Hints and tips about media appearances, speaking and social media. This week; Say what you mean; Eurovision; Roll the presses; Peter Allen; Heineken; Search for the hero inside yourself; Targets and Bridges; Dan Brown al Dante; An interview with Russel Tarr; Music from Marcus Eaton.
Tuesday, May 14, 2013
should you do if your well-publicised speech turns out to be based on
misinformation? If you're the Education Secretary, apparently nothing.
Michael Gove made a speech in which he said "One set of history teaching
resources suggests spending classroom time depicting the rise of Hitler
as a Mr Men story. I may be unfamiliar with all of Roger Hargreaves's
work, but I am not sure he ever got round to producing Mr Anti-Semitic
Dictator, Mr Junker General or Mr Dutch Communist Scapegoat"
His speechwriter has come up with a decent line, but it's very
misleading. This morning, I interviewed Russel Tarr, the teacher who is
in Mr Gove's firing line. Unsurprisingly, he's furious. He explained
that at the end of an intensive six-week course on the Weimar Republic,
his GCSE students are required to explain the rise of Hitler to
nine-year old primary children, as an exercise to show understanding and
communication. The students used Mr Men characters in the exercise,
which was very successful.
When challenged on this
misdirection, Mr Gove is quoted as saying simply "Read my speech". As
Russel Tarr told me, "I wonder what Mr Gove would make of Communism
explained with farm animals? Perhaps he's unaware of George Orwell".
My point is not political, but my question is this. If you were
challenged after a speech on the basis of misinformation, how would you
Picture Credit : Roger Hargreaves Creative Commons
Thursday, May 09, 2013
Hints and tips for media appearances, speaking and social media. This week; Who makes the news?; More phones than people; Ray Harryhausen; Soft drinks and bad taste; Can you prove that?; Handling a pre-recorded interview; How do you do everything?; An interview with The Chuckle Brothers; Music from Mick Wilson
Saturday, May 04, 2013
It’s interesting to note how some speakers label themselves, presumably in the hope of drawing the interest of potential clients. “The UK’s leading..” or “Amazon best-selling author”. But hang on a minute. How rare are these hyperbolic appellations? I ran some Google searches to check. “The UK’s leading speaker” (28,400 results), “Amazon best-selling author” (697,000 results). Not in any sense unique, and makes it more difficult to stand out than Wally does.
Leaving aside the fact that self-given descriptions are simply opinions (and may just be based on getting people to buy your book on a given hour on a given day), do they really convince people? Why not use verifiable third-party information, such as “Listed as one of the top 100 social media experts to follow on Twitter by influential US blogger Evan Carmichael” or “Past President of the Global Speakers Federation” ? (Yes, those refer to me, but I’m making a point, not self-promoting).
The thing is, we all have stuff that makes us unique. That’s why people buy us. Of course, you can always add a touch of humour. The virtuoso violinist Yehudi Menuhin was widely recognised as being the world’s best. When he was asked how he regarded himself, he said “I’m the world’s second-best violinist”. The next question was obvious “Who is the best?” he was asked. “All my friends” he used to reply with a smile.
Thursday, May 02, 2013
Hints and tips for media appearances, speaking and social media. This week; Office jargon; The medium modifies the message; Jaguar; Pepsico; Busking it on stage; Revenge is sour; Play nicely! Share!; An interview with Gered Mankowitz; Music from the Lost Hollow Band
Wednesday, May 01, 2013
Twitter: A monstrous mix of banality and irrelevance, filled with chatter from people you don't know about things you don't care about.
Facebook: A device for checking up on old school pals, and finding out that the big boy who bullied you in school is now calling himself Dolores and is a cocktail waitress in a bar in Tangier.
LinkedIn: A collection of CVs from job-seekers who have never worked with each other, but who write each other endless glowing testimonials in the hope of finding gainful employment again
SEO: An abbreviation for Seriously Expensive Ordure. A way of getting to number one in Google for "Lifestyle Coach, Orkney", regardless of your location or profession.
Internet Marketing: A way of selling course to people desperate to sell courses to other people desperate to become, er, Internet Marketers.
Blog: An intermittent rant written by a self-styled expert, read exclusively by other bloggers, if at all.
YouTube: A place for people to upload 15-minute pieces to camera about how their business is better than the one next door, or video clips of people walking into lamp posts.
Foursquare: A network established by footpads and thieves to discover when people are away from home
Instgram: Pictures of your cat in a hat and sunglasses, or of your friends making strange faces, digitally altered to look like grainy old pictures to show on high definition screens.
Empire Avenue: A cross between derivatives trading and Myspace. No-one really knows what it's for.
I wonder if others could suggest more entries?
Picture Credit: Wikipedia Creative Commons
Thursday, April 25, 2013
Hints and tips for media appearances, speaking and social media. This week; Inspiring speakers; A long run; Richie Havens; A short media career; Spring clean your speech; Get the timing right; E M Forster has a lot to answer for; An interview with Robin Speculand; Music from The B of the Bang
Thursday, April 18, 2013
Hints and tips for media appearances, speaking and social media. This week; The Boston Marathon bombing; Virtually in Abu Dhabi; Dove real beauty; Happy the goldfish; Speaking - it’s a con trick; Toughing it out; Beware the Autotweet; An interview with Adam Clarkson of Holler; Music from Amy Campbell
Monday, April 15, 2013
The latest faux pas has been caused by his comments in the guest book at the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam. Mr Bieber wrote; "Truly inspiring to be able to come here. Anne was a great girl. Hopefully she would have been a belieber.”
Like millions of others, I have also visited the Anne Frank House and been deeply moved by her story. Seeing the tiny space in which she and her family hid for years from the German occupiers, only to be captured and killed just before the war ended, brings home the tragedy of the Second World War. Mr Bieber was clearly affected by his visit, but sadly managed to define his feelings in terms of his own fame.
There's little doubt that Mr Bieber's fans will care little for the way in which he summed up his experience. For them, he can do no wrong. However, the impression that he is wrapped up in his own publicity bubble is growing. Perhaps he feels that controversy sells. Maybe he's just badly advised. Maybe he just needs to think a little bit harder about the impact of his behaviour and his words.
Picture credit: By Joe Bielawa Uploaded by MyCanon (Justin Bieber) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Friday, April 12, 2013
It's easy to understand the offence that could be caused by playing the song, before a funeral has even taken place. It's hardly a precedent, since in years past, BBC has banned a number of tracks, including "Give Ireland back to the Irish" by Wings, "God Save the Queen" by the Sex Pistols, and even "Boom bang-a-bang" by diminutive popster Lulu, which was removed from airplay during the first Gulf War.
Of course, times change, and almost all of the songs once banned by the BBC are now played on a regular basis. However, censorship has always been arbitrary. For example, it's hard to understand how songs like "Walk on the Wild Side" by Lou Reed escaped the censors, other than they presumably had no idea what "giving head" meant.
Is the BBC's muddled solution the correct one? Since it will probably attract complaints from both sides, it may be seen as maintaining impartiality. In a few months time, the whole thing will have been forgotten, and people will be wondering what was all the fuss about a song from the 1930s that lasts less than a minute, and has no rude words in it.
I suspect that Baroness Thatcher herself would have been highly amused by the affair. She never shirked controversy, and even seemed to thrive on it. Any wicked witch would have stood no chance against her.
Thursday, April 11, 2013
Hints and tips for media appearances, speaking and social media. This week; Legacy (it’s a theme); Margaret Thatcher; The Olympics; David Mellor; A sorry bunch of Cher fans; Leave a lasting impression; That’s not what you said before; Your social media footprints don’t fade; An interview with Darren Lacroy; Music from Simon Kirke
Monday, April 08, 2013
The former grocer's daughter from Grantham will undoubtedly be listed alongside the likes of Winston Churchill and Tony Blair as someone who affected a nation. While Churchill's legacy is strongly positive, Mrs Thatcher's is far more mixed. She gave rise to a noun - "Thatcherism" as a result of her economic strategy, the effects of which are still felt to this day.
To many, she is seen as the saviour of modern Britain. To others, she was someone so focused on her ideology that the damage done by her policies ran deep.
Politics apart, from my point of view as a media commentator, she was one of the best interviewees ever. She always got her point across, regardless of the impertinent questions of her interlocutors. With her PR guru, Lord Bell, she planned many an ambush on policies she disagreed with, such as laying her handkerchief across the tails of model planes painted in the new British Airways livery.
Her funeral will be a huge public event - probably the largest political funeral since Winston Churchill's in the sixties. I shall bid her a fond farewell, not because I agreed with every one of her policies, but as an admirer of her fortitude, courage and powerful communication style.
We shall not see her like again for many a long year.
Picture Credit: By work provided by Chris Collins of the Margaret Thatcher Foundation (Margaret Thatcher Foundation) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)], via Wikimedia Commons
The problem has been caused by tweets that she sent between the ages of 14 and 16, which have been described as offensive, homphobic and drug-related. There's little doubt that the language she used was strong, and the comments very direct, but should she's still very young, and has offered a full apology.
I suspect that if the social media feeds of most young teenagers were analysed, it would be easy to find something to complain about. The question is, should the sorts of daft things that teenagers say be held against them in future? In another more adult sphere, John O'Farrell, the Labour candidate in the recent Eastleigh by-election, was pilloried for a statement he made about Margaret Thatcher many years ago.
In matters of reputation, public judgement always comes into play. What matters is whether people have enough support to ride out the storm, or whether their past behaviour will forever make them "damaged goods". A quick and heartfelt apology always helps, but at the end of the day, it's the opinion of the people they serve that matters. Will they be able to do their job in future, and will people have confidence in them? It looks to me as though the pressure to remove Miss Brown has reached such a peak that it will be hard for her to remain in post, despite the support of her sponsor.
Saturday, April 06, 2013
The closing line of your speech may be the one thing that members of your audience remember as they leave the hall. It's critically important that you deliver it well, and that the content is spot-on. Ideally, it should mirror your opening line, and provide exactly what you promised at the start of your speech.
What are the essential elements of a good close?. I think they include some or most of these:
- Indicate that you are about to finish ("and in conclusion")
- Re-state your core message
- Refer back to the start of your speech
- Use the word "you"
- Call your audience to action
- Deliver a ringing phrase
- Use an analogy ("just as Churchill said")
- Use a quote
- Say simply "Thank you"
- Stay on stage and take the applause
Here's how Winston Churchill did it on June 18th 1940: "But if we fail, then the whole world, including the United States, including all that we have known and cared for, will sink into the abyss of a new Dark Age made more sinister, and perhaps more protracted, by the lights of perverted science. Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duties, and so bear ourselves that if the British Empire and its Commonwealth last for a thousand years, men will still say, 'This was their finest hour.'"
Picture Credit: Alan Stevens