Browse Category: Personal Branding

Personal Branding

Personal Branding: So, You Wanna Play Mr Candidate?

Personal Branding: So, You Wanna Play Mr Candidate?

Personal Branding
Personal Branding; What do people think about you Mr Candidate?

Across England we are in the run up to the 2013 County Council elections. And clients of mine are already campaigning in their #1 chosen division after I helped them successfully prepare for their local association selection interviews, securing their status as an official candidate.

Candidates across the country are getting their literature, websites and content together ready to start canvassing. Great stuff. But so many candidates across the country forget one thing.

What’s your brand? Of course you are adopting the Conservative Party brand, but what is your personal brand? How do you want the public to see you?

Personal Branding For Councillors, MP’s and Candidates

Before knocking or any door, or before hoping to climb the political pole amongst your elected peers you need a brand, you need to stand out for something at least.

Personal branding, to be honest, is no different than product and service branding, except that the entity being branded is you,  Dear Candidate. Just like Nike or BMW uses its brand to attach a certain personality and uniqueness to its trainers and cars, your personal brand is made up of the qualities and unique traits you represent. Your personal brand represents the way other people think about you. They will have a view on you – it is up to you to try and make this as positive as possible. I am not talking about creating a fantasy persona here – I am talking about highlighting your personal stories, your successes, skills and abilities and illustrating your competence and your likdeability.

Personal branding hinges on perception and the stories you tell about yourself: the things you emphasise and want to sell about yourself (which make up why you’re a great candidate) and the things you don’t. Does personal branding involve lying? It shouldn’t. More than that, it shouldn’t have to. You don’t need to be the next Boris Johnson to build an extraordinary personal brand.

Personal branding is kind of like creating a self-portrait or writing a book, or Wiki page all about yourself. So think, before you write your next blog post or In Touch newsletter, what  message are you giving out, boring ‘same-old’ Conservative, or dynamic, trustworthy new blood?

It’s up to you.

Speechwriters’ advice: Do British politicians give too many speeches?

Speechwriters’ advice: Do British politicians give too many speeches? Does anybody listen anymore?

Speechwriters slave away writing speeches every day in Parliament. Are they wasting their time? When was the last time you organised your day around a politicians speech? Maybe out political leaders should make speeches a little less and be heard a little more

Imagine that there are some normal, non-political, non-geeky people who actually take the time out of their busy day to listen to our politicians seemingly daily speeches.

Then, let us push the bounds of credibility even further and imagine that they listen to a whole speech from beginning to end. How much do they remember about what was said?

People’s memories and perceptions of a speech are largely based on how a speech and the speaker made them feel, rather than the words they said, which is surely another argument for giving fewer speeches.

What was the last memorable speech given by any of the Conservative, Labour, Lib Dem and UKIP leaders? What was the last speech the readers of this political magazine listened to in its entirety?


I remember four of Cameron’s speeches. His pre-leadership speech to conference, his speech at the beginning of the coalition – the one in the garden, his speech when he came out for NO2AV and his apology speech for the Bloody Sunday killings.


I can’t remember a Clegg speech. At all. Seriously, I am not being mean, I just can’t.


My only memory of a Miliband speech was the most recent one at the Durham Miners’ Gala where the backdrop and the visual image of the speech was stronger than the content of the speech. I only remember one line from his speech and that was three days ago! Oh, this is unfair, I remember him speaking at the Labour leadership elections.


Farage does his angry, ranty anti-EU speeches which are quite entertaining and jump up and down delivered. But even they are all the same aren’t they?

It is probably safe to assume that these four party leaders have all been talking and giving speeches incessantly before and ever since they became leaders of their parties.

Poor hard working speechwriters write these armies of words every day. Speeches to the party faithful and to their parliamentarians are important. But what about the people who don’t frame their party membership cards and put them on the wall? Never mind the floating voter, what about the normal voter?

I am a weird political geek by most standards – but if I can hardly remember any of their speeches, what chances do the normal real people have?

When doing business in China, the main negotiator talks all the time. But the older guy who says nothing but listens in the background, he is the dude – not the talker. Prime Ministers and Leaders of parties and indeed Ministers are important people, or at least they hold important jobs. Maybe they should talk less. Maybe if they talked less they would be listened to more.

Americans gather around televisions in homes and bars to watch their president give the State of the Union address. Most Brits know exactly who they will be listening to on Christmas Day at 3pm and they factor it into their day, their eating and their drinking schedules.

Serious question: In the UK, when did anyone (apart from political staffers and inhabitants of the Westminster Village) even think of organising their day or their meals around a political speech?

Most leading politicians spend their lives going from venue to venue and giving speeches to members of the public who remember very little of what they say and their security details who can probably recite each word and ‘joke’ off by heart. No wonder the public say politicians are all talk and no action.

The politicians don’t have time to do anything! They are talking all the time.

Perhaps this is the ultimate victory and winning tactic for Sir Humphrey? Keep the meddling Minister out of the office – give them 20 speeches a week to deliver – they will get nothing done and feel important at the same time. Perfect.

By making speeches so often, politicians have cheapened their potential power of their words. The public have switched off and got on with their lives, relying on being told what the leaders of our political parties say by the media and commentators and seeing the odd snippet or soundbite on television.

More precisely, the public are told what the media thought of the speech, their interpretation of its content and their analysis of its delivery. Filtered. (Ed: Delicious irony, here!)

Politicians’ words are heard via someone else’s ears, mixed with their perceptions and prejudices and then regurgitated, recounted, summarised, abbreviated, analysed and commented on in someone else’s wor

Speech writer perspective – The different types of speeches and the characteristics of a good speech

Speech writer perspective – the different types of speeches and the characteristics of a good speech

There are three main ties of speech. Business speeches, political speeches and social speeches.

Professional speeches or Business Speeches include pitches and presentations, AGM speeches to stakeholders, fundraising speeches and select committee interviews and speeches.

Political speeches include getting selected speeches and getting elected speeches, constituency speeches, parliamentary speeches, special interest speeches such as Human Trafficking or Housing, factory or visit speeches and international speeches such as speeches to the United Nations and similar international organisations.

Social speeches are the most obvious – they include best man speeches, wedding speeches, funerals speeches, after dinner speeches, birthday speeches and speeches at your golf, sporting or social club.

Although as a speech writer I have helped thousands of people prepare for most own these types of speeches, my focus has always been on political speeches and business speeches.

But the same principles apply to all the different types of speeches and speechwriting – and so do the 10 elements of MessageCraft.

You can also tell a good speech from some basic key characteristics which I outline for you here.

Characteristics of a good speech:

  • Clearly, confidently and naturally delivered
  • Different and original – this is tricky – copy and paste speeches are just endorsement speeches
  • Delivered well and showing some clarity of thought
  • Made up of short words – and not many of them – long speeches are boring even when delivered by the William Hague’s of this world.
  • Memorable not because of what you say but because of what your speech makes your audience think about and how your speech makes your audience feel.


DIY Speechwriting – Being your own speech writer

DIY Speechwriting – Being your own speech writer

OK so you have to give a speech. This is actually a great opportunity although you may be normal and feel terrified. Whether you are giving a Best Man’s speech, a speech at work or in a social setting at your club or at a family event, your speech will be either good/fantastic, awful or just plain dull. Most speeches people give are dull and awful and forgettable. And too long.

So when I say giving a speech is a great opportunity – it is. Giving a speech is a great opportunity to be fantastic and memorable and spoken about – in a good way – or it is a great opportunity to crash and burn and be memorable and be spoken about. In a not so good way.

So just imagine, you don’t have the time or you don’t want to spend the money on a professional speech writer. Let us also imagine that you have no speechwriting experience – why should you – you probably have a real job!

Here is a short checklist to help you write your own speech which I hope will be helpful.

  1. What are you you doing speaking in the first place? What do you want to transport from your head via your words to their head through their ears?
  2. Who is your audience? What are they expecting? What are they hoping for?
  3. Summarise your speech in a sentence in your head. What is your big idea – the thing you want them to remember tomorrow?  What are two supplementary ideas? They won’t remember more than three anyway so focus on those three.
  4. Get their attention before you give them the meat of the speech.  If you don’t get their attention at the beginning they are not going to suddenly “get into it”.
  5. Speak like a human – use short sentences. And short words.
  6. Be interesting – tell real and personal stories.
  7. Be careful of jokes. Seriously.
  8. End with a “takeaway”.
  9. Be brief – say what you have to say and then shut up and go. Most people speak at 200 words a minute. That is 4000 words for 20 minutes. Seriously – do you have that much to say? 10 minutes is more than enough.
  10. Practice, practice, practice delivering your speech. No one is a born public speaker. Do some work.

Speech writer? Speechwriting – a core skill and resource or an outsourced, peripheral add-on?

Speechwriting – a core skill and resource or an outsourced, peripheral add-on?

What a brilliant video. So many good quotes. This is a MUST SEE for politicos and communications people alike. And for a speech writer (or is that speechwriter?) like me it is a delight.  Idealistic – sure. Shouldn’t we all be?

“…it can’t be a great speech unless it comes from inside…”

“…there has to be trust and understanding…”

“…bloodless, compromising…that’s foreign policy…”

“…a small group of committed citizens can change the world…”

“…great writers steal from other writers…”

Interview preparation and Interview coaching – An Unsolicited email

Interview preparation and Interview coaching – An Unsolicited email

What a great email to receive on a Saturday morning!

“I don’t know if you remember me….you gave me some interview coaching last year for law training contract interviews. I just wanted to let you know that I recently obtained a training contract with X (top 50 full service Law firm) in London and to thank you for all your help and advice last year; it made a huge difference to the way I approached interviews and the whole application process in general. It really gave me the confidence to sell myself and to use my experiences to my advantage. I definitely couldn’t’ve done it without you, I really appreciate all your advice and insight, thank you very much! Hope you’re well.”

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