Blog

Find your voice – and make it sing

Recently I had the privilege of media training an eminent professor who had spearheaded the clinical trial of a promising and much-needed new drug. The Prof was easily on top of his game in terms of his messaging. He had an impressive grasp of the scale and the impact of the conditions the drug was […]

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Presentations: never save the best for last

Working with a client recently on an important presentation he was preparing for internal stakeholders, I was astonished when a ‘big reveal’ about a notable past achievement came in the final minute of a fairly unremarkable pitch. Once I pointed out the much greater impact he could achieve by reversing the order and using the […]

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Five ways for experts to fight fake news

The latest scary statistics about the resurgence of the measles virus, due – at least in high-income countries – to vaccine refusal, highlights the various ‘cognitive biases’ that lead people to base their decision-making on unfounded fears and beliefs rather than top-level scientific evidence. They act as a timely reminder that it takes a lot […]

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The ‘5S’ plan for powerful, persuasive key messages

The sharpest tool in my communication skills training box is a message development exercise I call ‘Answers First’. It is a tightly focused exercise, which I use to prepare company spokespeople for a specific meeting, negotiating session, presentation or interview. It involves identifying, honing and prioritising a brief series of key messages, each supported by […]

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Is there a real role for ‘uptalk’?

One of the commonest verbal irritants I encounter in my communication skills training courses is ‘uptalk’ – a rising inflection at the end of sentences that makes statements sound like questions. I observe this speech pattern most commonly among younger women, and I invariably urge them to try to change a habit that makes them […]

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8 presentation hacks for holding attention

Presenting is a difficult business and presenters face numerous challenges if they are to be engaging, memorable and influential – the three key objectives of presentations. Of these challenges, none is more critical – or more tricky – than holding the attention of the audience. If you Google ‘audience attention span’, you will find endless […]

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End every presentation with a call to action

In my last blog I talked about the importance of making a powerful first impression when you present to an audience. But endings are just as important as beginnings, and the professionals I coach seem to find them just as challenging. Typically, they get to the end of their slide deck, summarise the data (although […]

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Five verbal habits that irritate the hell out of your listeners

When it comes to communicating effectively in media interviews and at meetings we are often our worst enemies. A potentially cogent and powerful argument is undermined by pointless, repetitive and largely unconscious verbal habits that irritate the hell out of our listeners and work against impactful communication. Here are five of the worst offences: Starting […]

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