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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Friday, October 10, 2014

The Media Coach 10th October 2014

Professional speakers gather in London; Early BBC; Virtual speaking; Harry Smith; John Lewis boss hates France; Lest we forget; Put yourself on air; How to use Twitter to enhance your event; An interview with Simon Jordan; Music from Ainsley Diaz Stevens

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Thursday, October 02, 2014

The Media Coach 3rd October 2014

Party conferences continue; Virtual Speaking; Lynsey de Paul; Sainsburys; it’s not what you have, it’s what they need; You don’t have to be big to be noticed; How to con people with social media; An interview with Patricia Fripp; Music from Ashton Lane

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Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Speechwatch - David Cameron's 2014 Conference speech.

David Cameron made his last conference speech before the 2015 General Election with a clear aim in mind - to look like a prime minister ready for a second term. His theme; "A Britain everyone is proud to call home" ran throughout, in a statesmanlike delivery that was in some contrast to the forgetful approach from Ed Miliband. Like Barack Obama, Mr Cameron made use of poster-sized autocue screens at the back of the hall. 

Rather than find his case studies on the heath, he sought a Normandy veteran, who received a huge standing ovation early in the speech, which set the tone of patriotism that ran throughout. It was clearly a pre-election speech, sounding not unlike a manifesto, with a number of promises, including a large increase in the tax-free allowance, to help that political meme "hard-working people".

Naturally, he had a jibe at the opposition leader for forgetting to mention the deficit with a nice piece of self-mockery about things he'd forgotten himself. As usual with politicians, he doesn't do humour very well. 

He has a tendency to drop into a soft monotone just before delivering a strong phrase. I detect some coaching there, and I'm not sure it quite works. 

In a remarkable section on education, he accused Labour of "hypocrisy". A bit of pot and kettle there, methinks. He also talked of the Tory party as being a "trade union" for many different groups. That played well in the hall, but the reaction on Twitter was not so warm. He referred to Twitter too, in a quip that fell flat. 

As ever, as do all politicians, he employed a number of triple phrases with rising emphasis, or "clap-traps" as speechwriters call them. They worked well, especially since he emphasised them with a double-handed gesture, which produces almost Pavlovian applause. He's not as adept at applause-surfing

He became emotional in a section about the NHS, receiving a standing ovation, more for the way he spoke than what he said. Quite unusual for a political speech.

There was but one reference to UKIP, played out in a gag about "going to bed with Nigel Farage and waking up with Ed Miliband". Best laugh of the whole speech.

He's not one of the great political orators, coming across more like a competent CEO than an inspirational leader. However, maybe that's what people want. He definitely outperformed the Labour leader, and threw down a gauntlet for the election campaign. Time will tell if he judged it correctly. 

I'd say it's his best conference speech so far. Eight out of ten.

Are Tesco and Sainsbury's going the way of the dinosaurs?

Oh dear oh dear. The news about some big supermarkets has been pretty grim recently. Tesco has admitted that their half-year profits have been overstated by £250 million. That's more than the slip of a finger on a calculator. We'll know more after the Financial Conduct Authority has completed their investigation. But that's not the half of it. Tesco announced a delay in opening two new out-of-town superstores in September. There was fury in Chatteris, Cambridgeshire when the promised store, and the 250 promised local jobs disappeared behind chain-link fences.

Sainsbury's has not been immune to changes in shopping habits either. This morning, they announced that like-for-like sales had fallen for the third quarter in a row, after 36 previous quarters of growth. Sainsbury's is not being particularly bullish about the future either, saying that they expect sales in the second half of the year - including the busy Christmas period - to be "similar" to the first half.

So what went wrong? It seems that like many businesses before them, Tesco and Sainsbury's took their eyes off the ball. They failed to notice the impact of nimble-footed competitors like Aldi and Lidl taking customers away. In July, a YouGov BrandIndex poll found that Aldi was now the UK's favourite brand, despite taking only five per cent of food sales. Lidl was ranked fourth. Sainsbury's was hanging on to tenth place, but Tesco didn't make the top ten.

Warren Buffett said "It takes twenty years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it". It's not all over for Tesco and Sainsbury's by any means, but they need to think about evolving pretty fast. 

Image Credit: Creative Commons licence

Thursday, September 25, 2014

The Media Coach 26th September 2014

A very special edition featuring international speakers Lesley Everett and Sean Weafer speaking about professional speaking globally.

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