Friday, December 19, 2014

Olympic pools, buses, Wales and football pitches. Towards a new system of measurement.

According to a report this morning on BBC Radio 5 Live, Britons drink the equivalent of over two hundred Olympic-sized swimming pools of alcohol over the Christmas period. Comparisons like this are used all the time by news outlets, in order to put statistics in terms that we can understand. But does it really help that much? How big is an Olympic-sized swimming pool anyway? (2.5 million litres, in case you don't know).
There are a number of common units in use in the media. Here's a guide:

Double-decker bus  Used to measure height, or sometimes length. Why anyone should be able to envisage a stack of buses is a mystery.

Wales Used for the area of islands, icebergs and the size of asteroids.

Belgium See Wales. Used for larger areas (did you know that Belgium was larger than Wales?)

Isle of Wight See Wales. Very handy for asteroids in particular

Football pitches Used for smaller areas and sometimes length. Even stranger, sometimes height. 

Wembley Stadium Sometimes filled with stuff ("enough rubbish to fill Wembley stadium several times over") or people ("ten Wembley stadiums full of people are affected")

I think it's time we moved to a new system that makes more sense to everyone, so here are my recommendations:

London Eye Used for height. Many people have seen it, and many have been up in it, so they know what it's like to look down from it. "Three times the height of the London Eye" makes real sense.

"Strictly" dance floor Used for areas, replacing football pitches. Far more people watch Strictly than sit in football stadiums these days.

Shopping Mall A replacement for Wembley stadium. OK, malls vary in size, but these comparisons are pretty vague at the best of times

Apple Store Used for volumes of stuff, replacing Olympic swimming pools. I rather like the idea of "enough PCs to fill an Apple Store"

Alas, as for really large areas, I'm stumped. Any ideas?

Thursday, December 18, 2014

The Media Coach 19th December 2014

So this is Christmas; Time for a review; The Apprentice; MediaMaster and MediaMug of the Year; Deliver it, change it , deliver it; Say it, say again and again; Get more engaged in 2015; An interview with Katie Bulmer-Cooke; Music from Out of the Rain.

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Thursday, December 11, 2014

The Media Coach 12th December 2014

'Tis the season for reality shows; Jeopardy; Commander Chris Hadfield; Sergei Chaban; How to create a cracking speech; What you can and can’t do; Three nifty social media updates; An interview with Rebecca Morgan; Music from Jim Boggia

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Thursday, December 04, 2014

The Media Coach 5th December 2014

YouTube breaks; End of the Human race?; A great headline; Ian McLagan; Mario Balotelli; Interruptions and Heckles; Has something gone wrong?; How to avoid friends and followers; An interview with Paul Cook; Music from Katie Sutherland

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Thursday, November 27, 2014

The Media Coach 28th November 2014

Back from Malaysia; A cricketing tragedy; Buy the Band Aid single; PD James; Whoops Twitter; Paint a Picture; Disarm the Loaded Question; Take it Easy; An interview with Susan Luke; Music from Mick Wilson

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Friday, November 21, 2014

The Media Coach 21st November 2014

A speaking trip to Malaysia; Missing flight MH370; Mike Nichols; Bill Cosby; Mind your (stage) manners; Don’t get battered and fried; Be relevant, be original, be there; An interview with Krishna Muthaly, Music from Band Aid

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Friday, November 14, 2014

Comet FIFA data shows "astonishing level of corruption" say analysts

Analysts are struggling to make sense of the data being sent back from Comet FIFA by the Garcia probe, which has landed at the heart of the mystery-shrouded body. Despite gathering and sending back a huge amount of information, the Garcia probe has suffered from being in the shade of Mount Blatter, the highest mountain on the comet. As a result, there has been an "astonishing level of corruption" according to most analysts.

One of the analysts said "A real problem was getting the probe to work at all. Nothing sticks to Comet FIFA, so it's very hard to keep the probe in place. It's possible that it may shut down due to the hostile conditions on FIFA, which is continually shrouded in a blanket of fog, thickest around Mount Blatter.

It's taken many years to get to the heart of FIFA. Analysts have been speculating about the toxic clouds around Mount Blatter, suggesting that they have created an environment that defies the laws seen elsewhere in the universe. "Some very weird things happen on FIFA" said one US investigator "We've never seen the level of powerful forces that exist there, which seem to deflect all external threats"

Though most analysts are shocked and stunned, the Eckert institute in Germany has gone against the trend. Their project COVERUP (Calling Out Virtually Each Rumour as Utterly Preposterous) has produced a summary saying that all is normal on Comet FIFA, and everyone else is wrong.

While analysis of the data from Comet FIFA continues, the body continues to thunder through the universe, destroying everything it its path. Analysts fear that it might one day destroy Planet Football. "We suspect the such a comet once crashed into the earth, causing the extinction of honest football administrators" said an analyst. "We hope it doesn't do the same to Planet Football".

Image credit Creative Commons Attribution 3.0

The Media Coach 14th November 2014

Techno-speaking; Misleading advice online; Neil Mullarkey; 100 years of film; A car vanishes; It’s really a conversation; Spoon collector monthly; Keeping it current; An interview with Ross Shafer; Music from Nugent & Belle

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Thursday, November 06, 2014

The Media Coach 7th November 2014

Tower Poppies; A new speaking group; A brilliant course; A Space Oddity; Euros in Ireland?; Be in the moment; A field guide to journalists; Think Different; An interview with Adam Shaw; Music from Jim Boggia

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Monday, November 03, 2014

Sir Richard Branson - the right words at the right time

The reaction from Sir Richard Branson to the tragic crash of Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo, which killed co-pilot Michael Tyner Alsbury and seriously injured pilot Peter Siebold has been both timely and appropriate. 

The Virgin Founder was on the scene of the incident in the Mojave Desert within hours of the crash and delivered a press conference in which he praised the bravery of both men on board, determined to find the cause of the problem, and re-stated his commitment to commercial space travel. Not only that, he confirmed that he would still be a passenger on the first Virgin Galactic flight. "There is no way I would ask others to go on a Virgin Galactic flight if I didn't feel it was safe enough for myself," he told CNN on Monday.

His words echoed those he delivered back in February 2007 at the scene of a rail crash in Cumbria, where a Virgin Pendolino train had derailed with many injuries and one fatality. In a memorable address to the assembled media, Sir Richard said Virgin cared about "people" and "safety" above "profit" and "finance". He called the driver a "hero" and thanked the local community for rallying round "opening their hearts and doors" to those injured and shocked.

Though he's not a naturally confident speaker, Sir Richard Branson has the ability to deliver the right words at the right time. His response to both incidents is exemplary behaviour for the head of an organisation involved in such crises. In short he:
  • Makes great efforts to reach the scene as quickly as possible
  • Takes control of the media by calling a press conference
  • Talks about his feelings for the people involved, especially those injured, and the families and friends of anyone killed
  • Promises to find the cause of the incident, without speculating what it might be
  • Reassures customers that safety is a very high priority
  • Ensures that any victims are properly looked after
There's one more thing that's often forgotten after events like this, and that is to keep an eye out for any media reports which give a misleading impression. Today, Sir Richard was quick to point out that press reports of an explosion on board SpaceShipTwo were wrong. Referring to the initial report by the National Safety Transportation Board he said: "They've ruled out a lot of the very British speculation by self-proclaimed experts over the weekend, in saying that the fuel tanks, the engine were all intact, and that there was no explosion, and they will come out with more findings in the next couple of days".
Any CEO with the misfortune to find themselves with a similarly tough crisis to deal with would do well to borrow the Branson playbook.

Image Credit: Creative Commons License

Friday, October 31, 2014

The Media Coach 31st October 2014

Halloween!; The mighty Jack Bruce; Jollofgate and Jamie Oliver; Poltergeist - the speaker; Double, double, toil and trouble; Trick or Tweet; An interview with Neil Mullarkey; Music from Dawn Langstroth

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Friday, October 24, 2014

Status Quo's four lessons for speakers

On Wednesday, I was in an enthusiastic crowd at The Roundhouse in London to watch a unique acoustic performance by Status Quo. It was simply fantastic, and made me think about a number of lessons they demonstrated that all performers, including speakers, should think about. Here are four ways that the the Quo demonstrated not only their professionalism, but some things that every performer should take care of.

1. Timing The concert was being broadcast live on the BBC, so had to start after the news at precisely 8.03pm, and finish at exactly 9.30pm. Even though the band played two encores, they kept exactly to that time constraint. Very impressive for a rock band. Speakers should show the same discipline. Over-running is disrespectful to the organiser and speakers who may follow. Under-running creates gaps in the programme that something has to fill. Keep to time, every time. 

2. Connection With hundreds of loyal fans singing along with every song, it wasn't too hard for Status Quo to make a connection. However, they still worked hard from the stage to encourage the crowd to sing and dance, responding to call-outs with a smile, and playing with the crowd rather than to them. Speakers too need to make that vital connection so that a speech is not a monologue, but a dialogue, even if the audience role is simply laughter and applause. 

3. Experimentation On the admission of Francis Rossi, the band was very nervous of playing an acoustic set. He joked that they'd felt sick the night before when they played a preview in front of family, friends and press. He even suggested there would be lots of wrong notes (I didn't spot any). The thing was, even after fifty years in the business, and over a hundred million sales, they were prepared to try something new. Doing the same old speech on stage year after year can make you stale, so finding ways to innovate, even for only part of a speech is vital. If it works, keep it in. If not, move on and try something else. 

4. Delivery This is where the best performers excel. They know exactly what to deliver, and how to deliver it, to excite an audience. That comes only from experience on stage. It's why speakers talk about "stage time", or the need to get in front of an audience as often as possible.

Follow those four rules and you'll be rockin' all over the world. (Sorry!)

Picture Credit : Alan Stevens 2014. All rights reserved 

Thursday, October 23, 2014

The Media Coach 24th October 2014

Social media breaks the news; Ben Bradlee; Raphael Ravenscroft; Mike Read and UKIP; Status Quo’s four lessons for speakers; I’m not talking about that; Picture this; An interview with Phil Hall; Music from Robbie Boyd

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Thursday, October 16, 2014

The Media Coach 17th October 2014

Speakers from around the world; Galileo at the West Wing; BBC archives; John Grisham;  What doesn’t make an exceptional speech; How re-bookable are you?; Unique content can be priceless; An interview with Tim Campbell; Music from Dawn Langstroth

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