It’s launch day

We are delighted to announce the launch of our new, improved Social Media Platforms.
There's so much to come on social from Speak the Speech in 2016....
- information about new projects we’re working on
- regular “hints and tips”, helpful blogs and videos
- access to the brilliant Speak The Speech training videos
- AND we'll keep you up-to-date with the Speak The Speech team as it grows with new team members bringing new areas of expertise
ALSO with social we’ll strengthen our communication channels with you after you’ve attended a Speak The Speech training programme because we want you to become more involved with Speak The Speech.
So don't wait!
Comment, write reviews, tell us your experiences on workshops... anything you like really (within reason obviously!). With your input we’ll be able to develop our offerings from your perspective and keep you up-to-date with what we’re up to much more easily in the future.
And last but by no means least!!
Prepare yourself for our first blog at 17.00 hrs – “The Ghost of Speak The Speech” – from co-founder and all round nice chap, Jon Bacon.
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It’s not what you say but how you say it … or is it?

Mummy Malaprop?
Whenever I think about my Mum, I automatically smile. I’m grinning as I write this. Why? Well, 1) she was a thoroughly lovely lady and 2) she could be (usually unintentionally) very funny.
You see, my Mum was a ‘word muddler’ and this sometimes resulted in rather amusing conversations.
Take for the example, the day she solemnly told me that she’d been to a ‘humourist’ funeral. “… I think you mean ‘humanist’, Mum …” “… do I? Well, whatever – it was lovely. {Pause}. So, these ‘humourist’ funerals – what are they like …?”
And then there was the time I ‘phoned her to find out how Dad had got on at his ‘Well Man Clinic’ appointment. “… oh, he’s fine ...” she announced gaily. “… just waiting for his lobotomy …”
“… really, Mum? That seems a bit harsh. It was just a check-up after all …” “… oh, they did the test there and then, and that’s why we’re waiting on the lobotomy …”
Have you got it, dear reader? It took me a while. That’s right – the check-up had included a blood test and they were awaiting the results from the phlebotomy department!
But the best muddle ever has to be the following.
Near Disaster
Picture the scene if you will. We’re in a small ‘Tea Room’ in Ramsgate. Dad’s deaf, so Mum is used to speaking loudly. Mum’s reminiscing about a distant relative – a second cousin five times removed on her Grandmother’s sister’s side or some such. Anyway, she leans forward and says to me – somewhat gravely “… of course, he was a necrophiliac you know …”
(WHOOOOOOOOOOAAAAA! Back up there, Mother! WHAT?!) … used to really annoy his wife … (TRULY? No kidding!) … he often did it while he was smoking … (Ah, well. Now I understand. Smoking. Filthy habit!) … he used to scorch the carpet …
He was a narcoleptic, dear reader. He suffered with narcolepsy! Classic!
Anyway, Mum’s muddles got me thinking about language and how important it is to get it right.
It IS what you say
Many of you are probably familiar with Professor Albert Mehrabian and his oft misrepresented ‘Communications Model’ (I won’t go into the ‘misquotes’ here!). His model illustrates that it’s not just the words that we speak that convey a message. At Speak The Speech we regularly refer to, and work with, the power of non-verbal communication, and we’re acutely aware of the mighty power of language.
Our ‘Winning Bids’ workshop in particular looks at how important it is to identify specifically what is important to the ‘Buyer’ and to use language that appeals to him / her / them. That way, you’re really putting their needs first – and who doesn’t want to do business with someone who has ‘you’ as the focus of their attention?
It IS how you tell it
Since time immemorial, Mankind has relied on storytelling (story-singing) as a way of conveying messages. Never ones to shun a time proven strategy, we at Speak The Speech actively encourage storytelling and will share with you lots of ideas about how to make your bids compelling and memorable.
In this post Brexit world, the ability to convince others will, we think, become ever more essential. Click on the following link and have a look at our ‘Winning Bids’ workshop Winning Bids . Let us help you prepare for success.
Laughter – the best medicine
Humour can be great when it comes to rapport building. We’ll show you how to harness the strength of a giggle! For more information, hints and tips, keep up with us on social media - Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.
Talking of humour – it took me a while to realise that Mum wasn’t telling people her neighbour’s wife came from the Lebanon and that Pearl Gray wasn’t someone she knew with body odour, but rather Earl Grey tea that she thought was smelly!
In super fond memory of my lovely Mum – Joan Gladys Nickoll (26:09:29 to 15:06:16). “… rest in peas, Mum xx …”
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My Biggest Communication Mistake

 
It was the early 90’s. I was working in a training consultancy, busy delivering Performance Management workshops within a large (very large) magazine publishing company. The courses were being well received, so much so, that one day I received a telephone call from the Personnel & Training Manager (remember personnel departments?!) saying that she’d like to offer the courses to other parts of the organisation and that there was a particular editor she wanted me to meet.
Fantastic! My client was calling me with the potential of more work. No cold-calling required. This lead wasn’t lukewarm – it was hypothetically hot!
It took a while to find a mutually convenient date, but eventually I found myself in the office of the aforementioned editor. She was on the ‘phone at the time – one of the 3 'phones on her desk jostling for space among a mountain of paperwork – various pages of “copy” and goodness only knows what else. You couldn’t see the surface of the desk it was so cluttered. A coffee table in the room was equally “disarranged”! The call was about some “deadline”. No sooner had she replaced the receiver (yes, dear reader, it was one of those “old-fashioned” ‘phones!) – when another one rang. She tried, unsuccessfully, to do the “… can I call you back later …” response, but ended up having to offer some pretty “direct advice” to someone!
Silence Isn’t Always Golden!
As she put down the (2nd) ‘phone I extended my hand and said “… wow – look at your desk …!” She fixed me with a quizzical look and we exchanged a very limp handshake. She then sat back in her large, leather (swivel) armchair and said ….. absolutely nothing! (I’d experienced a time a bit like this some years previously. It had involved a Headmistress seeking an “explanation”!).
Unperturbed, I launched into my fact-finding mission using the tried and tested open questions that had always served me so well in the past.
Somehow, she managed to answer every enquiry monosyllabically! It wasn’t long before I found myself answering my own questions simply because I couldn’t bear the awkward silences that were developing rapidly. When she reached the point of openly sighing (which, if my memory serves me right, didn’t take that long), I knew drastic measures were called for.
Re-think Required
I put down my pen, looked her in the eye and (rather bravely, I thought) suggested that I had obviously done something wrong, but that I wasn’t sure exactly what! Her fixed, quizzical look morphed into one of utter disdain as she replied (and I remember her words as if it was only yesterday) “… I don’t want to do business with someone who thinks my desk is messy …”!
OMG! Talk about my “intent” and my “impact” being totally at odds with one another!
You see – I’d committed the cardinal sin that results in mis-communication. I’d disregarded the fact that communication doesn’t occur within a void – it’s “situational”. It wasn’t that I’d not been inundated with clues – I’d simply ignored them:
Clue 1 – it had taken several attempts to secure the meeting
Clue 2 – she had THREE ’phones on her desk for crying out loud
Clue 3 – the first call I’d “overheard” was about a deadline
Clue 4 – the second call had been “sharp” (to say the least!) …
This woman was seriously busy. Her desk epitomised her situation. She was a hardworking lady with an important role to fulfil. The magazine for which she was responsible was the company’s flagship publication. From her perspective, my comment about her desk had somehow “questioned” her work ethic! Remember: effective communication involves our eyes just as much – if not more – than our mouths! (didn’t Mr Mehrabian tell us that over 50% of the communication process is non-verbal?).
We Can Help
Have you ever “put your foot in it”? Have you ever wished you’d taken a deep breath before launching into a response? At Speak The Speech we know that meaningful communication involves more than words. Our Executive Communication Skills, Effective Conversations and Building Trust programmes all embrace the key concepts of truly effective interaction – conveying messages with our “whole” selves – whether that’s on a “formal” or “informal” basis. Visit our website Speak The Speech where you can access information about the courses we offer. Have a look at our workshop overviews to help you decide which one is right for you and contact us for more information. We’ll communicate with you as effectively as possible!
Bravery Required
How did I salvage the situation? I asked her to “… bear with me …”, got up and left the office, knocked on the door, entered and said “… wow – I can tell from your desk that you’re extremely busy – don’t let me take up more of your time than is absolutely necessary …”
We didn’t end up bosom pals exactly, but she did give me a year’s subscription free!
 
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The Ghost Of Speak The Speech past, present and future.

As we “officially” launch our new social media platforms this week, I thought it might be fun to reflect on the Speak The Speech journey so far; where we are now and what might lie ahead for us in the future. Let me present therefore, The Ghost of Speak The Speech Past, Present and Future! So come with me if you will, dear reader, back to January 1998 and to two young (ish) actors, fresh out of drama-school.
I’d like to be able to say that Speak The Speech was the brainchild of those two forward-thinking, quick-witted entrepreneurs, Jon and Boo. But it wasn’t. It was actually not our idea at all. It was Boo’s lovely and long-suffering wife Michelle. Boo and I were just out of drama school you see. Boo was convinced that he was going to be the next James Bond (the nearest he eventually got was a commercial audition for Brook Bond). I thought I would be playing Hamlet at the RSC. Alas poor Jonny never got to fulfil that fantasy either.
Michelle, who was managing an IT training company at the time, thankfully had her feet firmly planted on the ground and suggested to Boo that it could just be possible that he won’t become the new James Bond and that maybe he could put his newly acquired skills to good use by training business people to speak nicely. She could then offer the training to her clients. Shaken but not stirred, Boo reluctantly agreed and decided he needed a partner in crime. Enter Jonny Bacon stage left.
I’d like to be able to say that our combined drive and determination led to us instantly creating our first course but, again, this would not be true. The trouble was that whenever Boo and I would get together at his flat to thrash out the course outline we would inevitably start with a little beer and a chat about football. Then we would have another little beer and a chat about cricket. Then another one and….well you get the picture. Michelle would despair. But eventually we got there and by summer of 1998 we were ready to go with our first Power Of Speech Presentation Skills course. The problem was that we didn’t have any customers. So Michelle enlisted 4 brave and foolhardy clients/guinea pigs to be our “pilot” audience.
I don’t think I have ever felt as nervous as I did before that course. “What if they don’t like us?” “What if they think we are talking rubbish?” “What if they think Boo is funnier than me?” - these ridiculous and irrational thoughts were just a few that were crashing around in my head.
We were a hit darling!! A massive hit! They LOVED me, I mean us. They LOVED us!! Oh the relief! We hadn’t made complete fools of ourselves. We HAD something!!
I’d like to be able to say that from there we soared and immediately started to take over the world. This would also not be true. For several years we kind of limped/staggered along, only running courses when Michelle got us work. We were still ACTOOOOORS you see and those dreams were still very much alive. In fact we weren’t even called Speak The Speech back then. We had made the schoolboy error of taking the first letters of both of our names and called ourselves BJ Training. You should have heard some of the phone calls we got. Michelle suggested that perhaps we might think about a different name and so, eventually, “Speak The Speech” was born. There have been several rows over the years as to who came up with the name but I DO know it was definitely not me. Michelle thinks it was Michelle. Boo thinks it was Boo. Who to believe?
It wasn’t really until 2005, that Speak The Speech became our prime focus. Boo had achieved success in the world of TV and I had been producing and acting in plays out in Budapest with two dear friends Mike and Matt (more to come from one of them later…) But by 2005 and with mortgages to pay, we both agreed that whilst acting was fun, it was not going to keep us in the manner that we would like to be accustomed to. So, we ditched the acting and, I am pleased to say, have never, EVER looked back……….Looking back, I still sometimes wonder how we managed to go from just those opening one or two clients that Michelle had got us, to the hundreds we now have all over the world. I think the answer lies with my business partner. Boo was/is a brilliant salesman. I won’t give away ALL his techniques as you have to PAY for those! But I will share my favourite Boo story of how he managed to pick up one of our favourite and longest surviving clients. In the summer of 2005 Boo found himself in Nottingham for a Bob Dylan concert. Arriving at Nottingham train station a little bit early he saw the building of Capital One opposite the station and thought “oh I’ll just pop in.” He went in and got chatting to the receptionist who, as luck would have it, was also a Bob Dylan fan. Pushing his luck, he asked her who he should speak to about delivering training courses. Fifteen minutes later, Boo had a meeting organised with the head of Learning and Development. The rest is history. He has no fear when it comes to sales. It’s a real gift.
So what about the present? Well here we are now in 2016 and the fact that I am typing this in a hotel in Dubai tells you that Speak The Speech is now a global company that spreads its skills and techniques to all corners of the world. It is no longer Boo and I. Remember my actor friend Mike from Budapest? He has now been with us for 5 years and has brought a touch of star quality with him. He was never James Bond but he did actually work with James Bond. He, Daniel Craig and Kate Winslet were in a film together and were good mates during the run. He is also a Hollywood actor having just had a part in the Matt Damon film, The Martians which won an Oscar would you believe! We are lucky to have him. Same applies to the legendary Janis Rees who is basically the company mum! I don’t know where we would be without her to be honest. She is also a brilliantly, clever coach who has added another dimension to our offering. Add in our Associates, Hugo and Ben, together with three new and exciting actors Matt, Graeme and Brittina and you have a fantastic team that offers innovative and inspiring courses.
For any of you that have been on our courses you will know that we transform people every single day. For us it is all about achieving consistent quality in communication. We do it with the simplest, but most effective techniques and are proud to constantly receive the highest feedback results from our clients. The courses are dynamic, high impact and most of all, fun - you can’t learn if you can’t enjoy. But, most of all, it is all routed in authenticity, honesty and humility. The best communicators listen more than they speak.
And what about the future Jacob Marley? What will that bring? Well we are living in uncertain times so no one can be sure. But what we do know is that we all love what we do and are committed to helping people continue to grow their skills and their confidence. In spite of the incredible growth of digital, it is pleasing for us to see that people still need to speak. Building relationships is as important as ever and we see it as our jobs to remind people how to be effective with their mouths as well as with their fingers and thumbs. But we want to move with technology, not fight it. We understand that businesses are under pressure, that resources are stretched and that staff across the world are being asked to do more for less. As such, we are expanding our digital offering so that our courses are now available as a mixture of online and face-to-face learning. We see this very much as the future.
But what excites me most about the future is teaching and coaching our young children to take on the world. Look at how the GB Olympics team have developed over the last few years thanks to proper funding and proper coaching. They are an inspiration to us all and have turned a nation that was once ridiculed for being useless to one that is respected around the world. I would love that same level of quality to be seen in the communication skills of our children. So, Speak The Speech will be looking to offer courses to schools and universities and also to spread the word amongst our clients who are parents. It is so important that your children don’t get lost in the worlds of Ipads and tablets. One little tip that has totally transformed the speaking skills of my 6 year old twins; I used to ask them “how was school today?” I am sure you know the sort of answer I would normally get “er, yeah…….Ok…..” Silence. Like getting blood out of stone. Now we play a game at family dinner every night. I say “tell me about your day at school for one minute and you are not allowed to say “er” or “um”. Works every time and even my shy daughter is now able to speak freely and without hesitation. Give it a try. This stuff starts when you are young.
So I hope you have enjoyed reading this and that you like our new social media platforms on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. Over the coming months we will be doing blogs on a whole range of subjects like “How has Donald Trump done it?!” to “Vulnerability” to “Communication in Leadership” I hope you enjoy them and would also ask you to feel free to contribute or ask any questions.

The time I went on Strictly to help with nerves

With Strictly Come Dancing well under way I was thinking back to my brief appearance on the show.

I’m sure you are now thinking 'I bet the Argentinian tango was his speciality - those cat like moves that he exhibited when prowling into the office reception …..’ Even if I was playing James Bond with a string of number one hits my dancing skills would always prevent me getting on as a contestant although, in my mind I’m the best partner Aliona never had.

I actually was asked to help with the contestant Jo Wood - who was struggling with her nerves. A problem that we can all relate to. I just wanted to share the story because one of the key factors in helping Jo overcome her fear is something that I feel we could all do a little more of.

So the scene is set - 4 weeks in to Jo’s time on Strictly and she suddenly hits a barrier - not only is she very nervous before and building up to the big live show on a Saturday night ( watched by 10 million viewers ) but to compound this she feels that in this particular week she can’t do the dance either. Enter her knight in shining armour. Jo was very friendly and open and we had a great afternoon going through some simple techniques that can help control nerves. However the magic moment came when during a run through of her dance I realised that it wasn’t the dance that she couldn’t do but a complicated lift at the end of the routine. So every time she started rehearsing the dance she started worrying about the one thing she wasn’t comfortable with. Not only did she not enjoy the stuff she was doing well she was getting more and more tense at the thought of the complicated thing that she feared being ‘just round the corner'.

Like so many of us - Jo was letting ‘one’ thing undermine her approach to the whole event and undermine her confidence. Think of all those times we go into a meeting, presentation or speech not thinking ‘ great - I know my stuff, I look good, I sound good and this is going to show me in a great way. NO what we normally do is ignore all the good stuff and go into the meeting, presentation or speech thinking - 'what happens if I forget a chunk of it - what happens if I’m asked a question I can’t answer etc…. When we’re fearful we nearly always get drawn to the negative.

Like Jo - you do have to make an allowance for the difficult lift but don’t let it ruin the many great things that you are already doing really well and immediately taking for granted. Keep a balanced view and allow yourself to think positively. Jo actually went through the dance a few times stopping just before the lift and she actually did 95% of the dance brilliantly - so that when she came to do the lift section just before the close of the dance, she did it so much more positively that the obstacle was easily overcome. Quite literally, with much more bounce in her step. She was no longer expecting it to go wrong. As so often happens, if you keep expecting something to go wrong theres a good chance it will. Sometimes we almost ‘will it ‘ to go wrong.

Dealing with our nerves is something we can all relate to, so it is something we frequently cover in our courses and coaching sessions. To find out more click here. For other hints, tips and observations follow us on Social - Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin.

So, whether your presenting, selling or even cooking think positively. Strictly Positive.

Keep dancing

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