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Challenging and Growing

Of all I teach, media training is probably the toughest for my victims... sorry, I mean the guests on my courses.

I’ve just got back from Northern Ireland, where I had a splendid time, teaching some wonderful professionals the dark arts of mixing it with the media.

As ever, I built a little sightseeing, and very much enjoyed Belfast.

Yes, particularly the pubs - you know me. 

I taught two groups, both with about half a dozen people, and the reaction was certainly interesting.

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Calming a Crisis

I hope you never have to deal with a crisis, either in business or life, but the sad reality is you are likely to be forced to do so…

And there is one critical thing to remember if you do.

My flight back from Edinburgh last week, after working on some communications challenges with the Scottish Government, was delayed by four hours.

Which took the shine off a wonderful trip to a fantastic city.

These things happens, yes, but there are ways to handle it, and there are ways not to handle it.

This is what unfolded…

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The Art of the Job Interview

I’ve been interviewing writers and journalists to work for my new company over the last couple of weeks.

I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how well-prepared some people are, but you wouldn’t believe how even the most basic details seem to have evaded others.

More of that later - it's instructive, if not impressive. 

So, if you’re going for a job interview, or thinking about changing positions, I thought I would set down a dozen quickfire tips to help prepare.

1. Be on time. Preferably, be early.

If you want to blow an interview from the start, there’s little to compare with turning up late for scuppering your chances.

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Timeless Wisdom

I’ve got a big man crush on an ancient Greek.

(When I teach communications, I always emphasise the importance of an opening line, and I think that’s one of the most fun I’ve ever managed!)

The chap in question is Socrates, and I love him because of his great wisdom in the world of teaching and training.

To illustrate - what are the most boring courses or lectures you’ve ever been to?

For me, it’s when the presenter just stands there and waffles, waffles, waffles, and then waffles some more.

There’s no interaction with the audience, no reason to engage, no change of pace, and you quickly drift off into a vain hope that this ordeal is going to pass as quickly as possible.

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The Fairground of Life

The year has certainly begun with a bang.

I’ve taken over a business.

It's something I’ve been thinking about doing since I left the BBC, but the right opportunity hadn’t come up… Until now.

Why, you might well ask, are you looking at a photo of young Simon with his dad?

Because that wonderful man ran his own business, I miss him, and I’m thinking how proud he would be of me right now.

The business is in the media and public relations field, and I’ll talk more about it in later blogs, as I’ve learnt so much in the process of taking it over.

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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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