Browse Category: Getting Selected

Getting selected using storytelling – a 3 minute speech

ID-100113699The 3 Minute Speech

I have been talking to lots of clients recently about 3 minute speeches. Selection speeches for clients wanting to become parliamentary candidates.  The speeches used to be 10 minutes before the 2005 election. Before the 2010 election they were all dropped to 5 minutes. Most associations now ask for 3 minute speeches. Or sneakily they say there will be no speech. Until the hopefuls arrive and the Association Chairman asks them to speak for 3 minutes about why they would be a good candidate. So a 3 minute speech.

Introductions have to be short and grab the audience. Personal stories need to be slimmed down to the essentials. Humour and passion and great delivery are usually mandatory. Beginnings and endings need to be practised. Of course local knowledge needs to be displayed too – without it clunking around as a tick-list.

Crafting a Speech

Churchill famously said something along the lines of being able to give an hour long speech off the cuff, a ten minute speech needing a day’s preparation and a five minute speech needing days of work. If Churchill conceded he needed days for a 5 minute speech – normal people will need more work to craft a winning 3 minute speech.

This 4 minute speech by Mark Bezos shows you how to pause and enjoy rather than rattle, how to smile and engage, how to be self-deprecatingly funny, how to take your job seriously but not yourself and how to use a personal story to make a powerful point. It is brilliant in every way and deserves the standing ovation and the cheers at the end. It is a lesson in storytelling – politicians and business people should watch and learn.

(Praise should also be given to for their collaboration with WordPress making embedding a video easy enough for me to do!)

late candidate selections

Candidate selections 277 seats not yet selected.

Back in March I wrote a blog post called “Candidate selections 290 seats not yet selected”. And now writing this blog, five months later, it appears that only 13 seats more seats have been selected. (I understand that the seat of Darlington is being selected tonight.)

To make any sort of dent candidates surely need 6 months in post. So if the aim is to have all seats worked by a candidate for 6 months there will have to be a minimum of 60-70 candidate selections a month.  That is some pace!

There was once an accepted wisdom that active and focused candidates could negate most of any incumbency advantage – IF selected 2 years before an election. If that is still true I don’t understand why we haven’t selected more seats already. There must be keen candidates and even keener associations? What about building capacity for 2020?

I fully understand the financial and family pressures of a candidate fighting a seat for 24 months before an election and the argument will be that the 40/40 seats selected candidates early for that very reason.  But where is the long term planning?

Have a look at some of the seats that have not been selected yet – they may not be “easy wins” or even “maybe wins” in 2015 – but many are surely seats that should be worked with a view to a decent result in 2020 – or is that too far away?

If you know of any seats that are being selected soon, or have already been selected but are not on the list, please let me know in the comments below.

Update – as of 22/08/14

EastleighMims Davies (31/07/2014)

Bethnal Green and BowMatthew Smith (31/07/2014)

Birmingham EdgbastonLuke Evans (01/08/2014)

Ynys MonMichelle Willis (02/08/2014)

North West DurhamCharlotte Haitham-Taylor (06/08/2014)

North DurhamLaetitia Glossop (06/08/2014)

Kingston upon Hull NorthDehenna Davison (09/08/2014)

Kingston upon Hull EastEmma Ideson (09/08/2014)

Kingston upon Hull West and HessleMike Whitehead (09/08/2014)

Mitcham and MordenPaul Holmes (12/08/2014)

Birmingham Selly OakAlex Avern (13/08/2014)

Bolton North EastJames Daly (13/08/2014)

DarlingtonPeter Cuthbertson (13/08/2014)

Batley and SpenImitaz Ameen (14/08/2014)

Congratulations to all the new candidates and thank you to everyone who helped contribute to the updated list.


Seats Unselected August 2014

Performance Coaching is best one to one and designed for those who hate losing.

Group Coaching

I used to do a lot of group coaching. I do very little now and when I do, I take another coach along to help make the coaching more effective.  The groups I used to coach were typically groups of 12-15 from companies like Grace Chemicals, ThyssenKrupp, BASF and SAP. They were very typical corporate coaching sessions for middle management and the budget for the day was split between all the participants’ personal development budgets. German firms are better at this most – personal development is both encouraged by the companies and sought after by the employees.

Coaching PyramidThen Mercedes hired me to do an 1-2-1 session over ten days with a senior guy on a very sensitive issue and I loved it. More importantly than that – the results were better too.

Norming Training

Group corporate coaching normally is what I call “norming training” – it gets everyone up to a minimum level of competence. Or at least it should! Far too often norming coaching is seen as just something to survive and it is approached by participants and coaches without focus or energy.  Coaching without a specific target is harder to focus and too often includes handouts that soon become, and remain, dusty on unvisited shelves. Tennis coaching is fine and good and important – but preparing for a match against a specific opponent on “that court” is far more fun!

Norming training gets people from the bottom of a pyramid to half way up. It is important but it has its downsides and its limits.

One is the fact that the participants can’t open up completely to the coach with making them themselves vulnerable to the others in the room – who invariably are, will be, or are friends of, current or future competitors in the corporate or political career race.

Secondly – the higher you get up the performance pyramid, the less coaching is about transferring skills and the more it is about what’s in your head. 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.

Performance Coaching

Most of what I do now is performance coaching – in other words coaching aimed at a specific event with a time limit and a specific outcome.* It is taking people who are already quite competent and pushing them up the pyramid – leaving good, and the competition, behind. Coaching people who want to work to step up from being “good enough” and who now want to make Partner, bring in the business and the bonuses and get promoted. Since that session with Mercedes I have worked in the same way in politics, career development and with corporates: –

  • Politics – preparing wannabe MPs for selections and selection speeches, successful MPs for their maiden speeches, campaigns for elections, the No2AV referendum campaign and even the Sri Lankan Prime Minister for an address to the United Nations
  • Career/Personal Development – preparing graduates and senior executives for interviews
  • Corporate – preparing business development, management and MBO teams and individuals for major events, pitches and proposals.

All of them are focused on specific events, with defined time limits or dates and a specific win/lose outcome. It is for those want to perform as well as they possibly can – not just a bit better than the others and who resent being called “good enough”. It is for those who, like me, hate losing or coming second. If you know somebody who might fit into one of those categories – why not forward this post to them and introduce us by email?


*I have also worked on ongoing campaigns, e.g. against Human Trafficking, but there is a difference to this type of campaign – they are drip, drip, drip although they obviously include specific events and critical dates.

The right to be forgotten in business

So you’ve got the new, big, shiny job. You have told your boss where to shove it, booked your last bit of remaining holiday, called in sick once when you weren’t and sat back as you wait to start your new exciting job. Your new employers have said the job is yours, subject to references and checks, but that just means it’s a sure thing, right? I mean – you have an email and everything and you have already spoken to your new boss on the phone about why’s happening on your first day in the office. And the contract is in the post.

ID-100226218However 18 years ago you got arrested,our new employers have found out. Or a speeding ticket or something similar. And your new employers have found out and now you have no job, the job offer is withdrawn and you are literally between jobs – the one you chucked and the one who did some research on you. Or paid someone else to do. The meaning of that sneaky sentence in the job offer email or letter  – “Subject to references and checks” – suddenly becomes ominously clear.

This is a reality for many people.

I recently received some information from the pre-employment screening company Experian – who I had only thought of as a credit ratings agency. Until I read this:

When you are hiring employees, you might need more information on a candidate to make an informed decision. The following list includes the types of information that you may often consult as part of a pre-employment check:
•             Identity Check – Validating an individual’s identity to ensure identity exists and verify it belongs to your candidate.
•             Credit Review – Ensure an individual doesn’t have any adverse financial data on their record, checks include, Electoral Roll, address search, CCJ’s, bankruptcies and voluntary arrangements.
•             Criminal record checks – Ensure that an individual doesn’t have a criminal record.
•             Employment referencing – Verbal or Written Employment History – Referees are first qualified within their organisation in particular to their job title/role and professional relationship to the candidate, Experian Background Checking contacts the referee directly to verify the candidate’s employment.
•             DVLA, FCA, Sanctions, Media & Director searches are also available
Using the Experian Candidate Verifier removes associated risk to brand image via the delivery of accurate data on potential employees.

On the surface you may think as an employer this is a good thing. It probably is good practice to check whether a prospective Company Director or Officer or financial signatory is who they say they are and has no criminal record. The company describes the checks as ‘a first line of defence for your business’s integrity, reputation and security’.

If you use this service, you can assume you can trust a new employee in the full knowledge of knowing everything about them. You can protect yourself, your company, and its image and reputation knowing that your new employee is “clean”. There will be absolutely no surprises ensuring that your new employee does not have a criminal record or chequered history. You can finally be certain that there is no doubt whether your new employee has lied about their education, qualifications, or references. Or at the very least if something does goes wrong with the candidate you can always cover your A*** by showing that you had done your homework and authorised this research. This of course assumes that people who have sinned will always sin again and those with no history will continue to be blameless, but that’s another story – circumstances change, financial pressures grow – the conscientious angel of yesterday may easily become the white collar crook of tomorrow.

Experian ask on their website: How much more could you know about the people you’re recruiting? And to me this is a problem for some candidates.

Experian, for the right price, can find out an individual’s current address, as well as two previous addresses. They can find County Court Judgements, whether you have been declared bankrupt, and any other decrees and administration orders they can find. Fair enough I suppose.

Experian can tell you whether someone has been a director of a company before, whether that company is still going or not and maybe why they left. It can also find out if you have ever been self-employed. Also fair game.

It can check whether a person has ever been involved in money laundering scheme with access to data from the Home Office, the US Secret Service, the Bank of England, the US Treasury and various national and international law enforcement agencies. Scary but also fair research.

They can find out if you have a full driving license, any penalty points, speeding or other driving offences. Experian can find out a complete criminal history, with all conviction information, spent or unspent. As well as any other non-conviction information, ‘considered to be relevant’. This is where I get squeamish. What is “relevant”? What about that stupid thing you did at university? Or the fight outside the nightclub 20 years ago when you were arrested by mistake in the confusion and then released without charge?

Added to that, Experian can also conduct a ‘Media Check’. They are able to research over 45,000 national and international newspapers, from as far back as 1971.

So what does this all mean? Well if you have EVER done anything wrong, whether you were convicted or not, whether you have ever had financial difficulties for whatever reason, if you have ever had speeding points, or if you have ever been once negatively mentioned in a newspaper somewhere in the world in the last forty years, your potential employer can find out.

This can make even the most innocent, harmless, and innocuous person uncomfortable. For a company to be able to amass such huge amounts of information on the people they employ, or are considering employing, is unsettling. The ability for a person to put their past behind them is no longer an option. Some may think this is a good thing, but consider all the falsely accused who are forever associated with something they did not do.

Recently the European Court of Justice set the precedent on a case stating an individual’s right to be forgotten. The case came about when a Spanish man tried to remove an article about an auction for his foreclosed home – however he has already paid the debt and now blames the article for denying him a job. Although the internet giants like Google are unclear on how to interpret the ruling, the concept is interesting.

Obviously suggesting that anyone should have the ability to remove any article about themselves on the internet is ridiculous, but with companies like Experian looking under every rock, one incident can hang over the head of a job candidate forever. Does this mean that only angels can now be considered for senior jobs? Does this exclude the risk takers and the entrepreneurs and those arrested by accident – the people who were either innocent or those who have tried and failed and sometimes fallen on their faces?

Of course I am not suggesting or condoning CV fiction or untrue claims – but this level of scrutiny is now a reality for many.

late candidate selections

Candidate selections 290 seats not yet selected.

It looks like the next 8-9 months won’t be much fun for anyone working in CCHQ candidates department. As far as I can make out, as of today’s date, 290 constituencies still do not have a Conservative Parliamentary Candidate.

I understand from a number of sources that no CSI seats will be selected until after the May elections. This is probably also true for most non-CSI seats although the advert for Erewash has already gone out with the deadline for applications being midday 25th March.

To make any sort of dent candidates surely need 6 months in post. So if the aim is to have all seats worked by a candidate for 6 months and selections are postponed until after the May elections, there will have to be a minimum of 40-50 candidate selections a month from May.

There was once an accepted wisdom that active and focused candidates could negate most of any incumbency advantage – IF selected 2 years before an election. If that remains true we have missed a trick here.

I fully understand the financial and family pressures of a candidate fighting a seat for 24 months before an election and the argument will be that the 40/40 seats selected candidates early for that very reason. (How effective the 40/40 silver bullet will be is another story).

But have a look at some of the seats that have not been selected yet – they may not be “easy wins” or even “maybe wins” in 2015 – but many are surely seats that should be worked with a view to a decent result in 2020 – or is that too far away?

Parliamentary Seats With Conservative PPCs as of 18/03/2014 by Peter Botting

What makes a Political Legacy

I drove to a friend’s funeral in the Midlands yesterday. I have been to a lot of funerals in my life – this was my first to a Labour politician’s funeral. On the way I got a premonition of the size of Lord Bilston’s funeral when I saw the street signs on the dual carriageway to Bilston. The town where he was born, the constituency he represented and the name he carried in the House of Lords. Bilston.

LordBilstonDennis Turner aka Lord Bilston was a Labour Party trade unionist, councillor, MP and Peer who I met and worked with on the NO2AV referendum campaign. The word plotting is overused but he, Lord Bruce Grocott and George Howarth MP and I plotted, schemed and worked together for a solid month – the result being the extraordinary alliance between the Conservative and Labour Parties to defeat the Lib Dems and their proposed Alternative Vote. Without the input of these three men we would never have got Labour’s big beasts (John Prescott, John Reid, Margaret Becket, David Blunkett and Charlie Falconer) on board.

But,  intense and busy as it was, working with these tribal political opponents was great fun. Bruce told me yesterday that he had enjoyed that campaign more than any other and Dennis certainly took great delight in reminiscing about the campaign whenever we saw each other in Strangers Bar. Bruce, George and I were together again yesterday to bury a friend.

The church was packed and the service was long. 1 hour and 20 minutes long. There was standing room only at the back and people waiting patiently outside for the whole 80 minutes. Luckily the sun shone. These were not political people – not duty attendees. We estimated that there were 750-800 people there. It was, inevitably for a man with over 40 years of public service, a political funeral – with some political speeches, a number of Peers, former Cabinet Ministers and Labour MPs attending and therefore missing PMQs. The coffin bearers wore red ties. But – all the speeches were real and personal and I bet they were all written by the people giving them. They were raw – as funeral speeches should be. One of the best stories was how teenage chorister Dennis had led a strike of the choir – timed on a Saturday just before 3 weddings were due to take place.

Two of the speakers mentioned the fact that walking through Bilston with Dennis took ages. Both explained that he literally knew everyone, their names, their kids names and even their dogs names – a plus for a dog lover like me.  But the line that really got me yesterday was “Dennis was one of us”.

Much is made in both the Labour Party and the Conservative Party of candidates being “parachuted” into seats and how this doesn’t go down well with the voters. Research has shown that an ACTIVE candidate can negate an incumbent’s advantage if selected over 2 years before an election and I have candidates like that right now. Much is also made of how Barack Obama beat Mitt Romney 81-19 on the question “Does he understand/get people like me?” But what a great line that “Dennis was one of us” is. What an epitaph. What a summary.

Politics is important business and we need good and competent people in politics. They can’t all come from within their own communities. Or could they? Maybe if they did we would have more politicians getting over 700 local people, non-duty attendees, coming to their funeral. Funeral attendance is clearly not the only test of a political legacy or a sign of whether a politician made an impact on people, in legislation etc – but it is a human one. And politics is at its best when it’s about people.

Picture from

As this article makes clear – I wasn’t the only Conservative there.

New: Free downloadable guides to improve speeches, survive telephone interviews, set goals and more.DOWNLOAD NOW
+ +
Visit Us On TwitterVisit Us On FacebookVisit Us On LinkedinVisit Us On Instagram