Today, we’ve got a guest blog from Michael Taylor – a journalist with 20 years track record, successful involvement in business for some time and now, moving into another arena as an event producer. Based in the North West and very well connected to some of the coolest people around, we’re really pleased to have Michael give us some tips for presenting and what’s important when speaking…
Growing a business requires paying attention to how that business is understood by the outside world – and so it remains vitally important for all businesses to engage with the media, despite everything you may have read about the decline of traditional channels. It was in this context that I delivered a “masterclass” for management consultancy Winning Pitch, creators of the High Growth Foundation. The 40 or so attendees were all small business owners, so I had to pitch it quite broadly.
I spoke for about two and a half hours in total, taking a break coffee, but tried to be interactive and conversational. One of the subjects I covered was how to get ready for appearing at an event. The last thing they want to see therefore is someone who doesn’t appear prepared, authentic and memorable – the very things I was telling them all they MUST do. As an events producer myself, I always brief speakers at events to focus on what they know and to give something of themselves without overtly selling. The literal interpretation of what you do is probably the least interesting thing you could talk about. I use as an example my pal Phil Jones, the MD of Brother UK. He delivers time and time again as a conference speaker or panellist. Has he ever tried to sell a total paper based ink connectivity connections interface solution, a printer in plain English? Has he heck! If he did he’d be finished and wouldn’t be asked back. He talks about trends in workplace design, management patterns for distributed workplaces and the uses and abuses of social media. Would I ask him for a printer if I needed one? – Of course I would – plenty of others would too.
The main point is he’s memorable.
I dished out a few trade secrets and home truths about the mindset of the journalist on business desks and BBC newsrooms – which ones will be more receptive to opinions and what kind of stories to drop on a journalist at what time. The trick is to understand where resources are distributed and which are the hungry beasts to feed – measure the output of a publication and work out how many staff work on it.
I don’t think there’s anything magical about what I said, it just happens to be what I know about – a collection of stories and observations from my experience.
It helped too that three of the people there were friends I recently went on a Learning Journey to California with (pictured above are Heather Lomas, Jim Clarke, me and Gareth Burton).
I enjoyed it enormously and would love to do more of these sessions – there are plenty more stories, hints, tips and insights that could really help a business get a better profile, in the media, and then in the places where you can do it for yourself like blogs and social media.
But do you know what – many of the same rules apply.