Browse Category: Personal Branding


Boris backs Vote Leave

Boris says OUT

London Mayor Boris Johnson joined Vote Leave and the OUT campaign today. Often foolishly written off as a blond airhead, this statement has depth and thought. I am not in a position to call anything or anybody intellectual – but this piece contains more intellect in the first paragraph than the all the US Republican Presidential candidate debates so far!

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Debate Prep for the Leaders Debate

Leaders Debate

At last the Great Debate or the Great Bore-a-thon is with us. Guy Bentley has a useful rundown in City AM on the format and the logistics for the night, who stands where, who speaks first etc.

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Peter Botting on The Daily Politics

Daily Politics Appearance

Last Friday I was contacted by the Daily Politics team who had read my blog posts on the 5 worst and 5 best US political adverts. They seemed to like what I had written and invited me on to the Daily politics show on Monday to talk about them. Sam and I arrived at the BBC at 11:45 and were ushered into the green room. Sam was given a tour of the Daily Politics set and I sat waiting in the green room. It was exciting to be there. I knew what I wanted to say and to be honest I had an easy gig ahead of me as there were no tough questions coming my way as my 4-5 minutes was more of an amusing filler than main stream news and I didn’t have positions to defend – apart from my views on the videos.

Paul Uppal, Julian Huppert and Lisa Nandy were the guests for they day and Alan Milburn was a guest. Eventually I was called into the studio around 12:50 and say in a corner watching the 4 camera crew and the the rest of crew quietly and calmly do their thing. Then I was miked up and told to follow the chair. Then the videos were played – I was greeted by Jo Coburn who was lovely and then the questions a started. It was a fun discussion and I managed to to get Jo and her 3 guests agreeing with me!

Thanks to the Daily Politics team from Robbie Gibb to Jo and all the others who were so cool and friendly to us!

Have a look and tell me what you think!


Me and my Boss – by Danny Bowman

Job hunting with a mental health issue is not easy. Either you don’t even get an interview or the employer gets cold feet during the interview. Should you even say that you have had mental health issues?

The dreams of anyone suffering from a mental health problem is to start living a fulfilling life. For me I saw a fulfilling life as helping others and working hard even if it’s a internship.

I always has aspirations of working in politics or strategy and that ambition came true thanks to many people but one man especially, that is the guy I call boss now. Peter Botting gave me one of the biggest opportunities if not the greatest I have had. He gave me the chance to intern and work as his PA.

His absolute care and compassion for what I had been through didn’t make him dither on his decision but made him want to give me a opportunity, that many people with his reputation would not have done. One think that struck me about him is the lack of thinking he had to do and his open attitude about talking about such a stigmatised issue.

Last week we both attended Conservative Party conference but for me this year it was different, I was no longer freely drinking every alcoholic beverage I could have. It was to work hard as a test run for Peter, the political strategist that didn’t care about my past – only my future. I wrote about the conference here. 

I ran his diary and he described me as being like a drill sergeant and for the first time ever, he attended 11 out of 13 scheduled events on the first day.

We disagree and talk openly with non-edited language. But that is helpful and healthy. This man gave me an opportunity – he is not just “boss” but a great friend, a compassionate political man, a man of his word. I know he took a risk hiring me. I want to prove him right.


Peter and Danny2.

Me and Peter at work at Conservative Party Conference.

In Front Of The Camera


Monday was unusual. Even by the random standards of my life. It was film day. For me. I was going in front of the camera. Usually I prepare other people to go in front of the camera or on stage. I am the backroom guy – the guy in the green room giving advice, holding your hand, cheering you on. But not Monday. I have been told repeatedly that my website needs a video. Of me. That I am the product, the service, the package. The coach. So prospective clients need to see me and hear me. So today was filming of me.

I am the speaker coach – so this better be good! Scripts were written, rewritten, edited, shared, collaborated on. I think the final doc was called Script Final 9 or Script Final final final 5. Then I set a deadline, a date and we were off to London. I cancelled. Or postponed. That was last week and I was just back from the US, I had loads to do and my head wasn’t there. Plus I hadn’t learned my lines. The film guy understood. He said.

So this Monday dawned. The team of 5 assembled in Canada Water near the Hilton on the Thames walkway. We were south of the river with Canary Wharf as the backdrop. The weather was perfect. The film crew of two were cheery. Sam and Danny work for me and were excited to be out of the office and doing something different.

I still hadn’t learned my lines.

The film guy said he had every confidence in me. I hoped he was better with his camera than he was at deceit.

I was “miked up”, the lighting was checked, the serious professional camera sat on a huge tripod, a light panel explored every wrinkle on my face. I tried to remember my advice to my clients on how to keep calm.  My young team were reassuring even if some of their jokes were off-colour! The film crew reassured with their words but I was sure they were thinking “Another wally who hasn’t learned his lines!”

We were ready. Or at least everyone else was. The “talent” wasn’t. Not a word came to me. Blank. Totally. Nothing. Nada.

Sam read out the script I was supposed to have learnt. That I had spent 3 hours learning over the weekend. The script that I had written and approved. That we had agreed and shared with the film team. I hated it. Too clunky, too braggy, too long. Not. Fluent. At. All.

Eyes furtively rolled. My team smiled encouragingly willing me me to win. I cursed myself.

The film guy’s assistant interrupted. She hadn’t been part of the pre-briefing. She asked me what I did. I told her. She said – “Say that – talk like you have just spoken to me.” Which is the sort of thing I say. But I needed someone else to say it to me.

I pulled myself together. I instructed Sam to make sure that all the key components of the script were covered. He was anointed Chief Prompter for the day. This meant he read out what needed to be covered – I made a mental note of the essential points, shut my eyes like a diva, assembled my thoughts, mentally walked through what I was going to say, then said “Am ready”. And the film crew sprang into action – or at least pushed the button.

Theory. Of course the film crew wasn’t always ready just because I was. Background noise interrupts (i.e. stops) filming and there were planes and boats and cyclists and waves and even helicopters all joining in and laughing at me. So it took a little longer than it should have. Double the time at least. But in the end I was happy with the words and it was nearly a minute shorter. Everyone else was smiling too. We hadn’t moved on from a clip until all 4 of my “audience” were happy.

Midday isn’t great for filming apparently (says the thirsty film guy!) because of the light. So we went for lunch. In a pub – I think the crew deserved and needed that.The film guy seemed much happier after that!

After lunch we went to Westminster, again south of the river, by Lambeth Palace. This was shorter – we didn’t need to film so much and I had learnt my lines by now. And the next day we did some close up work shots on my desk at home. The film will be coming out soon – hopefully this weekend. Danny found some music for it. Graeme, the film guy, has edited out my stumbles and gaffes.

Film is powerful. But it has to be done well. 2 minutes clips are part of the internet culture – but they take ages to make in preparation, production and post-production. The investment is significant – but the end product is well worth having. Or at least I think so. When I publish the video you can decide for yourself.

Lessons and tips about filming promotional video

  1. you must know what you HAVE to say
  2. preparation and preparation time are mega-important – they are part of the investment you make
  3. get a film crew you like and who can work with and who will put up with you
  4. it takes longer than you think on the day
  5. it takes much longer than you think in preparation
  6. post-production is seriously important – be nice to the editor!
  7. working with, listening to and getting feedback from professionals is mandatory
  8. getting feedback from those who know you well, and care about you, is important too  – it keeps you real




Best Man Speech

Best Man Speech

Normally I craft words that other people speak or print. Recently, I have started speaking more frequently myself and a long time ago I was in the National Public Speaking Senior School finals and I have years of experience as a public speaking coach training other people to communicate, present and speak.  But it is very seldom MY gig.Best Man Speech

But this week I am on the spot. I have an unmissable deadline. I have a speech to write and finish. And I have to deliver it. And it needs to be good. At the very least.

For some strange reason Matthew Elliott of TPA, No2AV and Business for Britain fame asked me to be his Best Man. So here I am in The United Club Lounge in Heathrow Terminal 2, en route to Washington, thinking I had better focus on the plane and get this thing done.  After all, as Matthew’s brother John unhelpfully pointed out: “If you were a carpenter and gave a crap speech it would be ok. But you aren’t!” This hasn’t been helped by “friends” like John O’Connell who is a Director at the TPA and one of the few totally likeable people in Westminster, until now, that is. Who said: “Congratulations on being Best Man. Speech better be good!”

Plus the the venue is Mount Vernon. George Washington’s family estate. No pressure.

It is a huge honour to be chosen as Best Man. The speech is officially to the whole crowd but actually the only audience I care about is Sarah and Matthew.

But I would be lying if I wasn’t viewing this speech with some trepidation. The prospect of giving this speech has hung over me for months.  I guess that’s because it’s important to me. I can stand up and give an unimportant speech now.  I can give speeches about things I know and believe in with a few minutes notice. But a Best Man’s speech is expected to be funny, personal and emotional. Authentic and all that. Plus the audience is full of people who speak far more often than I do.

But the speech is not about me. Not about impressing anyone. Not about anything or anyone except Matthew and Sarah. Saying the things he secretly would like me to say and avoiding ALL the things she has forbidden me from saying. There is a balancing act for you, if ever there was one!

Luckily, I am staying in Washington with my friend and colleague, speaker coach Denise Graveline, who will be critiquing my content and delivery. Once I finish writing the damn thing! I would love to say that if my speech bombs, it is her fault. But the truth is, when you stand up and give a speech you are alone. Your credit or your shame.  These things can’t be delegated. I am glad I have a speaker coach though! 🙂

The importance of the handshake

ID-10062570Nixon and Mao. Reagan and Gorbachev. De Klerk and Mandela. Rabin and Arafat. The importance of the handshake should not be overlooked. Throughout history the handshake has been used as a powerful symbol for peace. From originally showing that you come in peace and are unarmed (at least in that hand!) to today where it is the ultimate photoshot – used again and again to suggest a new era, a new political order or alliance and a way of reconciling from the past. It can show that two countries or two groups that have previously had no contact, through an action of physical contact, now have a new symbolic relationship.

In the increasingly digital world we live in, the handshake is still seen as a significant symbol in politics, diplomacy, and even business. In business deals and meetings shaking hands play a key role. A study by the National Centre for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) found that a firm handshake can portray a sense of emotional expressiveness, openness, and confidence.

A survey conducted by the American Psychological Association recorded that there was a positive link between a firm handshake and being hired at a job interview. The stronger and more confident the handshake, the better the impression.

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) found that witnessing two other people shake hands triggers positive emotions. So even watching other people shake hands makes us feel rewarded.

Therefore a simple handshake can be a powerful symbol of peace, make us more employable and allows us to feel more rewarded and satisfied. Never underestimate the power of a handshake.

How to shake hands well

  1. Smile and look in the other person’s eyes. Eye contact and hand contact belong together. In fact eye contact comes first – otherwise you may find yourself offering your hand and it being spurned.
  2. Go in thumbs up and palm open (obviously – duh).
  3. Dont jerk your arm up and down (not back and forth) – slow and normal does it. Otherwise you will appear drunk, overexcited or juvenile. Or all three.
  4. Don’t have sweaty, moist palms – if your palms sweat buy a hankie or tissues. Otherwise you will be remembered for being the person to avoid – the one that made them wipe their hand dry on their shirt! This rule doesn’t apply after tennis or rugby.
  5. A firm handshake is good, a limp handshake is terrible. When I say firm I do not mean cutting off their blood supply to their fingers.
  6. Keep your hand straight – otherwise you may appear to be dominant or submissive.
  7. 2-4 seconds should do it. More than 5/6 seconds and you are being creepy and hitting on them! Adjust to them and be sensitive to them.
  8. Talk to the person you are meeting – if you already know them, use their name and greet them as if you mean it.
  9. Don’t whip your hand away as if you had just found our that they had an evil, mutating disease. Slow and natural.

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