Tim Peake; Chris Christie; ‘Tis the season; In the few seconds we have left; Give away your knowledge, sell your expertise; An interview with, and music from, Ellie Rose.
Thursday, December 10, 2015
Floods in Cumbria; Donald Trump; Personal stories; Nicholas Smith; Tyson Fury; Prepare, Prepare, Prepare; Always move forward, never back; It’s all in the delivery; An interview with Dale Irvin; Music from David Knopfler
Tuesday, December 08, 2015
In the world of reality TV, life is simple. Things are right or wrong. People are good or bad. There are no shades of grey. There's also a person in charge who makes the rules, with no reference to anyone else. Their decisions can't be challenged, and their power is absolute.
In the real world, things are different. There's complexity, uncertainty and shades of opinion. Not everything is binary. It's much more difficult for one person to have absolute power, since people must be persuaded to follow a course of action, rather than told what to do.
I suspect that a large part of Mr Trump's appeal to a certain sector of the US population is that he has simplified everything. He says Muslims are bad, non-Muslims are good. He says Mexican immigrants are thieves and rapists, but US citizens are honest. He says gun owners are patriotic and strong, but those who argue for gun control are liberal and weak. There's no grey in his world at all.
People often yearn for simplicity. They want to be told who is good, and who is bad. Back in the days of the Wild West, it was easy - white hats or black hats. Now it's so much more difficult, and Mr Trump has provided a solution - just look at someone's religion, politics or country of origin.
Of course, life is not a reality show. Even "reality shows" are scripted these days. They often end in tears, just as Mr Trump's naive and simplistic view of the world will do when faced with political reality.
Image credit: Creative Commons license
Friday, December 04, 2015
Three top professionals; The Syria debate; 1 to 1 coaching; Hilary Benn; David Cameron; The Murray Method; Play your cards right; I’ve started so I’ll finish; An interview with Ravi Tangri; Music from Rob Corcoran
Thursday, November 26, 2015
Black Friday or not; Adele’s new album; One-to-one coaching; The Church of England; John McDonnell; Where’s your evidence?; A magic message; Don’t follow the herd; An interview with Mikki Williams; Music from Alex Lipinsk
Thursday, November 19, 2015
The tragedy in Paris; Jonah Lomu; Antoine Leiris; Ken Livingstone; Making things clear; Are you one of them or one of us?; Should you post as you or your brand?; An interview with Susan Luke Evans; Music from The Lost Hollow Band
Thursday, November 12, 2015
Athletics in the spotlight; My year-long coaching programme; Allen Toussaint; Haunted Eastbourne; You’re on in five minutes; Live on Location; Four social networks, three tips each; An interview with Gered Mankowitz; Music from Ainsley Diaz Stevens
Monday, November 09, 2015
The head of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), Sebastian Coe, has a huge job on his hands. It's as bad, if not worse, than the task faced by whoever takes over as the head of FIFA.
What does an organisation - indeed an entire sport - do to recover from a reputational body blow like this? There are some clear steps, which apply in every situation where a reputation is damaged.
1) Come clean
Every stone must be lifted, and every drain inspected. The full extent of wrong-doing must be revealed, before any action can be taken to repair the damage.
2) Explain the remedial action
We all need to know what measures are being put in place to ensure this dreadful position never occurs again. That really is as difficult as it sounds.
3) Rebuild trust
In order to restore confidence, trusted individuals must take the reins and be responsible for all future testing. That requires much greater transparency, better communication and more thorough procedures.
4) Declare the crisis over
Only when every guilty party has been dealt with, all wrong-doing has been exposed, and robust measures put in place can the crisis be ended ,by the organisation that produced the report. That day is a long way off.
If you were, or indeed if you are, involved in athletics, how would you react?
Image credit: Creative Commons Licence
Thursday, November 05, 2015
Volkswagen still in trouble; My speaker coaching programme; The Canadian PM; The Icelandic PM; Pacing and Pausing; They asked Nasty Questions!; Punch above your weight; An interview with the late Dan Poynter; Music from the Dustbowl revival
Thursday, October 29, 2015
A 10-year celebration; Is Trump a Master or Mug?; A naughty coffee shop; Sepp Blatter; Cut out the Cliches; Riff off the News; The revolution is being televised; An interview with Sarah Fox; Music from David Knopfler
Thursday, October 22, 2015
A TED-inspired event; The big autumn TV Shows; Jamie Oliver; One Million Moms; Start Strongly; Spread your publicity far and wide; Who did you say you were?; An interview with Jo Roberts; Music from Robbie Boyd
Friday, October 16, 2015
Exceptional Speaker Masterclass - job done; The Apprentice; Dennis Healey; A Cecil costume for Halloween?;They think it’s all over; On the phone, on the radio; Four reasons to write blogs; An interview with Pam Lontos; Music from Lisbee Stainton
Friday, October 09, 2015
Professional Speakers Convention; Party Conferences; Trevor Noah; Ronnie Pickering; More Classical Rhetoric; Love at first bite; Some people don’t like me; An interview with Paul du Toit; Music from David Knopfler
Friday, October 02, 2015
A hat-trick of media appearances; No bacon jokes; Sarah Teale; A selfie spoon; now- where was I?; TV Interviews in the early morning; You don’t have to be everywhere; An interview with Martin Laschkolnig; Music from Alex Lipinski
Thursday, September 24, 2015
Smoke and Mirrors at Volkswagen; 400 words for snow; Yogi Berra; An Unfit Bit; Five Questions, Two Actions; Five ways to get noticed by the media; Are you vacant or engaged?; An interview with Jeremy Lee; Music from The Lost Hollow Band
Tuesday, September 22, 2015
that the emission test cheating engine management software at the centre of the "Dieselgate" controversy is installed in 11 million Volkswagen Group cars worldwide.When the story broke a couple of days ago, the extent of the deception appeared to cover around half a million vehicles in the USA. That was already bad enough to knock twenty per cent from the share price. Now things have become much worse.
Prior to this debacle, VW had valued its brand at over thirty billion dollars in its annual report. That value has fallen off a cliff, and the full extent of the scandal is still unclear. It's possible that the "defeat device" designed to fool emission tests, may not fall foul of every country's standards. However, that isn't the point. The damage to their brand reputation has already been done, and recovery will be a long and painful process.
So what's to be done? How should a company that's scored a disastrous own goal try to win back the confidence of customers?
The first thing to do is come out with their hands up, as they now seem to be doing. They need to admit the full extent of any wrongdoing, and explain how it happened.
Secondly, they need to show that the people responsible are held to account. How far up the organisation did the knowledge go? Who made the decision to include a "defeat device"? How long has this been going on? It may be that criminal charges are laid, but that will require a detailed investigation. For now, VW need to reassure people that the investigation is under way, and not just by internal inspectors.
In cases as serious as this appears to be, those at the very top of the organisation have to go. There's no way of restoring confidence unless new managers are seen to be in charge. CEO Martin Winterkorn can start putting his desk toys into cardboard boxes. I suspect that many other heads will roll in the next few days and weeks.
Next, there is an apology and compensation. Everyone who has been affected by this affair needs to feel that they have been recompensed. That may sink the company, or cause its break-up, given the massive potential scale of the problem.
VW also needs to make itself the centre of information about the issue. They should give regular press briefings, correct any misinformation, and be completely transparent about the findings of any investigation.
Finally, when the dust has settled and the guilty have been dealt with, VW should declare the crisis over, an make an act of generous contrition. It will be a long and painful time before that day dawns.
Image credit : Creative Commons Licence
Thursday, September 17, 2015
Politics is spicing up; A clock is not a bomb; Paul Zerdin; Steve Rannazzisi; Getting from here to there; Get ready for your close-up; Same here, same there; An interview with Sean Weafer; Music from David Knopfler
Thursday, September 10, 2015
30 years of Italian plumbers; Her majesty and Wayne Rooney; Paula Radcliffe; Donald Trump; How credible are you?; Becoming a go-to spokesperson; Work with your superfans; An interview with Bob Mills of Expertsources; Music from the Lost Hollow Band
Friday, September 04, 2015
Back to school; Exceptional Speaker Masterclasses; 101 plays; Bill Turnbull; Scott Waring: No need to apologise; Being in the moment; It’s not who you know, it’s who they know; An interview with Diane di Resta; Music from Jennifer Haase
Thursday, August 27, 2015
Thursday, August 20, 2015
No more silly season; Exceptional Speaker Masterclasses; A great networking deal; Banksy’s new exhibit; No boats on the pond; A speaker from the block; Head to Head; You don’t have to stay friends; An interview with Gilda Bonanno; Music from Mick Terry
Thursday, August 13, 2015
Proud Dad moment; Exceptional Speaker Masterclasses; TV Anchor John Brown; DJ Alex Dyke; I’ve started so I’ll finish; Seven ways to get international publicity; I thought you’d never ask; An interview with Dr Lynda Shaw; Music from Robbie Boyd
Friday, August 07, 2015
Test Match very Special; Any musicians around?; Jon Stewart; Cilla Black, Noel Edmonds; You can’t make several big points; Hi, I’m from the Sunday Times; William Morris and Social Media; An interview with Rory Cellan-Jones; Music from The Dust Bowl Revival
Thursday, July 30, 2015
A few days in New York City; An invitation to appear on this show; Young and Strange; Walter Palmer and the lion; Thesis and Antithesis; Controlling the Message; Meetup to Tweetup; An interview with Doug Stevenson; Music from the Dust Bowl Revival.
Thursday, July 23, 2015
Two thousand speakers in Washington; Speaking across the Atlantic; Taylor Swift; Bill Cosby; Gladstone’s Rules; Poorly-trained Interviewers; Become a specialist; An interview with Carolyn Strauss; Music from Ashton Lane
Friday, July 17, 2015
Thursday, July 09, 2015
Sport and News; Speakers gather in Washington; Drones and Crop Circles; A Russian Straight Flag; Are you Interesting?; Seven ways to ruin a media release; Four ways to benefit from blogging; An interview with Craig Price; Music from Lee Robert
Thursday, July 02, 2015
Thursday, June 25, 2015
Thursday, June 18, 2015
Friday, June 12, 2015
I've watched the interview several times. As a fellow journalist who specialises in training CEOs to cope with crisis interviews, I think Ms Burley did nothing wrong. The interview could have been shorter, but that's not Ms Burley's fault, since she was no doubt being directed from the gallery, and being told to keep going.
Mr Varney spoke well, and expressed his concern and sympathy for the victims. However, he also referred to introducing "another level of safety", which begged the question as to why that wasn't already in place. Any professional journalist would have probed him on that point.
However, I suspect this is more about another issue - Ms Burley's gender. If the interview had been conducted by a male journalist, Paxman-style, I don't think there would have been a similar outcry. The fact that many of the insults refer to her as a "bitch", "cow' or even worse, indicate that people feel that being a woman and being an assertive interviewer is unaceptable.
It's perhaps telling that when Jeremy Clarkson admitted to punching a member of his production team, a million people signed a petition to have him reinstated. In 1997, Jeremy Paxman was widely praised for asking former Home Secretary Michael Howard the same question fourteen times in a row. However, Ms Burley's repeated questioning of safety standards following a serious accident is seen as intrusive.
It seems to me that the wave of criticism has more than a whiff of sexism about it. Sky News should express their confidence in Ms Burley, and ask her to get on with her job of holding public figures to account.
Image credit: Creative Commons
Thursday, June 04, 2015
Sepp Blatter resigns - did the sponsors push him?; Charles Kennedy; Eddie McGuire; On the button; Picking the right messenger; Show and Tell; An interview with John Richardson of the Coffee Boys; Music from Robbie Boyd
Thursday, May 28, 2015
Of course, Sepp Blatter, the dear leader, has distanced himself from the latest, and all previous, corruption allegations. I'm not suggesting for a moment that he is criminally liable, but he has been on the scene of the crime for a very long time. He's presided over the debacle, and has therefore at the very least been incompetent and negligent. It's time for him to retire.
However, he has been Machiavellian in his use of FIFA's largesse to the smaller nations, realising that The Cook Islands (population 24,000) has the same number of votes as the USA, and is much easier to get onside with grants for football development. He's not only given money, but also power to many countries who adore him for it.
The departure of Mr Blatter would deal with one major complaint, at least from Europe and North America. But the problem runs much deeper. Untangling the FIFA web of payments, favours, and even bribes will take months or years. I wonder if FIFA can ever be made fit for purpose?
The real question though, is how much does it matter to the sponsors? They hold the key. If global corporations decide that their reputations are being damaged by association with FIFA, they will move their funding elsewhere. That's a big "if" too. The World Cup, for all its problems, is still a huge global event, and most people are more interested in the tournament itself rather than how it came to be held in an unexpected venue. Only if FIFA implodes will change occur.
My guess is that Mr Blatter, even if re-elected, won't see out his term. He may resign, or be forced out. In the longer term though, I suspect the task of cleaning out the filth from the Augean Stables at FIFA is something that even Hercules couldn't accomplish overnight.
Photo credit: Creative Commons
Wednesday, May 27, 2015
When asked about the repeal of the European Human Rights Act, that is known to have been delayed for a year or so, she said: “What I’m saying is that we can’t talk about the entire contents of the Queens Speech the morning before it’s given…. I’m not speculating about it one way or the other; what I’m saying is it’s a clear manifesto commitment from the Conservative party.”
What an utterly pointless answer. I'm sure Ms Truss was doing her best, but it was a complete shambles. She only gave a firm answer to one question - she will be supporting the reintroduction of fox-hunting. That's all we learned from the entire interview, and it wasn't even news, since she's said it before.
Most surprisingly, she said several times "We don't actually know the contents of the Queen's Speech". Really? She's a Government minister. Is she not in the loop? It also sounded as though she was reading a script, which should have been easy to conceal since she wasn't live in the BBC Studio, but down the line in Westminster.
Ms Truss was either completely evasive or very badly briefed. Either way it's a very poor piece of spin.
Of course, she's hardly had a glittering career in oratory, as Have I Got News For You pointed out:
So at least she's doing something for the satire industry, not to mention having a name that's handy for a punning headline. Not all bad then...
Thursday, May 21, 2015
Unlimited riches, or not; Up Periscope; Black Sabbath; Aidy Ward; Picking the Best Target; Waving the flag; 10 questions to ask a social media expert; An interview with Max Dubiel of Black Sheep Coffee; Music from Kate McRae
Monday, May 18, 2015
Back in 2006, a family bought a holiday in Corfu, through Thomas Cook. It ended in tragedy, with two small children dead and their parents critically ill, caused by carbon monoxide poisoning from a faulty boiler. The hotel was found to be responsible, and four people were convicted of offences. No-one from Thomas Cook was found to be liable. That's the legal position. However, there's another very important issue - Thomas Cook's reputation. Here are three massive mistakes made by the company.
1) No apology
A statement from Thomas Cook says that an apology was sent to the parents a few days ago. That's a few days ago, over eight years after the tragedy. However, the parents claim not to have received the recent apology, even though Thomas Cook gave copies to reporters.
2) No empathy
The silence from Thomas Cook, and the refusal of their representatives to answer questions in court creates an image of a company that doesn't care about their customers. It's likely that their lawyers advised them not to say anything that might incriminate them, so they said nothing at all.
3) No restorative action
Last week, it was revealed that Thomas Cook had received £3.5Million in compensation from the hotel - ten times what the parents received. The payment was in part for buying consultancy to limit the damage to their reputation - a huge irony. It would have been easy for them to hand that money to the parents, or to a charity of their choice. Nothing can compensate for the death of a child, but keeping a large payment which dwarfs the amount received by parents is simply crass.
The rules of the game are really simple:
- Express sorrow and empathy early (that doesn't mean it's your fault)
- People take the highest priority - go and talk to them
- Communicate often
- Take control and act appropriately
- Provide help and assistance
- Perform an act of goodwill
Thursday, May 14, 2015
Friday, May 08, 2015
Monday, May 04, 2015
1. Tagging in unrelated images. I'm sure you've been a victim of this one. You see a notification that you've been tagged in a post, and when you take a look it's an image with a motivational cliche or an advert for an event.
2. An invitation to play an online game. If you're the type that enjoys Candy Crush, the chances are you are already playing it. Constant requests to join people you don't know playing a game you don't care for are pointless.
3. A personal attack. However strongly you feel about an issue, there's no point being rude to someone who disagrees (even if they started it). Just walk away, in a virtual manner.
4. One-track posts. Posting on one theme all the time, such as motivational quotes, is dull in the extreme.
5. Telling people what to do. Advice is fine, since people can choose to take it or ignore it. Instruction is quite different. Telling someone that they simply must take the course of action you suggest is arrogant and rude.
6. Sending personal messages to strangers. There's an etiquette here. If you haven't had any connection with someone, don't send them a PM.
7. Adding people to groups. This is incredibly rude. Adding people to your group without asking first is like online kidnapping. Don't do it.
So there you go. On the other hand, if you are polite, helpful and respectful of the views of others, you'll have plenty of friends.
Thursday, April 30, 2015
Thursday, April 23, 2015
Thursday, April 16, 2015
Football on the brain; Cape Town Convention; Baxters’ Monster; Dundee by name; Are you really there?; Dealing with tricky interview questions; Reasons to be blogging (Part 1); An interview with Rita Rudner; Music from Paul Carrack
Thursday, April 09, 2015
Off to South Africa; Virtual and hybrid events; Eddie Murphy; President Rafael Correa; Do I need to book a professional?; They didn’t ask the right questions; Three social media concerns; An interview with Julie Creffield; Music from The 1957 Tail-Fin Fiasco
Friday, April 03, 2015
Friday, March 27, 2015
Both leaders had obviously been heavily coached before the event, and you could see them almost bursting to get to their prepared sound bytes via a question vaguely related, or sometimes not related at all, to the point they'd rehearsed. They faced Jeremy Paxman across a weird object that may have been a bar table left over from Star Wars, or a fishtank that had fallen over. It may have been designed to keep them from doing a Clarkson on Paxman, but it led to them shouting answers at a bloke several yards away.
The expected line of questioning emerged; "So, Mr Cameron, you're a posh bloke with posh friends who are a bit dodgy aren't you" and "So Mr Miliband, you're a bit weird with a smarter brother, eh?" Both Ed and David handled things pretty well, with Ed clearly having been given a note that said "Show a bit of passion" and David having been advised to lean back and say "Let me explain..." as if someone was trying to stop him.
But what did we learn about the bid for number ten? Er..not much. Expectations were fairly low, and they weren't exceeded by much. In my assesment, Ed Miliband performed slightly better, and seemed to wrong-foot Paxman when he simply admitted that Labour had made mistakes. Cameron wasn't as strong as he might have been on the economy, but didn't do himself any real harm.
Overall, will it influence the result of the General Election? No.
Picture Credit: Creative Commons License
Thursday, March 26, 2015
Thursday, March 19, 2015
Apple watch; Big Brother remains; We Want Plates; Starbucks and race; Joining me on the platform tonight; Ten Media No-Nos; The largest amplifier in the world; An interview with Julie Creffield; Music from The Lost Hollow Band
Thursday, March 12, 2015
A slip of the tongue; Eurovision Song Contest; Terry Pratchett; Jeremy Clarkson; Ten perfect pitching tips; Inspired by true events; Message first, social network second; An interview with Kimberly Davis; Music from Mary Hopkin
Thursday, March 05, 2015
The election begins; Hall and Oates; Leonard Nimoy; “Spock” your banknotes; A little less rabbit; Be Reliable- Be an Expert; E M Forster and LinkedIn; An interview with Wayne Morris of Guidebook; Music from the 1957 Tail-Fin Fiasco
Friday, February 27, 2015
Thursday, February 19, 2015
Friday, February 13, 2015
Friday, February 06, 2015
As it turned out, much of the programme consisted of audience members shouting at Mr Galloway, and his responses often being drowned out by further interruptions. David Dimbleby called for order on several occasions, and finally managed to quiet the crowd when he called for individual comments, though he managed to select two who opposed Mr Galloway, and one in favour.
I've worked with Mr Galloway on radio phone-ins (I took the photo attached to this piece), and though I don't know him well or agree with all his views, I believe he has a perfect right to express them. That's what freedom of speech is about.
The question that caused the row was about the unprecedented rise in anti-Semitic attacks in the UK. It was: “Why is antisemitism rising in the UK and does a certain member of the panel bear some responsibility?”.
In response, Mr Galloway said: "Antisemitism is a foul form of racism that in the 1930s led to the Holocaust. If I had been born then I would have been the first in the line in the recruitment office to fight fascism. Everything that has been said here with melancholy about the shadow cast by the rise in Antisemitism could be said many fold about the Islamophobia and fear of Muslims in Britain and attacks on Muslim property. Why can’t we all oppose Antisemitism and Islamophobia? Why not oppose the attacks not only on kosher, but halal?”. That sounds a fair response to me, but audience members kept up their barracking.
I believe the BBC made an error in setting up the show as it did, and the events were inevitable. Question Time is about comments on major news stories, and one of the most prominent, the Government takeover of Rotherham Council after a child abuse enquiry, wasn't even mentioned. Even Nicky Morgan, the Education Secretary had an easy ride, after trying to argue that "flat cash" funding for schools was "Not a cut, since the money stays the same". She clearly hasn't heard of the concept of inflation.
No-one wants to watch a boring debate. However, setting up a situation where one panellist is subjected to abuse by a hostile audience is a shameful editorial act. I'm a huge supporter of the BBC when they get it right. This time they got it wrong.
Picture Credit : Alan Stevens
Thursday, February 05, 2015
The power of propaganda; Last chance to win; Like a Girl; Brian wan’t there; How to be Original; The first time you meet a reporter; Novak Djokovic’s social media; An interview with Joe Vitale; Music from Ainsley Diaz Stevens
Thursday, January 29, 2015
Benedict Cumberbatch; Oscar speech competition; Auschwitz survivors stories; Sarah Palin; How many of you are individuals?; Who are you again?; Recommend, Refer, Promote; An interview with Tony Hawks; Music from Henrik
Friday, January 23, 2015
Back from Bulgaria; Oscar speech competition; Jon Stewart; The drugs don’t work; Are you suffering from TMI?: Can I make my point?; The great pretenders; An interview with Blake Snyder. Music from the 1957 tail-fin fiasco.
Thursday, January 15, 2015
David Cameron says no; High-level speaker coaching; Push-button cocktails; Steven Emerson; Don’t be a tease; Give me news now; The ten rules of anti-social media; An interview with Nick Bradley; Music from The 1957 Tail-Fin Fiasco
Friday, January 09, 2015
A dark week for journalism; Virtual Speaking; Speaker Coaching; Charlie Hebdo; Fox News; Storyboarding your speech; Not being there; Who do you know who knows something?; An interview with Judson Laipply; Music from Geoff Gibbons
Sunday, January 04, 2015
In recent years, there seem to be more and more conspiracy theories (and what's worse, more gullible souls who believe them). I was at a dinner party recently when the topic of conspiracies arose. To my astonishment, more than half of the people there agreed that "the moon landings were faked", and three people were adamant that the 9/11 attacks were "orchestrated by the CIA".
Notwithstanding the fact that I need to be more discerning about accepting dinner party invites, the "evidence" that was quoted was YouTube videos, Facebook groups, and Twitter tweets. Hardly the sort of stuff to stand up in court, but obviously sufficient to convince some people.
So here's my take on conspiracy theories. It's hard for each of us to keep a secret. It's harder if three or four people know. It becomes increasingly difficult if thousands of people are sworn to secrecy, to the point that it becomes impossible. What seems to happen is that half-baked theories based on grainy videos are posted and discussed online. Reason and logic, not to mention powers of common sense, seem to leave some people who add to the debates. Before you know it, large numbers of people are believing the impossible.
Here are a few things as a reminder:
- Neil Armstrong walked on the moon in 1969, and so did a number of fellow astronauts
- No-one has ever been abducted by aliens
- Vapour trails from planes are just trails of vapour
- The 9/11 attacks were a terrorist incident
- There is no secret world government run by the Bilderberg group, the Illuminati or even shape-changing lizards
Image credit - Creative Commons license
Thursday, January 01, 2015
It’s a whole new year; Speaking predictions; A crisis handled well; Facebook get it wrong; Some speaking dos and don’ts; Block and Bridge; Three cool Twitter Tools; An interview with Sir Ranulph Fiennes; Music from Jim Boggia