Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Tony Christie Is NOT Dead

"Tony Christie is dead and I think it's in very bad taste to be asking about him" I was surprised to get an email like that in 2003.

After playing a Tony Christie song on BBC Radio Gloucestershire I asked "what's Tony Christie doing these days?" This was long before the reintroduction of Tony on the British audience via Peter Kay and his charity video.

The anger I encountered spurred me on. I knew that if he had died I would have heard about it; so I started doing a bit of research.

I found, after trawling the internet, that Tony wasn't dead he was living in Spain and that he was still popular enough in Germany that he had an agent based there. He'd even released a number of German CDs.

A quick email to his German agent got a response from Tony and I got him on the programme, on the phone from his home and I interviewed him live. He was surprised to find out that he was dead.

A few weeks later I was sent a selection of his German releases, as a thank you for being interested in him.

Lovely, I resurrected a classic star, and got a nice bit of radio out of it.

In 2005 after the huge success of "Is This The Way To Amarillo" Tony was back in the UK, and he was doing a gig near to my patch... So I got him on and interviewed him again.

I always want an interview with an artist to be about them not me, we started looking back over his career and he mentioned that a radio station had once phoned him because they thought that he was dead. I was about to say, "yes I know, that was me" when he went on to say that it was a presenter at GMR in Manchester.... Not Gloucestershire... not even close...

What do you do in that situation?

He told me the whole story of how this great presenter had got in contact and it was very odd because he was working in Germany at the time... I let it slide. I didn't want to be the person who got uppity about being forgotten.

So why talk about it now?

I think that it pinpoints 2 things that you need to be aware of when communicating with anyone, from Media Training to Presentation Training to Crisis Communications... whether you're on BBC Breakfast or in a pitch meeting.

1) People remember what's important to them - To Tony the important bit was someone thought he was dead, the detail of who that was was unimportant. He didn't care it was me, he cared that they thought that he was dead.

2) What is important to you is irrelevant - I wanted to be remembered... it's as simple as that. I wanted to be the person that found out he wasn't dead. Tony Christie didn't care about that, why would he. That was what was important to me, not him. Make your communications relevant, interesting, and important to your audience and they will remember you. It may be easy, it may be about internal change, but even then you may be more interested in the strategic direction of your organisation, your audience cares about their jobs, and if they have to move their desks.

And, by the way, I still like Tony Christie

Thursday, 8 August 2013

Presentation Training - Stinky and Impotent.

I'm a talker. I like to get ideas into the ether, bounce them off other peoples brains, and then modify or cement.

However, I tend to work alone these days, so getting together with my contemporaries always leaves me buzzing with ideas.

Yesterday I had a cuppa with Richard Tierney a fellow Presentation Trainer / Coach. We were talking about the job, this blog, and the challenges of telling someone they need training.

Richard told me that one of his clients described Presentation Training as 'Erectile Dysfunction"; you don't want to admit you have a problem, once you do it's treatable, but you're never going to tell your colleagues that you've had a problem in the first place... you may hand a card to a very good friend and say "go and see my guy, he sorted me".

It's somehow worse than that. I think it's Erectile Dysfunction and Body Odour rolled into one socially unacceptable mess.

How can you tell someone working with you or for you, that they need Presentation Training?

How do you go up to someone who may be oblivious to the problem themselves and say "you need Presentation Training." It's not just telling them that they can't do an element of their jobs, it's far more personal than that. It's telling them that their personality isn't good enough and they are a failure... Not that they need to build skills to match the rest or their highly skilled work... No, they PERSONALLY are a failure.

To you it's a minor change, to them, it's screwing with their image of themselves.

What if they already know that there is a problem?

They know that they smell, they've tried all the usual remedies; self help books, youtube videos, hiding in a cupboard and having a cry, delegating to someone else... and they are now so dissolution that they begrudgingly use PowerPoint as a distraction whilst they talk into their notes.

The presenting has become a self fulfilling prophecy, "I'm bad so my presentations are bad" (repeat to fade).

Offering training is just rubbing salt into their wounds...

Who's fault is this situation?

Some of the problem is the fault of the employer; rather than looking for aptitudes Presenting comes with the role and you just lump it.

Some of it is the fault of the individual; they don't want to admit to a problem.

Some of it is the fault of colleagues; not wanting to say "with training you'd be so much better".

And some of it can be levelled at the wider business community allowing bad presentations to happen without question and then going off to see another bad presentation...

Businesses of Britain, now is the time to be honest with each other, now is the time to be honest with yourself.

If you want your business to grow succeed and flourish, let's stop being so damned 'English' about things and cry out "I have no idea what I'm doing in front of an audience I NEED PRESENTATION TRAINING!!"

Photo Credit: miserablespice via Compfight cc

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Presentation Training - No Slides?

I have a friend who has a problem...

It's not me, and it's not that sort of 'problem'.

She's been asked to present at a popular business breakfast meeting. She's been asked to present for 40 minutes including Q&A. She's been told that there is no room for a screen and therefore there won't be any slides.

No slides...

Many of us who present or train regularly rely on our slides. We only present without slides when the technology fails. My most recent technical failure happened in a board room in Geneva; we had to sort it out with a mixture of hand gestures and Franglais. The French IT guy eventually got it working, but I did have a moment when I thought that the lovely Rolf Kurth and I were going to have to do our 3 hour session without the video clips, audio and headline screens.

We were about to deliver the training to a group of International non-native English speaking Senior Executives.

The thing is, even without the slides, we would have been fine... absolutely fine.

Your brain starts to fixate on the problem, on the unexpected, instead of the knowledge that the slides are the icing on the cake... we still had a bloody good cake (or gateau).

If you're a professional, an expert, a leader in your field, the most important thing in that room is you... not the slide show; it's you and what's inside your head.

     Be aware that they will look at you not your screen
     Monitor your eye contact, you'll have to look at them
     Think about how you're saying it (you can't show them)
     Imagine you're having a conversation with them in the pub; you've just been asked "what do you think"
     Keep it concise, without the visual element more concentration is needed.
     Embrace the Adrenaline, it will make your brain work faster and more efficiently.
     Don't think how much better it is with slides. The audience don't know or care, they want you to be good now!

And if you can't present without slides, your presentation needs to be re-written... you never know when they'll fail.

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