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The Business of Loneliness

I love life as a freelance, but there is one common problem… 

It can get lonely.

It’s great being able to schedule your own work, choose which projects you take on, and have days off whenever you fancy.

But sometimes, you do miss the buzz of the office.

Even out on the road, you had buddies in the TV trade. 

So here are ten thoughts for fellow freelancers to help alleviate the loneliness... ranging from resolutely practical to entirely oddball (as ever with me).

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The Power of Preparation

It’s coming up for 10 years since the first time I was asked to teach.

That was over a week at the wonderful Swanwick Writers‘ Summer School, which I immediately loved...

Not just because of the shared passion for writing, but the delightful characters.

This is me and some of Charlie’s Angels at a fancy dress event that year.

(It's often been said that I'm a right Charlie, after all.)

I was booked for the teaching in the run-up to Christmas of the year before, leaving eight months until the actual event.

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A Blogging Break

When I teach communications, one of my mantras has it that less is more.

So this week, a short blog, but an important one...

With a Merry Christmas theme!

The modern world grows ever busier.

We’re all under pressure with deadlines, demands, and deals.

It feels counterintuitive, but the strains of modern life means it becomes ever more important to take a break.

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Personalising Your Presentations

There is one guaranteed sure-fire cert of a way of turning an audience off from your public speaking or presentation.

It's to deliver an off the shelf, bog standard, seen it all before talk.

I’ve suffered this more than a few times, and watched the reaction of the audience.

It's remarkable how quickly they become aware, and equally rapidly start muttering, fidgeting, and playing on their phones.

But! There is a simple and straightforward way to avoid falling into this trap.

A little thought, and in a matter of minutes you can personalise your presentation.

For example…

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Well Paid, Well Appreciated, Wellbeing

Wellbeing at work is a big issue for many, but happily I’ve got a simple secret to help yourself feel good.

It’s all about being paid versus being valued.

I’m lucky in that I enjoy just about everything I do (although the paperwork concerned with being self-employed I shall pass no comment on.)

I love my writing, and my teaching, but there is one area which I treasure most of all…

And for me, that’s the secret of true well-being.

I’ve just come back from Guernsey, where I’ve been helping the finance sector with their communications. 

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Cracking Chairing

It looks simple, but - like so many things - it's not quite that straightforward. 

What am I talking about you ask?

Chairing a panel. 

I’ve been lucky enough to moderate some fascinating discussions this year, including with senior figures in Google, the world of literature, and science.

Happily, the feedback on my work has been kind, and people keep asking how to chair a panel successfully.

So, in the spirit of love and sharing, and especially as we enter the festive season, I thought I would set out my 12 chairing tips of Christmas in this blog.


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The Hit or The Hug

An entrepreneur from one of the businesses I support came to see me with a sad story.

(Cue vaguely downcast grey skies ahead image, as you know I’m a sucker for a good picture.)

Things hadn’t been going well for him, as can sometimes be the case. The life of an entrepreneur is never straightforward.

There had been turbulence on the staffing front, customers had raised concerns, he was feeling overworked, had lost his sense of belief, and was considering giving up.

I’ve heard this story more than a few times, and have a simple and effective way of dealing with it.

But before I go on to that, here's the distinguishing factor in this case which surprised, saddened, and frankly, made me bloody angry.

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Drama, Detail and Depth

Presentations and public speaking are complex arts, but I was fortunate to see three of the fundamental principles beautifully demonstrated this week.

If this looks like no ordinary venue for talking about your fledgling business proposal, you would be right.

I’ve had the pleasure of teaching communications to another excellent cohort of students at Cambridge Judge Business School, but for a change this time…

Instead of hearing their presentations in one of the lecture theatres, we moved over the road to the imperious Fitzwilliam Museum.

The students made full use of the space available, starting their talks on the imposing upper level, projecting down at their audience.

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Elevators on the Buses

How do you lure people out of their own worlds and into yours?

This was the question I had to think about before I took up one of my most unusual writing assignments…

Becoming writer in residence on buses around my native Cambridge.

My new novel, The Editor, is set in the city, and I was asked by Stagecoach to join some of its services to talk to passengers about the book.

The problem… I was very aware of how most people deal with a trip on the bus.

Head down in their phone, a paper, or a book, listening to music.

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The Most Precious Currency

I have a pet hate which is a cardinal sin, an affront to civilisation, and a capital offence, all at the same time.

(Now that’s pretty bad!)

I was talking about it as part of an interview I did on my new book, The Editor, with the lovely Suzie Thorpe on Cambridge105 Radio last week. 

As a perceptive inquisitor, she asked where the ideas for my books come from.

The answer to that was simple...

Absolutely anywhere and everywhere.

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