina Fey is the star, producer and writer of the
hit TV series 30 Rock (I'm just going through the first series on
DVD). Not only that, but she has just returned to one of her old
haunts, Saturday Night Live, to render a wickedly-accurate spoof
of Sarah Palin, the Republican Vice-Presidential candidate. Along
with Amy Poehler as Hillary Clinton, she delivered the opening
skit on SNL this week. A performance this good definitely deserves
an award, so the MediaMaster trophy is hers. It will be
interesting to see if there is any impact on the real Sarah Palin.
I recall that Margaret Thatcher was not at all pleased with Steve
Nallon's uncanny impression of her, nor was Tony Blair delighted
with Rory Bremner - though weatherman Francis Wilson should have
MediaMug of the week is Veteran Irish crooner, Van Morrison. Now,
I'm a great fan of Van the man, although I once bumped into him at
Dublin Airport, and didn't recognise him until several minutes
later. What's he done to win? He's banned people from drinking
alcohol at his concerts, because the moving around may "disturb
his singing". Van's been on the wagon for many years, but this
seems to be taking things way too far.
Presentation Tip of the Week
My clients often ask me this question, or one something like it;
"Alan, I get nervous before I speak. Can you give me some
techniques to take the feeling away?" I always give the same
answer. "Absolutely not". However I then go on to explain why.
When you are on stage, like it or not, you are giving a
performance. In order to perform at your best, you need to have a
bit of "edge". It helps you to be at your best. So what I help
people to do is to channel their anxiety, and turn it into
a great performance.
Of course, nerves can be so overwhelming that some people find it
difficult to perform at all. As Howard Grossman said "The human
brain is a wonderful thing. It works from the moment we are born
until the time we stand up to give a speech". So how do you
control this natural anxiety? Well, there are a number of possible
ways. You need to find what works best for you.
Here are a few suggestions that you might consider if you're beset
- Remember that the entire audience wants you to succeed.
They're on your side.
- Don't worry about the odd fluffed line - just keep going.
No-one will notice
- You don't have all the answers. Your audience knows that.
- If you act confident, you will appear confident
- The more you prepare, the less nervous you will be
Confidence comes with experience. Whenever you get a chance to
speak, take it. You'll be surprised how soon you'll start to enjoy
Media Tip of the Week
HOW LONG HAVE I GOT?
There's a word that media interviewers say to interviewees that
makes them talk at great length. The word is "briefly", as in,
"So, tell us briefly, in the few seconds we have left, what your
new business is about". Alas, on most occasions, the hapless
interviewee will begin their well-rehearsed response with a
history of how they developed their business, only to be cut off
with the words "I'm sorry that's all we have time for". The
interviewee leaves the studio annoyed and frustrated that they
failed to deliver their message, and furious with the presenter
for cutting them off.
Well here's the thing; the news bulletin waits for no-one. It will
be broadcast on the hour, regardless of what else is going on.
That's why you need to be able to condense (or expand) your
answers to fill the time available. Over the years, I have
developed a sense of timing that allows me to speak for 30, 45 or
60 seconds, to within a second or two. It has been invaluable to
me in media interviews.
Before you go on air, it will pay to practice delivering your
message in a limited time. Here's an exercise that I've used with
media spokespeople. Take half a dozen sheets of paper, and write a
different number of seconds on each. Turn them face down and
shuffle them. Take one at random, turn it over, and try to deliver
your message in exactly that time. Get someone else to time you -
maybe a fellow spokesperson, so you can exchange roles.
When you learn to speak to a precise time, your media interviews
will be much more effective. Not only that, you will be surprised
how much information you can deliver in a few seconds.
Technology Tip of the Week
I don't know how many emails you receive every day, but I'm
sure it's more than you want. (By the way, thanks for reading this
one). The trouble is, email is often an "interrupt" form of
communication, like a phone call, rather than "when I'm ready",
like a letter. The sheer volume of interruptions makes it
difficult to concentrate on other tasks for any length of time.
One of the best tips I ever received about email was to turn
off email alerts. That little "ping" or pop-up that tells you a
new email has arrived. I found that I couldn't ignore it - after
all, it might be important! But now that I only check email when I
feel like it (a few times a day), I get more done, stay more
relaxed, and funnily enough, my business seems to run just as well
Here are a few more tips I find useful:
- Never reply to an email when annoyed
- Only have one topic in each email
- Replying in brief quickly is much better then replying at
length a few days later
- Never put any sensitive information in an email
OK, I don't always apply my own rules. But when I do, it works
5-minute Fun Fling
I love this site. It's full of clips from national and local radio from
years ago. Before your time, I expect.
.or anyone else with a potential crisis, come to that. What
happens when you are doorstepped by a news crew? If you're not
trained, things could get even worse...
Pass it on
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