For many people, public speaking is not easy. For some people, it is simply terrifying. Speaking in front a large crowd, particularly of your peers, has been likened to the trauma of buying a house, going through a divorce or going to the dentist. Of course, it is far worse when your career depends on it and the stakes are high.
A Guest Post by Danny Bowman who is interning for Peter Botting.
This week in Birmingham was my second Conservative Party conference and the last conference before the General Election in 2015.
We arrived on the Saturday – Sam, myself and Peter. We joined the councillors and activists, the blue rinse brigade, the ambitious/naive/thirsty CF’ers, the lobbyists, charities, businesses and the media. The Hyatt was busy from the first night with old friends meeting up, everyone offering their shiny new business cards (I did that a lot too!) and most people enjoying a good drink. Or two. 🙂
The first day saw the annual “Hate the Torys” march – happily I didn’t hear of any violence this year. We didn’t get in the hall as Peter was focusing on the fringe events and it was my job to get him from one event to the next – which was not always easy as he keeps meeting people and I have to chase him to keep to his schedule.
Mark Reckless’s defection actually invigorated the conference and the mood seemed very buoyant from day one – and then improved. Dunkirk spirit etc.
Then saw the start of the real action with major speeches from all the Ministers. Theresa May, George Osborne, William Hague (his last speech to conference) and David Cameron were always going to be the big ticket speeches for conference. And they were all top quality. Theresa and George were serious people giving serious speeches about serious jobs. Boris was very funny and very cheeky – teasing both Theresa May and David Cameron. William Hague was classic William Hague – funny, self-deprecating and grown up. David Cameron gave the best speech he has ever given – most notable about his speech though was the huge difference between him and Ed Miliband. One is Prime Minister material – one is not. In fact, if Miliband was a Conservative it is doubtful that he would even be a PPS.
The final day saw David Cameron’s speech started with referencing the successful Scottish referendum then moved onto a fierce warning to British citizens fighting for Isis/ISIL as being “enemies of the UK”. He teased and praised William Hague, showed real anger about Labour’s attacks on his attitude to the NHS and outlined a series of significant tax cuts for people earning less than £50 000 including no income tax for people earning the minimum wage.
This was my second conference. I was working instead of playing. I drank less and listened more. This conference was very different to last year. People were much more accepting of mental health and accepting of me. In fact, for many of the people I spoke to, mental health seemed an absolutely normal and non-stigma issue to talk about.
We managed to find time to go for a curry – at Sam’s insistence. It was the best curry I have ever had. I asked for the mildest curry while Peter and Sam tried out something much hotter! Even Sam rated his curry as the tie-first place curry he has ever had and he is quite fussy and critical about food!
City A.M. articles for this week.
I’m really enjoying writing for City A.M. each week, I hope you are enjoying reading my articles as much as I enjoy writing them. Here are the articles I published this week, be sure to check out what I published last week in City A.M..
Here are my articles published in City A.M. this week:
Are you bored at work? Passed over for that promotion? Find yourself procrastinating or spending time surfing the net to make up office face time? Feel like you’re not getting anywhere? Then you may be suffering from stalled career syndrome.
Want to annoy your boss? Why wouldn’t you? By simply and consistently annoying your boss you could leave those boring office days behind, forget the early mornings and that rubbish, crowded commute and spend the rest of your days at home in your underwear watching daytime TV. Whoop whoop.
This is a guest blog from a friend and a client, speaker coach Denise Graveline – It was emotional for me to read. To say the least.
When I shared the news with my clients and readers that I, a speaker coach, had hired Peter Botting, also a speaker coach, to get ready for chairing a conference, I got some pushback from the curious. “Why would you do that?” they wondered. The implication was that I’d somehow admitted I wasn’t as good as I make myself out to be. After all, I’ve been coaching speakers for nearly 30 years, at first within large nonprofit organizations and the U.S. federal government as a senior official in the Clinton Administration, then for the past 10 years in my own consultancy. I’ve put speakers in front of the U.S. Congress, on the TEDMED stage and on TED.com, and on national television. And I’ve done the same myself, delivering industry keynote speeches, testifying before Congress, speaking in the British Parliament.
One might consider me, after all that time, to be an expert without having to stretch the truth. A seasoned speaker, certainly.
Of course, Peter had the right comeback for me: “It’s a poor chef who fails to keep her knives sharp,” he said, dismissing the critics and wonderers. I didn’t want to stretch the truth. I just wanted to stretch myself.
A trainer who seeks no training after she hits ‘expert’ status is just sharing the expertise of long ago, over and over again. I wanted to set the bar higher for myself. Peter struck me as a professional’s professional, someone who could add value to the skills I already bring to the task. He agreed that I should push beyond rote and strive for exceptional.Then I got what I asked for, and I clutched….Despite knowing better, I acted as any speaker might when pushed. It’s been a while since this shoe was on the other foot, and you’ll be relieved to hear that I’m just like anyone else on this score.
My coach listened, advised, nudged, and teased out the needed results. “I want to stretch you. Quality needs to be pushed,” he’d say, reminding me that “good enough seldom is,” a challenge to the ambitious lion if ever there were one…I knew without question that I’d picked the right coach. He was doing just what I’d asked him to do, and my feeling turned inside-out was something I could control. I went back to responding, rather than reacting, to the challenges. I decided to say “yes” to my coach, and even better, “got to yes” with myself. Instead of running from the power, I ran toward it. At one critical point, my coach reminded me that “turning yourself inside out is a bit like spring cleaning–you find old treasures and assets almost forgotten.” I’d been in search of grace notes and mindset and themes when I decided to seek coaching, and I found them…..
In Washington, you can’t throw a rock without hitting a speaker coach or media trainer. I’ve hired or worked with many of them, and have heard them say the same things over and over again. It’s a cookie-cutter, off-the-shelf, robotic method of coaching. Peter takes a personalized approach, uncomfortable yet powerful precisely because it focuses on you as a unique speaker. Far from merely spouting tips and advice, Peter listens and reads with care, catching nuances and seeing gaps I miss. His ear is especially sensitive to what an international audience will hear, a real advantage as I head into this global conference. But it’s also good at catching woolly thinking and flabby language.
He’s also good at pushing and insisting you do better, saying, “Good coaching can change my clients’ careers, their reputations, their income and their lives. So I apologise for not apologising to my clients if I am sometimes tough with them.” Peter’s seismic approach to speaker coaching can make you feel as if there’s earth moving under that once-stable place you were standing. You can view that as a danger, something outside your control, and run away from it. Or you can view it as the early rumblings of your own power as a speaker, and run toward it.
You, too, may be an experienced speaker with a big speech or speaking task coming up. Perhaps you’ve just been elected an officer of your professional society, or started a new management role, one that requires presentations to the board of directors or to external audiences. You might, after speaking in smaller halls, be about to give that TEDx speech you’ve always dreamed of doing, or be tackling an important keynote or AGM speech. Your friends and colleagues will tell you this is a sign of your expertise, and it is. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t use some coaching right about now. Peter makes the case for 1:1 coaching to improve your performance and notes something he learned as a tennis coach from a pro:
Ian Barclay coached me in Johannesburg. He was Pat Cash’s coach and I was a young, ambitious tennis coach totally focused on learning all his best coaching techniques and skills. He said that teaching beginners, like he taught Cash initially, was all about skills and just 5% about what’s in your head. By the time Cash was playing serious professional tennis, the ratios had reversed and it was now at least 95% head and the rest skills. If you are helping people with what’s in their head – it’s personal. Huge trust is needed and that’s best done very carefully and sensitively without others listening in.
Peter says 1:1 coaching is for people who want to win.That’s the kind of coaching I chose to keep my speaking knives sharp. Here’s how I did at the task for which I was coached, chairing an international conference of speechwriters in Brussels last year. What will you use your coaching with Peter to advance?
Graduate jobs are scarce and there are more graduates than ever before. So thousands complain about not being able to find a job and some blame their unemployment on the shortage of jobs. This guy didn’t moan. He dressed up. Wrote a marketing message. Got up early. And stood where employers would flock past in droves.
The person who tweeted the picture said “Saw this guy at Waterloo getting approached by loads of businessmen. Hope he gets a great job.” I do too! He has attitude – the good type.
Rob Halfon MP was born with a moderate version of spastic diplegia, a form of cerebral palsy, and underwent several major operations as a child, causing osteoarthritis in his early thirties. He isn’t great at walking. Which is pretty rubbish if you are campaigning to become an MP in the UK where door knocking and shaking hands and meeting people is required and expected. So Rob drove every morning to a busy road in his constituency. He stood with his two crutches and held a sign that said Vote Conservative. Every day. In all weathers from 07:00 to 09:00 and again from 16:30 to 19:00.
The first few days he got abuse from cars driving by. Including a van with 3 guys in it who threw a water bomb at him and waved a giant inflatable “Up Yours” sign at him.
After a couple of weeks some people started hooting at him and waving. He kept standing there every day. He was starting to feel a bit more positive. Then, during Week 5, the white water-bomb van with the three guys in it screeched to a halt in front of him and a big burly tattooed guy jumped out and ran over to him. Rob really didn’t know what to expect. The guy shook his hand and confessed to having been one of the guys who had hurled abuse, and a water bomb, at him in the first week that he stood by the side of the road. He said “I am sorry. If you want to be my MP that much and you are willing to stand there every day you must be alright. You have my vote mate – good on you!” Then he shook his hand, jumped back in his van and raced off to work. Rob won the election. He also intends to do exactly the same in the next election. And the one after that. He has the right attitude too.
My mother was incredibly supportive but she pushed me hard. At my studies and in my sport. I wasn’t a natural sportsman. I was a chubby kid at junior school and was bullied a lot. But I lived in a country where rugby was a religion and I lived for rugby at high school. But that wasn’t enough. All the other kids were faster and stronger than me. I had a brilliant coach called Bro Pritchard who pushed and encouraged us all. Like my mother he said “heart matters”. I started to run. I ran every day. I had to – just to be considered for the rugby team. I had to work at it to get fit and to stay fit. Even during the off-season I had to do serious laps and cross country runs while the skinny, fit cool kids were eating ice creams and burgers and mucking about. I did it because I wanted it. By the time I was 18, I was Captain of my Schools First XV and played for the provincial U20’s rugby and had played 3rds for a men’s club at the age of 17. I was part of the rugby world and played and practised with provincial and national players including my Club Captain John Morgan who played for Wales B at the same time as J.P.R. Williams. All that lonely running was worth it.
My father was Managing Partner of Ernest and Young in Zimbabwe. He said that he hired people based on how much they wanted that job with his company. Not any job or any company – his company.
Morals of this blogpost.
- If you want to hunt ducks – go where the ducks are.
- Be different – do what other people don’t do and can’t be bothered to do.
- Show you give a damn and you have a positive, can-do attitude and you will stand out!
I am delighted to be writing for City A.M. again. Here are the first three articles I have done for them this year.
Interviewers like consistency, they enjoy being able to judge each candidate by a set benchmark. This is why the same interview questions come up time and time again.
Ok. You want a raise. Who doesn’t? But you are different. Obviously. You deserve it. Your friends and family have told you that you do for all the hours and effort you have been putting in.
This is your chance to demonstrate that you have thought and processed what has been discussed, to show that you have done your research and to demonstrate your determination and interest in the position.