Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Acronyms gone mad!

Seen in the SCMP yesterday (Sorry; South China Morning Post)this Chinese professor has the following letters after his name: SCPM,HPON,LAS,PHD,DIBA,MBA(I know that one!),SNLP,NLPU,IANLP,ABNLP,INLPA,ABH,FAPN,DSA,PTSL,APG.

It makes you wonder how he has time to actually teach anyone.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Here is a good example of relaxed conversation

John Mack talking at Wharton about leadership. The whole piece is good but start at minute 18.00 and watch how he grabs the imagination with great thoughtful pauses. The link is <""> or go to Youtube and search for 'Saving Morgan Stanley, John Mack'.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Nice little quote

Experience is what you get when you don't get what you want.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Please keep the answers short!

If there is one flaw in the excellence of President Obama's speaking skills it is his tendency to go on and on when answering questions. The golden rule is 35 seconds; MAXIMUM! Once you pass that the audience starts to tune out. It is all to do with attention span. We don't mean to, we just do. Those who get the technique of answering questions well make sure that every answer is short (Not terse), but short enough so that the audience find themselves asking more and more questions. One long answer quickly kills the interest.

Friday, September 18, 2009

For some people being natural is boring

Some friend stopped me in the street the other day. He said he had read the book and taken on board the bit about being yourself. But, he said, many people he knew were rather dull. Would it not be a good idea to try to make them more interesting when they present?
He is half right. Some people are quite boring. But do not measure them only on how they behave in the office. After a couple of drinks with their best friends they are often quite animated and interesting.
However, The most important thing is to realise that 'being natural' covers being angry, sad, excited, enthusiastic, etc. All those attitudes are part of being natural. So, yes, it is OK to say to a speaker "How about showing a bit more happiness or enthusiasm?" But do it your way.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Here is a new article about Power Point

This BBC newsletter had the following article from Max Atkinson. Max has many good ideas and he and I agree on many aspects of speaking skills.

I would go even further than him. Saying that 'too many bullets on a slide can be improved by limiting them to one or two' is like saying that you should not fire lots of bullets from a gun at someone; but firing one is OK!

All bullets on slides are useless. They are just the speaker's notes.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Engaging with youth and 'troublesome' teenagers

You should check out this website: Monique Howat has the creativity and a gift to bring out the best in students snd schoolchildren .. in fact, anyone! Her workshops have the kids mesmerised and they leave with all the positive attitudes that are so often ignored by most 'motivational' speakers. She is able to see the positive in even the most rebellious teenager.
Monique also teaches adults how to communicate with youth. A very valuable lesson.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Here is a collection of Interesting Mangement video clips

This is a superb collection of clips, good and bad. The main sin is that the editors insist in cutting as much silence from the clips as possible, so even those whom you can see would have enjoyed engaging us at the end of a great idea have that pause clipped off! I particluarly enjoyed Sanjiv Ahuja and Gerry Robinson.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Sex before speaking?

See?! I promised you that you would enjoy public speaking.

LONDON (Reuters) - Forget pretending you are talking to one person or concentrating on a single point in the audience -- having sex is good way to calm nerves before giving a speech or presentation.
But Stuart Brody, a psychologist at the University of Paisley in Scotland, said it has to be full sexual intercourse to get the best results.
He studied nearly 50 men and women who recorded their sexual activities for two weeks and analyzed its impact on their blood pressure levels when under acute stress, such as when giving a speech.
Brody discovered that the volunteers who had sexual intercourse were the least stressed and had blood pressure levels that returned to normal more quickly than people who engaged in other types of sex.
But people who had abstained from sex had the highest blood pressure response to stress.
Even after taking into account stress due to work or other factors, the range of responses to stress were best explained by sexual behavior.
"The effects are not attributable simply to the short-term relief afforded by orgasm but rather, endure for at least a week," Brody told New Scientist magazine said on Wednesday.
He believes that the release of the so-called "pair bonding" hormone oxytocin might explain the calming effect.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Good laughs and bad

Good Laughs and Bad, reproduced from our news letter.
Wise communicators realize there are good laughs and bad laughs. A "good laugh" for top communicators is when they are laughing at themselves and using self-effacing humor.

Top salespeople, managers and executives spend considerable time teaching people an abundance of new information. Laughing at yourself fills our need for laughter and diminishes the probability of coming across as too preachy. When you laugh at yourself, people like you that much more and, all things being equal, are more likely to buy from you.

A simple example: Let's say you are struggling to add up a customer's order. You say, "Allow me a moment to double-check my numbers. Being a math major fortunately was not part of the job requirements."

Many managers may worry that using self-effacing humor will reduce their credibility. This couldn't be further from the truth. Humility is truly a virtue.

Laughing at yourself has many benefits. Besides physically and emotionally making you feel better, sharing funny foibles on your road to success only humanizes you.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

You will forget the customer at your peril.

I enjoyed this article from Luke Johnson of the Financial Times. In our challenge helping people manage their sales and business development this makes a lot of sense. Johnson. See the article "Forget the customer at your peril".

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Giving your Offspring a Headstart?

The above does seem to be a huge link! On the chance that it does not work go to and search for Mildred Law. She wrote an article called Parent's Say on the 3rd July.

I love her argument. She so sensibly dismisses the mad rush of many parents to try to give everything to their children. Great sensible logic.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Yes! 50 Scientifically Proven Ways to be Persuasive

I have just scrolled throught the precis of this interesting book. In fact my colleague, Case Everaert, wrote an interesting comment or two.
I was startled by one of the 'ways'which stated that "abstract names allow customers to come up with reasoning." It then used, as an example, crayola calling its crayons cornflower blue and kermit green.
It is precisely because cornflower and kermit are NOT abstract that the tactic worked so well. They make us instantly imagine a picture of a blue cornflower or a green kermit.

Abstract means no imagination, no mental pictures. Rather the opposite of what the authors are implying.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Seminar at the Canadian Chamber of Commerce

Yesterday I delivered a talk at the Hong Kong Canadian Chamber of Commerce. The theme was SILENCE. We measured the ammount of talking compared to silence in a normal two way conversation. There is a very excellent tool to do this. It is called Dexster. It measures noise as spikes and silence is 'flat lines'. The audience was amazed that, in a normal two way conversation, there is about 30% silence. We then measured a very good speech. There was almost 60% silence!

The evidence is conclusive. When we get it right we allow the listener one third of the time to speak and between us there is a further one third of silence while we think about what each of us has said.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Interview on Radio three, RTHK in Hong Kong

I had a fun interview on the radio yesterday, primarily promoting the book but also trying to raise awareness of the nonsense we are told about speaking skills.

The link is:

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Women as public speakers

My company, Black Isle, is embarking on a training programme with the women managing directors of a very large investment bank. We are asked to help them become better business speakers. The interesting challenge is to convince the women that the worst thing they can do is try to be like or be 'better' than the men.
Women are brilliant communicators and listeners. They deserve the reputation of being able to sense what sort of person they are dealing with from the very outset. Men are usually hopeless at spotting a fraud, until it is too late.
But, hisorically, I can hardly think of any great women public speakers.
Much of the problem is that they have traditionaly tried to be 'like' good men speakers.
By the end of July we will have much data on how our advice worked. Watch this space.

I would welcome any advice from any source that will help us structure the workshop. Also, if anyone can point out good examples of women speakers, I would be most grateful.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Hit Me Again!... I can Still Hear Him! - NOW ON SALE

I am pleased to report that my book, twenty years in the writing, is now on sale. It can be bought via the website at:

We have tried to make the buying process as simple as possible - a few clicks and a copy will be on its way to you.

The book dispels most of the conventional wisdom on public speaking and is an ideal tool for anyone who needs to communicate to large or small groups on a regular basis. I have done all possible to keep it jargon free and make it a fun, accessable, and informative read for all.

Stocks are limited so please go online and order your copy now - only US$18.99 plus postage.

Monday, April 27, 2009

You Tube Link! - Obama at Notre Dame

OK, I have been critical of Obama recently as I believe that a lot of his White House speeches have been too smooth, and even rushed. I compared him to his original speeches where he was so natural and relaxed.

But look at this clip of his recent talk at Notre Dame university. Hi is back to his best. Everyone was won over because he came across as so believable and honest, whilst talking about what is a very delicate and controversial issue.

Great control of silence. He does not try to talk when they are cheering, He enjoys it and welcomes it.

By way of contrast, see here how Michael Martin, speaker of the House of Commons in the UK, delivers a key statement to the House. The contrast could not be starker - the lack of eye contact, the defensive body language, and the "dead" delivery only serve to emphasise the distance between the speaker and his audience.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Here is an interesting article about charisma.

A lot of this article makes sense but it is a cop out to say that some people can mesmerise audiences and others can't. Just like anyone who has some form of hand/eye co-ordination can be coached to do a really successful golf shot, so most humans can be 'taught' some of the principles of mesmerising an audience.

The first concept that has to be accepted is that 'smooth' and 'polished' are disasters. Humans listen because the person talking displays, with confidence, all the human frailties that endear us to a real person talking. It is a weakness to learn to follow rules as laid down by some committee so that you avoid being different but look like everyone else.

More soon.