Tag Archives | speaking

Why speaking is the new rock’n’roll

The Temperance Movement

The Temperance Movement at Shepherd’s Bush Empire 4/14 (I was there!) by Rob Blackham

Your favourite band records a single. Perhaps an album. They get cover artwork designed. Then they book a tour.

This all costs money upfront, in the hope that people will like their music and buy it.

They have to promote themselves, so they arrange media interviews on shows that their target audience will see or hear, and in areas where they are travelling.

If they’re lucky, they will earn more money than they spend, and people won’t just download or share their music without paying for it.

It’s not miles away from the professional speaking business.

We create a talk. Perhaps a series of talks. We get slides designed. Maybe publish a book or create a course. Then we go out speaking (our US friends would say we go out to ‘rock the platform’).

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Making professional iPhone recordings

I was invited to deliver a workshop at the recent PSA Mega convention. (It was about the 4 x 4 x 4 approach to speaker websites, thank you for asking.) Afterwards, I took my own advice and captured video testimonials from some of the attendees, using my iPhone.

Here’s the video I made.

As you may know, sound quality is important, and you can’t rely on the in-built iPhone microphone to do a good job.

Some people have asked me how I did it. I like to be helpful, so I’ve written this post to answer the question. BUT this is a story about how NOT to do it! It’s a lesson in buy cheap, pay dear’.

Here are the various tools I used, together with the lessons I learned:

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What Michael Bublé can teach us about public speaking

As you may know, one of my main hobbies is jazz dance – I’ve been taking classes since 1983. At the moment, we are learning a lovely routine to ‘Feeling Good’ by Michael Bublé. So I was particularly pleased when one of my PSA* (Professional Speaking Association) contacts recently posted this video on Facebook.

It includes an amazing moment. Watch, and you’ll know exactly when it is.

It is also a demonstration of some great stage-craft. Here are the lessons that can be drawn out:

  • 0:00 Michael responds to Sam’s mum’s intervention by breaking from his performance to sit on the stage and have a private chat with her.

    TIP. Be ready for anything. You never know what questions / challenges you’ll get from the audience.

  • 0:20 Sam’s mum doesn’t have a microphone and can’t be heard by anyone else.

    TIP. When you get questions / interaction from the front that the back of the audience can’t hear, repeat / summarise them

  • 0:50 Michael tells Sam: “I remember being your age”.

    TIP. Identify with the audience

  • 1:20 Michael’s incredulous reaction speaks for itself.

    TIP. It’s OK to show emotion

  • 1:35 Michael brings Sam on-stage and lifts him in a moment of unrestrained joy.

    TIP. Be spontaneous

  • 1:50 Michael directs Sam where to stand, but into the microphone so everyone can hear.

    TIP. Never forget your audience

  • 2:10 Michael draws the rest of the audience in.

    TIP. Use gestures as well as voice

  • 2:20 Michael steps aside, leaving the stage to Sam.

    TIP. Be generous

It may have been an unplanned, unscripted occurrence, but Michael remains in control of what happens throughout – to Sam, to the microphone, to the band, and to the audience. As a result, over 4.5m people have shared the video and fallen a little bit in love with him.

We can learn something from Sam’s performance, too.

  • When you get a chance to showcase your skill, take it
  • Be brave, and make eye contact with the audience
  • Relax, and don’t try too hard

Watch and learn.

*I’ve recently been accepted as a fully fledged Member, one of less than 200 in the country.


What’s the point?

My dad tells a story about a friend of his who visited the United States. As you may know, the US visa entry form you fill in on the plane has some tick boxes where you declare yes/no to such things as ‘carrying guns’, ‘running drugs’ or ‘assassinating the president’, presumably so they can sue you if you do any of these things. I can’t imagine a real gun-runner, drug-dealer or assassin would tick ‘yes’, but my dad’s friend wrote ‘sole purpose of visit’ and of course was immediately deported. It seems customs people do not have a sense of humour  – you have been warned!

I had a call from a fellow professional speaker the other day, asking for advice on the content of her next speech. She had been given a topic by the organisers, knew I was going to be in the audience and – rightly – was checking with a sample of the attendees to find out what they needed to know so she could tailor her content to suit.

I told my caller it was all about objectives. I asked her what she was hoping to get out of the (free) presentation. Her objective was to show the audience what she could do, so they could recommend her in future. So I suggested – as my mentor once Continue Reading →


World’s worst speech

Another day, another networking group launches.

Nice venue. Nice breakfast. But then the regional director stood up and said: “I’m now going to bore you all to death about [Name of organisation] for 10 minutes.”

Oh no! That’s called ‘setting expectations’. He said it twice, and our expectations were well and truly set.

He went on to say: “I’ll try not to muff it…I’m going to sit down because I’m old and decrepit and need to support the weight of my stomach after breakfast.”

Trying to convince us to join: “You don’t have to bounce up and down like some other groups I could mention…This is networking for grown-ups…I don’t like people who think they’re better than anyone else…I’m looking for people to run clubs for me, because I don’t want to do it.”

And later: “I’ll probably cause a mass exodus when I tell you the cost of joining.”

How keen do you suppose his audience was at this point?

When talking about the rules & regulations of membership, he held up a little leaflet, and said: “Most members don’t even bother to read it which is why it’s so small. If you ask our members what the rules and regulations are, they look at you blankly.”

As a membership perk, he proffered a green plastic “leather-look” folder, and warned us that the magnetic button drops off and that we should buy our own Araldite to fix it.

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Spot the difference

Frank Sinatra

Harry Connick Junior

Two handsome singers. ‘So what does this have to do with your Bad Ads blog?’, you may be asking yourself. ‘What does this teach me about UK advertising and marketing?’

Well, I saw the first picture displayed as a poster in a café on Saturday, during the lunchbreak from the London meeting of the Professional Speaking Association. The poster was at the far end of the table, so I couldn’t read the caption, and at first, I thought it showed Harry Connick Junior (I don’t think I’d ever seen a picture of Frank Sinatra looking so young).

But this blog post isn’t about my poor face-recognition, nor Frank Sinatra, nor Harry Connick Junior! It’s about using speaking as a way to promote your expertise (and therefore your business products or services).

So far, I’ve learned that speakers can get paid more than trainers (as you may know, I’m a trainer as well as a copywriter and author). So I may well be spending more time at the PSA and in the café looking at the young Frank in future!

Would becoming a speaker be a useful addition to your marketing mix?