In Manchester…

I’m in the United Kingdom today in the lovely town of Manchester speaking at the Don’t Panic Guide to Social Media event.

Looking forward to an interesting conference.

[Of course I’m only posting this as a result of guilt.  I’m talking at a social media conference and I haven’t posted anything since November 19th].

Late: Three inspirational communicators

Back in August, Simon Wakeman tagged me for a meme on my top three inspirational communicators. Due to the vagaries of the new WordPress dashboard (which is sadly appalling at tracking incoming links) I missed it.

So, months late, I’m cheating and here are my thr-our.

Randy Pausch – The late Randy Pausch‘s last lecture was one of the most inspiring pieces of video that I have ever watched.  His delivery, his passion, and his sheer bravery, not to mention an amazing message that applies to everyone, combined to create an inspirational, motivational and thought provoking hour that could and should change your perspective on the daily grind of living. For that alone he makes the list.

Michael Parkinson – While it might strike some as odd to choose a television interviewer as an inspirational communicator, I disagree.  Over a forty year period, Michael Parkinson provided an incredible insight into the personalities of “celebrities” (good and bad) with a manner and approach that made every interview fascinating viewing whether you were interested in the subject or not.  That is an incredible skill and the sign of a great communicator.

Steve & Steve – Small cheat here.

Steve Jobs – There’s no question that in his favourite environment with the black slides, the dark room and the Apple faithful, Steve Jobs is an outstanding and often inspirational communicator who matches well rehearsed timing with great delivery and a sense of theatre. He doesn’t make the list on his own, because sometimes for me it’s a little too controlled. So….

Steve Ballmer – On the other hand, Steve Ballmer doesn’t necessarily evoke the essence of cool, but he brings energy and passion to the stage. Passion is one of those intangible assets that I believe you can’t replicate but from a communications perspective, particularly to an audience, it’s gold dust. Of course Steve’s persona will be forever tied to “that developer video”, but he’s equally compelling talking to smaller groups and for his passion and his energy in communications he makes the list.

Ying and yang perhaps?

I’ll tag Stuart Bruce, Shel Holtz and Kevin Dugan.

Hello World…

I’ve been travelling quite a bit recently (and as many people ask, I’m delighted to report that the Heathrow issue didn’t arise this time around so hopefully that chapter is behind me) and the past week has been a little hectic so I haven’t been keeping on top of my RSS feeds…

Reviewing my feeds today the most interesting thing I noticed was that there was a distinct lack of outrage and hyperbole.  What’s going on? :-)


  • Kevin Dugan argues speed isn’t everything. He’s right.
  • There’s an interesting, post by Jason Baer on research from Sapient on chief marketing officer’s’ wish list for their agencies of the future – nothing terribly unexpected but interesting nonetheless. [Thanks to Andrew B. Smith for the link.]
  • I think if you do any public speaking at all, then you can never read up enough on the subject. Barbara Nixon offers tips for powerful presentation.
  • Shel is unhappy with poor punctuation. (I love Eats, Shoots & Leaves)
  • This Gary Vaynerchuk talk is, eh interesting.  I’d never heard of him before, he paints an interesting, if not terribly appealing picture of building a successful brand online.  One thing I do agree with him about, is the importance of passion – not just online but in every aspect of your professional life.  You can’t fake passion.

Hat tip to Damien.

Public Speaking

I’m sure you’ve seen research that shows that speaking in public is one of the greatest sources of fear for modern man.

For the lucky ones it’s a skill to be learned, for the rest of us it’s something to struggle with.

Of course just because you don’t have Steve Jobs’ public speaking ability, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it.  The reality is that with practice and preparation you’ll be well able to address an audience.

However… you do have to make the effort.

Over the past couple of weeks I’ve attended a range of events and I’ve been amazed how often the “speaker” has stood up, pulled out their speech and just read it, stopping every three sentences to look at the audience, left, then right and then back to reading.

Eh, hello?

To be honest I’d love to stop them and tell them to save us both a lot of time and e-mail us the speech and we can read it ourselves :-) .

I think 99.9% of the population (including me), completely empathises (and suffers) with the fear of public speaking, but if you have to do it, then prepare.

Don’t read to us.

Talk to us.

Tell a story, take us on a journey.

It doesn’t have to be slick, it doesn’t have to have us rolling in the aisles.

But I will tell you this.

Looking the audience in the eye and talking to them, although it may be nerve wracking, is far more compelling than reading to them.

Afraid of forgetting something? Afraid of stumbling or making a mistake?

We’re all human, don’t worry – and believe me, we’ll give you far more attention if you try it.