24 October 2015

Question for Mr Cameron and Ms Sturgeon: why don't the Scots have their own time zone?



Repeat of a post from 24th October 2009:

If you find the darker afternoons that start tomorrow a depressing and pointless exercise, an article in The Times several years ago reported some interesting facts.

Apart from relieving the gloom, not putting the clocks back tonight would reduce electricity consumption by 1-2% and save NHS expenditure on dealing with accidents and emergencies:

“During an experiment 40 years ago, when British Summer Time was used all year for three years, there was an average of 2,500 fewer deaths and serious injuries each year. Opposition from Scotland contributed to the decision to return to putting the clocks back in winter.”

If putting the clocks back is such a big deal for the Scots, why don’t we let them do it on their own, especially now they have their own parliament in Edinburgh?

A different time zone in Scotland might be marginally inconvenient for the rest of us, but no more so than it already is when trying to plan meetings in other EC countries.

12 October 2015

Farewell to Howe and Healey: Tory & Labour Chancellors die in the same week

When I was doing the research that led to my first book on public speaking (Our Masters' Voices,1984) Margaret Thatcher was the leading British politician of the day and provided me with much of the data analysed in the book - for which I was and still am extremely grateful.

Later on, when I was writing speeches for former LibDem leader Paddy Ashdown, she provided much raw material for lines that were more or less guaranteed to get rapturous applause.

But those were only two of my debts to her. Another was that I've often summed up my professional life by saying that it came about as a result of being both a victim and a beneficiaryof Thatcherism.

Victim of Thatcherism
This was because of the appalling damage her governments inflicted on higher education and research in the UK, not to mention what they did to my standard of living or the two years of insecurity that came to a head in 1981 - when her Education Secretary Sir Keith Joseph commissioned Lord Rothschild to investigate my then employer (the Social Science Research Council) with a view to making a case for closing it down.

Luckily, he didn't oblige, concluding that it would be a 'gross act of intellectual vandalism' to do so. The compromise accepted by Thatcher and Joseph was to delete the word 'science' and elevate the importance of their favoured discipline with a new name: the Economic and Social Research Council.

Beneficiary of Thatcherism
A few years later, the benefit from Thatcherism came when Nigel Lawson's budget of 1988 reduced the top rate of income tax to 40%. That was the moment when and the reason why I decided to risk leaving the groves of academia to become a self-employed consultant and author (links to a fuller story of which can be found in the final post of the Claptrap series HERE).

To that extent, I can claim to be living proof that the official economic case for Thatcher-Reagan tax reductions, namely that they would unleash entrepreneurial zeal, worked in at least one case.

The cricketing simile that put an end to her innings
To mark the twentieth anniversary of Margaret Thatcher resignation as prime minister, links to some of my writings about her, both from Our Masters' Voices and this blog, are reproduced below.

I also thought it appropriate to mark the occasion with a clip from the speech that fired the starting gun for what turned out to be a rather quick sprint to the end - coming as it did only 21 days later.

In his speech on resigning as Deputy Prime Minister, Sir Geoffrey Howe, who wasn't renowned as a brilliant speaker, deployed a vivid cricketing simile to describe what it had been like working with Mrs Thatcher.

"It's rather like sending your opening batsmen to the crease, only for them to find, the moment the first balls are bowled, that their bats have been broken before the game by the team captain."

The speech ended with a fairly explicit invitation to other discontented colleagues to stand against her for the leadership:

"The time has come for others to consider their own response to the tragic conflict of loyalties with which I have myself wrestled for perhaps too long."

Three weeks later, she resigned.

There was a rumour at the time that this particular sequence was actually written by Sir Geoffrey Howe's wife - a claim that, so far, I've never managed to verify.

DENIS HEALEY - "Being attacked by Geoffrey Howe is like being savaged by a dead sheep"

Now watch the brilliant documentary by Michael Cockerell which was shown again last week on news of Healey's death at 98 on YouTube  here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gudj2-vSueo

He was one of the last politicians to have done other things before entering politics, had an amazing sense of humour and loads of hobbies unrelated to politics - an ominous reminder to Jeremy Corbyn and his fans, perhaps???

7 October 2015

Lifetime Achievement Award!!!

PRESS RELEASE

Dr Max Atkinson is to be awarded a ‘Lifetime Achievement’ award by the UK Speechwriters’ Guild.

The award is being made for his outstanding contribution to the theory and practice of speechwriting and public speaking over the past 35 years.

Dr Atkinson came to national prominence when he used his academic research into the speaking techniques of top politicians, and applied them to a speech delivered by a novice at a party political conference.

The speaker Ann Brennan went on to win a standing ovation at the SDP conference in Buxton in 1984.

The results were made into a ‘World in Action’ TV documentary, produced by Gus Macdonald, (now Baron Macdonald of Tradeston).

Dr Atkinson published the results of his research in a book called Our Masters’ Voices.

He also had a chance to put his theories to the test by offering speechwriting support to Paddy Ashdown, who became leader of the Liberal Democrats in 1989.

In 2004, Dr Atkinson published his book Lend Me Your Ears, which explains the techniques in simple terms to any layman who might wish to adopt them.

Founder of the UK Speechwriters’ Guild, Brian Jenner, said, ‘Using recording technology which was new at the time, Dr Max Atkinson discovered the ‘claptrap’ – the means by which speakers can provoke positive responses from audiences. He has championed ‘the language of public speaking’ which most people can master. We want to acknowledge the huge value of the research Max did.’

Dr Atkinson will be presented with his award at a reception at St Matthew’s Conference Centre, 20 Great Peter Street, London on Wednesday 25 November from 6.30pm. Press passes are available on application to info@ukspeechwritersguild.co.uk

 

--
Brian Jenner
Winner of the Vital Speeches of the Day Cicero Speechwriting Award 2010http://www.thespeechwriter.co.uk
+44 (0)7545 232980

@beachwordsmith

6 October 2015

Corporate Speaking Challenge 2015


Corporate Speaking Challenge 2015

‘Everything needs to change, so that everything can stay the same.’
(Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa)
This year’s Corporate Speaking Challenge gained its influence from Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa, an Italian writer, who was known for his only novel Il Gattopardo, translated as The Leopard.
Now in its 6th year, the College of Public Speaking Corporate Speaking Challenge is an innovative public speaking competition designed to promote and encourage communication excellence in the business world. Bringing together some of the best speakers across the country, the Corporate Speaking Challenge is designed to showcase a high standard of public speaking, an exciting event that enables speakers to demonstrate their public speaking talents.
The public speaking competition is a marvellous opportunity for individuals to develop themselves in a friendly, supportive and pressurized environment; it’s a development opportunity for both contestants and companies alike.

Heats

LocationDateTime
Mintel Group Ltd
11 Pilgrim Street
London
EC4V 6RN
20th & 27th October 20156.30pm

Final

LocationDateTime
Ascham Suite
Bloomsbury House
Holborn
WC1A 2RL
17th November 20157-9.30pm

What is the Judging Panel Looking for?

The judges are looking for confidence and credibility as a speaker, clarity in the message, clearstructure and engaging content.
  • Judges will look at the expression and delivery of the speech so ensure the speech has a clear purpose – persuade, inform, inspire and entertain.
  • First impressions are important, the audience and judging panel will be at their most attentive at the beginning of the speech, so ensure you grab their attention from the start, similar emphasis should also be put on the conclusion of the speech, linking back to the opening of the speech.
  • Your verbal skills are paramount, speak clearly, slowly and loudly, ensure the audience and judging panel can hear every single word, vary your pitch and tone of voice to keep the audience and judging panel alert.
  • Nonverbal skills are also important.  Be conscious of your body language and (purposely) only use gestures that support and enhance your speech.
  • Confidence and style are at the core of effective expression and delivery, and vital in any professional context so try to project this during your speech.
The judges are looking for a strong message combined with excellent delivery skills. Please - no acting, performing, magic tricks or monologues. Please ensure that your content and delivery would be appropriate for a boardroom style meeting. Please ensure that the majority of the speech is original.
For more guidance on public speaking read our public speaking tips here.

Winners

First place winner will be awarded with a £100 Amazon voucher, a framed certificate and a Corporate Speaking Challenge trophy to retain for a year. 2nd place will be awarded with a £50 Amazon voucher and third place will be awarded with a £25 Amazon voucher.

Registration

Registrations are now closed for the Corporate Speaking Challenge.

Recommended workshops

If you would like to improve your public speaking skills we have a variety of workshops to help you prepare for the Corporate Speaking Challenge.
Our fear of public course includes interactive exercises and confidence building activities. The course will identify the issues around fear and public speaking and face each of these with questions, identifying their cause and where possible eradicating them. The aim is to reframe your issues of loss of confidence, anxiety and fear.
Our advanced public speaking course is ideal for those that already have an acceptable level of public speaking ability but are looking to build upon this and improve their communication skills. The course is primarily focused on the structure of giving a speech, enthusiasm, influence and persuasion, creating a rapport with an audience and developing a deeper grasp of rhetorical impact.
Our storytelling workshop is designed for those looking to discover where to find the perfect story to reinforce your key messages. The course will examine how stories, pictures and metaphors work and why they work, examining when to use them and who they appeal to. The course will provide you with expert story telling techniques alongside overcoming public speaking issues and concerns.