Off the Shelf... and Into the Bin

There's a big, smiling, alluring, come hither temptation when you're asked to give a talk, lecture, or teaching session...

It's understandable. We're all busy. There are plenty of other demands on our time.

So we're very tempted to find the notes on that session we did before, and regurgitate it.



Because yes, sure, it will probably be adequate.

It'll fill the space, tick the box, get a polite round of dutiful applause at the end.

Score you as average/ok/fine on the feedback forms.

But do you really think that's enough?

Sufficient to impress the people in the audience... Read more

Winks of Fate

Life can sometimes drop you a hint to let you know that you're on the right track. 

And - happily enough, in my experience - often at moments when you need it.

I know that's a big, bold thing to say, touching on religion, and philosophy, but hear me out -

One such moment happened to me this week, and, looking back, they've come visiting quite a few times before. 

I was out for a run along the River Cam, and reached a point where I would normally turn back. 

But this Christmas,... Read more

A Legacy Resolution

It might be a little pompous (you know me), but this week a thought came to me which I liked.

It struck me as very worthwhile, a legacy thing even, and so I plan to adopt it.

I don't usually bother with New Year resolutions, but I was out on a run, musing away as I do...

And perhaps the scenery inspired me. 

I was thinking about the various stages of life, and how we embrace them. 

At the start of our careers we tend to be go getters, full of energy, throwing... Read more

Superpowers and Secret Weaknesses

I was asked a couple of excellent questions this week. 

I've always liked questions.

They've looked after me well in my years as a journalist, and are much underrated in life.      

How else do we make progress if we don't ask questions?      

Why do those birds have such different beaks? (C Darwin) Why did that apple fall on my head? (I Newton) Why don't I have a vote? (E Pankhurst) etc etc.     

These two questions were powerful because they forced me to think about myself, react fast, and in front of an important audience. 

... Read more

Commerce in Character

Scenario - you're faced with a choice of two products. 

They could be goods, like tins of beans or crime novels, or services, like communications training and support. 

They're roughly equal in terms of what they're offering, quality and content wise, and price too. 

So, which do you choose? 

If that was me - and based on the majority of experiences I hear - you go for the one you like the look or sound of most.

In other words, the character of the product.

Which is why image, and the way we present ourselves, can be so important. 

Two... Read more

Paradigm Shifts

Some moments in life just take your breath away. 

And being the curious and magnificent phenomenon that it is, life can spring them upon you at the most mundane times. 

They can teach you important lessons, as well. 

So, the preamble aside, what am I talking about now (as regular readers of these musings must be very familiar with thinking)?

On Friday, I went out for a run. 

Ok, there was nothing remarkable about that.

I try to do 2 or 3 a week, to keep this aged old body is some kind of a passable shape, despite all the... Read more

Faces in the Crowd

One of the most common questions I get asked in my communications work is this - 

How can you feel confident while you're giving a presentation?

Where does that sense of knowing you're getting through, saying the right things, and making an impact come from? 

The answer? I have a little trick that I find always helps.

I gave a couple of presentations last week, which were both challenging in their ways. 

Above is a picture from my talk at Exeter College in Devon, my dear old homestead.

I was speaking to some... Read more

A Very British Problem

I get to see a lot of presentations in my communications consultancy work, and there's a certain very noticeable something which is often lacking.

It's a shame, because it's both important and effective. 

And it's a very British problem, which can be easily remedied - 

Incidentally, it's also something I think is fundamental to me doing passably well as a tutor.

Why did this careers lecture go well (apart from me doing my Dad dancing impersonation)?

Because I had a terrific twenty years with the BBC as a News Correspondent, and I wasn't... Read more

Fixing the Odds in Changing Careers

When I was thinking about changing careers, I was given one piece of excellent and indispensable advice. 

It's something I've handed on to a few other people since, it always seems to work, and so is probably time I wrote about.

For me, the time was 18 months ago, and it was a very big move.

I was contemplating leaving the security, renown and prestige of the BBC, to test myself as a teacher and trainer here in Cambridge. 

I'm very glad I did, as the move was a renaissance for me, allowing me to learn new skills and do... Read more

Teaching, Speeching and a Wonderful Whisper

There's one big, tempting, sabre toothed trap that people can fall into when teaching. 

I've seen a fair few examples of it in my years at conferences, schools, and universities, watching others do their thing.

It's kind of understandable, but that doesn't make it any more forgiveable. And it's this - 

Confusing teaching with speeching. 

I was privileged to speak at two fantastic events this week, which both went really well. 

The inaugural Cambridge Social Media Day, above, was fortunate to see none of it. 

And another, which did see a little, and I... Read more