Michael Dodd Communications http://www.michaeldoddcommunications.com Become An Inspirational Communicator Tue, 27 Aug 2019 17:42:38 +0000 en-GB hourly 1 Macron Message Mastery http://www.michaeldoddcommunications.com/macron-message-mastery/ Tue, 27 Aug 2019 17:41:00 +0000 http://www.michaeldoddcommunications.com/?p=4923 When it comes to utilising the power of brilliant communication, France’s President Macron has commendably been showing the way.
 
This comes amidst the flames and ashes of tragic circumstances for South America and for the entire planet.
 
Emmanuel Macron has focused increased global attention in a masterly manner – and prompted action inside and outside Brazil in various ways – on the largely human-ignited tragedy of the flaming Amazon rainforests.

 

 

The president achieved this by effectively conveying a powerful, urgent, cleverly-crafted message – to underline the importance of taking urgent action for the sake of the whole world.
 
Much has been said by many on what appears to be the largely deliberate outbreak of fires engulfing much of South America.
 
There’s an enormous reservoir of understandable international goodwill towards the Amazon rain forest upon which Emmanuel Macron has been able to draw.
 
This extends from those for whom the Amazon enjoys a favoured place in their heart – even though they’re yet to experience it…
 
… and it embraces all those who live in and around the Amazon…

 

 

… as well as those who’ve had the immense privilege of being temporarily enmeshed in the splendour of the rainforest, such as the intrepid Amazonian explorer pictured in happier Brazilian days below, inland from Rio de Janiero.
 
 

 
 
It was President Macron’s breakthrough message – originally encapsulated in single carefully-worded tweet – that did much to propel action at an international level.
 
“Our house is burning. Literally. The Amazon rainforest – the lungs which produces 20 percent of our planet’s oxygen – is on fire,” he tweeted.
 
This dramatic central message has been encapsulated in all President Macron’s various communications on the issue.

 
 

 

Other world leaders – from Boris Johnson to Angela Merkel – were subsequently quick to support the cause.
 
 

 

So, too, were big names from the non-political world such as Christiano Ronaldo….
 
 

 

…And Madonna

 

 

Even the alleged arch environmental villain, Brazilian President Jair Bolsanaro – held by environmentalists to have been encouraging farmers to start the fires – was grudgingly moved to marginally shift position and send in Brazilian troops to help tackle the multitudinous blazes.

 

 

President Macron’s simple analogies involving “our house” and “the lungs” are founded on a powerful combination of both truth-based rationality and emotion.
 
Another prominent president – who’s better known for his tweets, though less so for his enthusiasm towards environmental protection and tackling climate change – often gets attention through pure emotion.
 
But I suspect many, including even some of his slightly more cerebral supporters, might agree that his balancing between rationality and emotion isn’t always evident in his tweets.
 
When I’m working with clients to help them formulate the right message for a situation, I stress that it’s vital to get the balance between rationality and emotion exactly right.

Here’s a free purple-coloured extract from the book “Great Answers To Tough Questions” which explains it – with the help of a diagram of a train…
         
 
“Excellent communication involves a balance between facts and emotion.
 
If it’s all factual, your content could be seen as too dry and dull.
 
If it’s all emotional, your content could be seen as hysterical and out-of-control.
 
You can think of a great message as being like a train speeding along the tracks towards its destination.
The tracks guide the direction of the train’s journey.
 
They represent the factual underpinning of the message.
We can regard this as the GUIDANCE element.
     
But the train needs some kind of energy to allow it to move.
 
This energy – diesel, electricity or steam – allows the train to progress. The energy represents the emotional content of the message.
 
We can regard this as the PUSH element.
 
The train won’t get anywhere without both elements – tracks and energy.
 
Your message won’t get anywhere without both elements – GUIDANCE and PUSH.
 
This allows you to satisfy both minds and hearts!”

 

 

President Macron’s tweet provides a powerful effective example of this.
 
The whole of Great Answers To Tough Questions At Work, and more than 50 reviews (thanks reviewers!), is available in the UK here:

 

 

And it’s is available around the world – in paperback, kindle, talking book, CD and MP3 form – with more reviews (more thanks reviewers!) here:

https://www.amazon.com/dp/0857086391/ref=cm_sw_em_r_mt_dp_U_B9szDb2FGVPWN

Working with you to determine your central message – and how to bring it to life – form an essential part of one-to-one and group sessions on media training.
 
http://www.michaeldoddcommunications.com/media-master-classes/
 
And message formulation is also a vital part of one-to-one and group sessions on Presenting With Confidence, Impact and Pizzazz:
 
http://www.michaeldoddcommunications.com/presenting-with-confidence-impact-and-pizzazz/
 
Helping audiences know how to determine their central messages are also woven into communication-boosting keynotes at your conference.
 
http://www.michaeldoddcommunications.com/speaking-at-your-event/
 
Conference keynotes can also include showing your audience the techniques used by specific high profile communicators.
 
This helps your audience identify that which is effective about what the star communicators do – and what’s not – when studying what they do in the spotlight.
 
Before the keynote we can select which are the most appropriate high profile performers for your audience to look at.
 
In the field of business that could focus on the media skills of Virgin’s Sir Richard Branson.

 

 

Or in the field of international affairs a keynote could even focus on the communications skills of Emmanuel Macron himself.

 

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Boost Your Communications While Studying Boris Johnson?… You Can’t Be Serious! http://www.michaeldoddcommunications.com/boost-your-communications-while-studying-boris-johnson-you-cant-be-serious/ Wed, 07 Aug 2019 15:26:51 +0000 http://www.michaeldoddcommunications.com/?p=4915 Whether you love him or hate him, new British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has one particular undeniable talent.

OK, it’s not the talent to always be seen with the right people –  as demonstrated here. 

Everyone makes mistakes!

But the undeniable talent Boris Johnson has is the ability to divide the human race between those who love him and those who don’t.

In Britain, they regard this as having what’s known as a “Marmite” tendency.

This is named after a terrible-tasting dark brown substance which some love to spread on their toast – and some don’t.

 

 

It’s not to be confused with a wonderful-tasting dark brown substance, which some people in Australia and beyond, love to spread on their toast and some don’t, known “Vegemite”.

 

 

But that’s another story.

One of the reasons Boris Johnson splits public opinion – almost in a way that separates Marmite fans from Vegemite fans – is because when it comes to the Boris Johnson communications approach there is a Good Boris and a Bad Boris.

I’m referring here exclusively about communications skills – not about Boris Johnson’s politics which is far more dangerous territory that I won’t be entering.

But I’m so adamant that there’s much we can learn from both Good Boris and from Bad Boris that I’m offering some new communications-boosting speaker sessions for conferences, company away days and business leaders’ groups.

More on these later, but first let’s have a look at Good Boris.

 

 

And let’s have a look at and Bad Boris.

 

 

Both Good Boris and Bad Boris feature in this compilation put to air as he was about to take up residence at 10 Downing Street.

 

 

Some of the features of the Good Boris communications approach here include his ability to:

+ Grab and hold attention

+ Convey simple clear messages

+ Deploy visual aids to colourfully illustrate his arguments – in a way that’s often far more effective than Powerpoint slides

+ Use words – even fancier ones than I normally recommend – with high impact (Note the reference to “Great supine protoplasmic invertebrate jellies” which transmits a certain feeling – even to those who don’t daily use the word “protoplasmic”).

But you may have noticed some features of the Bad Boris communications approach are also on display in the video.

And if I were Boris Johnson’s secret communications advisor – which I stress I am not, despite the above photo – here are some of the Bad Boris tendencies I’d be tactfully suggesting he, and you, adopt:

+ Check out in advance everything you say and ensure you only utter exact truths

+ Deal with tough questions honestly, while conveying a positive message, whenever they’re thrown at you

+ Never lose your cool when asked a question in public (So avoid Bad Boris’s use of that informal expression which seemed to include the words “Get” and “Stuffed” in close proximity)

You may have even noticed Good Boris and Bad Boris appearing together at the point one demonstrably untrue statement was made.

This is when he said it would be impossible for him to become Prime Minister – something which he and recent history have proven to be false.

But his contention – untrue though it proved – was colourfully illustrated with memorable images involving Boris being reincarnated as an olive and being decapitated by a flying Frisbee. 

Good Boris and Bad Boris also appear together in the speech he made as the Mayor of London in Beijing in 2008 at the time of the handover of the Olympic Flag to symbolise the fact that the 2012 games would next be held in his city.

Good Boris excelled in the fact that he was (perhaps uncharacteristically) extremely careful and diplomatic in ensuring that he praised his Chinese hosts for their amazing Olympic organising.

So he made sure he didn’t actually contend that the London Olympics would be superior to the Beijing Olympics while still indicating it would be a pretty amazing effort (which indeed it proved to be).

Good Boris also demonstrated his ability to say things to his audience which makes them feel fantastic.

In addition he showed his ability to dig out colourful historic facts to bring humour, goodwill and joy (Note the stirring reference to the London Police team winning the tug of war gold medal in the 1908 Olympics).

But on the Good Boris/Bad Boris borderline he used hyperbole to arguably overstate the glorious British role in developing sports – even though it was to very amusing effect as you can see in this video.
 

 

 

And Good Boris/Bad Boris possibly even went as far as actual historical distortion – such as his amusing but questionable claim that the table tennis-like game “whiff-whaff” was invented by the English ahead of the game “ping pong”.

This has been hotly disputed.

If you want to get to the bottom of the historical truth, take a look at the article here in Boris Johnson’s old newspaper, The Telegraph, where he was once a correspondent.

This story focused on the ping-pong controversy immediately after Mr Johnson started it.
 

Boris Johnson in whiff-whaff ping-pong row

You can check out the Ping-Pong/Whiff-Waff story at: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/london-mayor-election/mayor-of-london/2666041/Boris-Johnson-in-whiff-whaff-ping-pong-row.html

When it comes to preparing the amusing part of your next speech (if that’s appropriate), be aware that more careful wording on Bad Boris’s part could have used the same material in such a way – deploying useful journalistic words like “allegedly” – so that it could have been both amusing AND accurate.

Of course, the aim of my Boris-focused communications-boosting speaker sessions is to help audience members spot and – where appropriate – try out things they pick up from Good Boris, while avoiding the pitfalls of Bad Boris.

Ultimately the aim is to draw upon the pluses of Boris Johnson’s communications approach – and those of other high profile communicators who would sometimes also be featured – while helping audience members become an even more effective version of themselves!

 

LEARNING FROM GOOD AND BAD BORIS AT SPEAKER SESSIONS

So the following Michael Dodd Communications speaker sessions are now available – for conferences, away days, business leaders’ groups and other gatherings…

+ WHAT COMMUNICATING THE BORIS JOHNSON WAY IS ALL ABOUT: Identify what communicators can learn and what they should avoid based on Good Boris and Bad Boris performances before and after he hit 10 Downing Street. 

+ LESSONS FROM THE BORIS JOHNSON-DONALD TRUMP COMMUNICATIONS APPROACH: What we can learn and what to avoid as communicators – based on the Boris Johnson and Donald Trump methods of conveying their message.

+ COMMUNICATIONS LESSONS FROM ASSORTED POLITICAL LEADERS: What we can learn and what we should avoid by looking at the good, the bad and the (allegedly) mad… from controversial leaders like Boris Johnson, Tony Blair, Barrack Obama and beyond.

+ BOOSTING YOUR BUSINESS COMMUNICATIONS: Master class for experiential learners in business leaders’ groups and companies keen to pick up techniques from the best of high profile communicators in recent times – from Steve Jobs to Dame Anita Roddick to Sir Richard Branson… and from Boris Johnson to Barrack Obama to Swedish teenage environmentalist, Greta Thunberg.

 

 

Every speaker session is tailored specifically to your audience, with the help of pre-session forms to sample of audience members’ preferences and insightful briefings from speaker bookers. 

The aim is always to focus on high profile performers that are most relevant for your audience.

This is so everyone learns what to pick up on – and what to avoid – while refining their own communications approach.

Comments, questions and telephone discussions on 44 (0) 7944 952835 on any of these offerings are welcome.

 

OPPORTUNITY FOR WOMEN TO ELEVATE YOUR VISIBILITY IN THE WORKPLACE  

 
Most of the speaker sessions I run are for specific audiences at conferences and other company events, and are – as a result – not open to the wider public.

But there is one coming up which is open to the public – especially for females in or entering the business world.

This is for those who would like to raise their profile in the workplace.
 
I’m delighted to be working with female professionals in London to help them do exactly that on Tuesday 24 September 2019 at a conference organised by the Women Leaders Association (The WLA).
 
I’ll be working alongside the WLA Founder and Executive Coach, Sandra Green, to help participants elevate their visibility make a bigger impact.

 

 

Sandra will be speaking about why – and exactly how – women need to raise their visibility…helping them take on some of the challenges that sometimes hold them back.

I’ll be running two workshops at the event which is at the delightful London Art House in Islington.

 

 

My first session is “YOUR MESSAGE IN 60 SECONDS” – helping delegates refine their content, structure and delivery style to make a bigger impact at times when you need to introduce yourself at meetings – and other situations where you need to make a powerful point in a short space of time.

My second session is “GREAT ANSWERS TO TOUGH QUESTIONS AT WORK”.
This will help delegates to give more impressive responses to nightmare questions from customers, prospects, staff, journalists, financiers, officials and members of their own team… and make a stronger impact along the way.

Delegates will also get the chance to hear the inspirational story of Anna Delvecchio, the Head of New Business Development at the infrastructure support service company, Amey, and get her tips on how to raise your visibility inside and outside your organisation.

 

If you’d like to join Sandra, Anna and me to help boost your workplace visibility, you can find further details and book your ticket here: 
https://sandragreen.lpages.co/elevate-visibility-2019/
Whether you are – or are not – one of those admirers of Boris Johnson’s communications style, I can give you a personal assurance that neither Good Boris nor Bad Boris is likely to be there!

But do let me know if you would like to be.

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Media Lessons From The Sporting Bonanza http://www.michaeldoddcommunications.com/media-lessons-from-the-sporting-bonanza/ Mon, 22 Jul 2019 19:20:20 +0000 http://www.michaeldoddcommunications.com/?p=4908 At a time when tennis, cricket – and even the surging sport of netball! – are bombarding our TV screens, there’s much to harvest in the way of communications lessons.

These lessons come from the bonanza of post-match interviews with which we’re “blessed” after every big match.

As a result, it’s becoming ever-clearer that you can be an on-field loser but still come out as a media winner!

 

 

Alas the reverse is also true.

You can perform well in the match but end up as a media loser!

Whether you emerge as a winner or loser in media interviews – and when communicating in any situation in sport, business or some other field – is entirely down to you.

If you train for it, and you have the right attitude, you can potentially come out as a media winner time after time whatever the on-field result!

 

GET YOURSELF READY FOR THAT PREDICTABLE COMMUNICATIONS MOMENT

It’s a routine challenge for sports stars to be interviewed almost immediately after their full-on physical and emotional playing performance has ended.

 

 

It’s a challenge I’ve sometimes had the privilege of getting sport stars ready for.

And as with media interviews and other important communications moments in every sphere, it’s vital that you take a few minutes (more if you can) to think about what to say before the microphone is thrust under your nose.

This helps ensure that your thoughts and your underlying attitude are in the right place.

Immediately after his defeat – and before he’d left the court following the longest Wimbledon Men’s Final in history – Roger Federer was obliged to do the now traditional on-court interview with Sue Barker.

 

 

He was able to laugh off questioning about his massive age – 37 – and come across with admirable good humour… as you can witness here.

 

 

This provided a marked contrast to the approach of Johanna Konta.

 

 

After having a remarkably good Wimbledon before being eventually being knocked out towards the end, she managed the tennis equivalent of a volley of own goals at her post-match press conference.

 

 

 

Admittedly in these two contrasting interviews, it’s Johanna Konta who faced the tougher questioning.

But dealing with this is a learnable skill.

I’ve shared my rules for being interviewed straight after a match with a number of sporting stars.

These rules include:

+ Regardless of the questions, show grace under pressure

+ Whatever has gone wrong on-field, have a positive good-natured approach off-field

+ Playing the victim doesn’t work 

+ Avoid responding to a question with a question – unless you genuinely don’t understand it or didn’t hear it

+ Seek to get across a positive message (the equivalent of scoring a sporting winner) at every opportunity.

I don’t know for a fact, but I assume based on his consistently assured and gracious interview approach that Roger Federer has had some quality media training.

If Johanna Konta has had any, alas it doesn’t show.

A little guidance on giving great answers to tough questions goes a long long way in sport, in business and beyond – for teams and individuals. 

http://www.michaeldoddcommunications.com/give-great-answers-to-tough-questions/

You can read the first chapter free on line of a book that can help at:
 

 

BE READY FOR THOSE OBVIOUS QUESTIONS

If there is something obvious that you’re going to be asked about, even though you won’t know the exact wording of the question until it’s put, make sure you have a positive message to include in your answer.

For example, in the sporting world I was once working with a rugby team where their attack was typically far more impressive than their defence.

So, knowing that critical pre-match and post-match questions about defence were always likely, we ensured that the captain and coaches would always be ready for this.

As they were working hard off-field to improve their defence, their key message to convey was “boosting our defence is a central priority for us”.

They were ready to follow this with examples of the specific things they were doing in their rigorous physical training to upgrade the tackling performance.

In business across Europe at the moment, the toughest questions are often about how prepared the company is for Brexit.

So assuming your company has taken steps such as stocking up on vital items where necessary ahead Britain’s official exit from the European Union, be ready to specify what these measures are in your answers in order to sound appropriately reassuring.

This is important when facing questions from the media as well as from customers and prospects worried about whether you can supply them.

If you or your team need some guidance to come across as more inspirational or effective communicators – either one-to-one, in groups or at your annual conference or away day – check out the menu of options to help at: 

http://www.michaeldoddcommunications.com/michael-dodd-services/

 

SCORING MEDIA INTERVIEWS FROM YOUR INTERNET POSTS

Do be aware that journalists everywhere are often keen to interview you if they’ve spotted something interesting for their audience that you or your organisation has publicised somewhere on the internet.

For example, some comments I made recently about the pop star Liam Gallagher in this e-zine were subsequently picked up by Talk Radio Europe – which broadcasts in English from its base in the Spanish resort of Malaga.

So it was splendid to be interviewed on TRE’s breakfast programme by its morning radio star Hannah Murray.

 

 

In the unlikely event that you missed it live, you can listen to the interview here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6Ys6abcYp0c&t=8s

Whether you need to be ready to be questioned as a rock star, a sports star or a business star, you can learn in advance how to shine out before you’re anywhere near a challenging questioner.

http://www.michaeldoddcommunications.com/media-master-classes/

Alas I can’t teach you how to reach the Wimbledon finals as often as Roger Federer (12 times so far)…

… but I can help you come out a winner every time you’re questioned – however you’ve just performed on the field of play in music, sport or business.

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Planning Ahead Of Those Big Moments In The Spotlight http://www.michaeldoddcommunications.com/planning-ahead-of-those-big-moments-in-the-spotlight/ Mon, 08 Jul 2019 17:55:00 +0000 http://www.michaeldoddcommunications.com/?p=4897 If you’re going to speak in the spotlight, there are massive benefits in working on – and testing out – what you’re going to say before that searing light shines upon you.

 

And when you’re deciding WHAT it is you want to say, there’s much to be said for working in advance on HOW you might best express it.
 
The importance of taking an enlightened approach has just been underlined by no less a figure than the “God-King” spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama.

 

 

The Dalai Lama’s performance in a BBC interview suggests that amidst his life in India, in exile from Chinese-controlled Tibet, he isn’t as aware as he might be of contemporary developments on gender equality in the wider world.
 
The benefits of thinking things through ahead of time – and being tested out before it’s too late – are available to those who take part in communications-boosting sessions in advance of important interactions.
 
But the Dalai Lama, it would seem, has not taken advantage of such opportunities.
 
As a result, the benefits of communications-boosting sessions have become even clearer now that the Tibetan spiritual leader has apologised for the most contentious thing he uttered in that BBC interview.
 
 

SPEAKING WISDOM AMIDST THE MOSQUITOS

 
The Dalai Lama is justifiably recognised for his snappy incisive and inspiring wisdom.
 
He’s the one credited with saying: “If you think you are too small to make a difference, try sleeping with a mosquito.”

 

 

But perhaps a mosquito was depriving him of sleep before he stumbled into an elephant trap laid before him by the BBC.
 
In the interview, the Dalai Lama insisted that if he were to be followed by a female successor then she must be “attractive”.
 
This caused something of a storm.
 

 

BOOSTING THE ATTRACTIVENESS OF YOUR COMMUNICATIONS

 
You can be the judge on whether you think “attractiveness” was the key factor in the selection of the Dalai Lama.

 

 
 
Whatever your judgment the storm the Dalai Lama set off was an easily preventable one.
 
It was especially so because the spiritual leader had made similar, though less widely publicised, remarks in the past.
 
So there was every reason to suspect that the topic of female succession might be raised by the BBC – giving him plenty of warning to think through in advance how best to respond.
 
This is not to suggest that it’s necessarily unwise to hold a controversial opinion.
 
What’s important is that if you have a view that is possibly out of step with majority sentiment, it’s worth considering whether you choose to proclaim it – and, if so, how you express it.
 
If you decide to share your view, it’s a good precaution to indicate that you realise the opinion may well be controversial as you express it – rather than appear naïve to the possibility that others might wildly disagree.
 
Acknowledging that your view is potentially outside mainstream thinking indicates that you are at least aware of alternative views – which will enable you appear more in touch with your audience members… both those who agree and those who don’t.
 
 

THINK AHEAD:
WHAT COULD THEY POSSIBLY ASK?

 

And it’s always worth considering what questions you might be asked in advance of a big occasion.
 
This is something which communications-boosting sessions help you focus upon… and enable you to think things out, be critiqued and to refine and polish your potential answers along the way.
 
The possibility of a question about potential female succession in the Dalai Lama’s case should not have come as a surprise.
 
In fact, the BBC interviewer who asked about it made reference to his previously expressed views on the topic.
 
You can check out the inflammatory part of the Dalai Lama interview at:
 

 

Of course it’s not just spiritual leaders who may have the odd blind spot.
 
We can all have them.
 
But the process of planning, preparing and practising ahead of a big moment – and allowing yourself to be tested out and critiqued in advance – is a way of identifying those blind spots and the potential traps they hide rather than diving headlong into them as the Dalai Lama managed.
 
Communications-boosting sessions help you focus on what you should say before the spotlight shines – whether in media encounters, job interviews, sales discussions, performance appraisals, board meetings, shareholder events, annual general meetings and more.
 
They can help you refine your presentations – and how you will respond to questions during and after them.
 
When you know what you’re saying has been properly tested out – with the communications trainer and, if you wish, a few of your trusted colleagues observing as well – then you can rightly feel more confident that you’re stepping safely in the big moments.
 
And any difficult areas that the process identifies give you the chance to reconfigure what you say and how you say it in advance so that you shine out rather than come unstuck in that spotlight.
 
Communications-boosting sessions are offered in a variety of forms. These include

  • Keynotes to get your whole team planning effectively to become more inspirational communicators while they’re at your annual conference

 
http://www.michaeldoddcommunications.com/speaking-at-your-event/

  • One-to-one coaching – face-to-face, on the phone or on Skype – to get you or colleagues in top shape for any critical communications performance

 
http://www.michaeldoddcommunications.com/become-that-inspirational-business-leader-in-12-hours/

  • Master classes for offsite days, “Lunch and Learn” events, internal company academies and workshops for business leaders’ groups

 
http://www.michaeldoddcommunications.com/workshops-for-business-leaders-groups/
 
 
Communications-boosting topics deal with a range of challenging situations that you and your colleagues need to be ready for. These include:
 
+ Media interview response training:
 
http://www.michaeldoddcommunications.com/media-master-classes/
 
 
+ Presenting with confidence, impact and pizzazz:
 
http://www.michaeldoddcommunications.com/presenting-with-confidence-impact-and-pizzazz/
 
 
+ Perfecting those vital 60-second business introductions to get you connecting with the right people at networking events:
 
http://www.michaeldoddcommunications.com/get-your-message-across-in-60-seconds/
 
+ Talking to the camera to get your message across in videos on the web and through webinars:
 
 
http://www.michaeldoddcommunications.com/talking-to-the-camera/
 
Communication-boosting sessions help you develop the right discipline with the content, structure and delivery style of your performances.

As the Dalai Lama proclaimed in one of his more disciplined performances:
 
“A disciplined mind leads to happiness, and an undisciplined mind leads to suffering.”
 
Guidelines on how to instil discipline in your verbal responses in the spotlight are set out in “Great Answers To Tough Questions At Work”, published by Wiley, at:
 

 

And a free author-signed copy of the book is hereby offered to the Dalai Lama if he chooses to receive it in person next time he comes to London.
 
The spiritual leader can use it to take his interview performances to a new level and, if necessary, deploy it as a handy bedside deterrent to wave away mosquitos!

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Lack Of Interview Planning Plan Results In “Cat Stabbing” Answers http://www.michaeldoddcommunications.com/lack-of-interview-planning-plan-results-in-cat-stabbing-answers/ Wed, 26 Jun 2019 18:25:23 +0000 http://www.michaeldoddcommunications.com/?p=4891 Angry pop star Liam Gallagher may attract screaming teenage fans, but his media interview response technique is not something to shout about.
 
When it comes to giving great answers in media interviews, carefully planning the key messages you’re seeking to convey before you start is a vital element.
 
It’s not just about attracting attention – something that Liam Gallagher is definitely good at.

 

 

And going into a media interview with a positive mindset is also critical to your success, as I highlight on all my media training programmes.
 
If you go into interviews without any planning – and just say whatever crazy thoughts pop into your head – things can run wildly in all directions.
 
The latest proof of this comes in an extraordinary interview Liam Gallagher has just granted BBC News.

 

 

After a famously falling out with his brother, Noel, which brought an end to their band Oasis ten years ago, Liam Gallagher clearly went into this interview in a still negative frame of mind about the split.
 
This led to some most bizarre answers.
 
It included Liam Gallagher’s insistence that he had not stabbed one of his brother’s cats.
 
He introduced this denial into the conversation even though no one, including the interviewer, suggested that such a thing had ever happened.
 
The comment was even odder as Liam Gallagher has a record of being fond of cats.

 

 

Liam Gallagher also maintained that he had not slapped one of Noel’s children – despite the fact that no one was suggesting he had done that either.
 
So the interview manages to inject both these disturbing negative images into the minds of viewers entirely on Liam Gallagher’s own spur-of-the-moment initiative.
 
 

MEDIA COVERAGE QUALITY VS QUANTITY

 
Of course, an interview given by a pop star can be rather different from an interview by a business person.
 
If a pop star takes the approach that any publicity is good publicity (something I do not advocate to business clients), then they might measure their success by the amount of media airtime and column inches that result.
 
In interviews conducted on behalf of your organisation, the actual content of what comes across through the media is far more critical to your success than merely the amount of space you can grab.
 
Liam Gallagher has a remarkable ability to project a kind of endearing grumpiness and negativity in interviews that should not be copied outside pop world.

 

 

CREATING “MAN BITES DOG” HEADLINES

 
But Liam Gallagher’s overflowing anger did happen to trigger some more positive news angles within the BBC interview.
 
A more commendable aspect is where he speaks passionately about the frightening wave of knife crime amongst young people in Britain, which he indicates is a threat to his own children and others.
 
 

 

 
Less predictably, the pop star also speaks out against politicians taking drugs – sparking what’s known in the media as a “Man-Bites-Dog” story.
 
This relates to happenings that are so unlikely that they capture media attention on the basis of their sheer unusualness.
 
The “Man-Bites-Dog” expression forms one definition of what makes news.
 
It’s based on the fact that if a dog bites a man it’s so common that in most circumstances it won’t make news – unless it’s a particularly ferocious attack or the dog is owned by a celebrity.
 
 

 
 
The opposite of course is the “Dog-Bites-Man” label for non-newsworthy events that are all too common.
 
So when it comes to politicians condemning pop stars for taking drugs this is something so in line with expectations that it can be regarded as a “Dog-Bites-Man” non-story.
 
What’s less expected is to have a pop star condemning politicians for taking drugs.
 
So after a series of recent drug-taking confessions by Conservative Party candidates seeking to become the new British Prime Minister, Liam Gallagher threatened to lash out, saying that if he saw a politician taking drugs he’d “crack him around the head”.
 
 

 

“POP STAR CONDEMNS POLITICIANS FOR SNORTING DRUGS” as a headline is about as “Man-Bites-Dog” as you can get.
 
There’s not much evidence that Liam Gallagher planned this angle.
 
Rather it appears to be one of those things that he just slipped into.
 
So overall, Liam Gallagher’s interview is a mixture of bad interview response practice and some aspects which appear to be accidentally effective.
 
But when you do media interviews on behalf of your business, it’s not advised to leave things to chance.
 
To see how unplanned interview responses can fly around in all sorts of unexpected directions, you can study the Liam Gallagher interview here:
 

 

If the Liam Gallagher performance persuades you that being trained to do interviews in a more disciplined manner is a preferable choice, check out the media training options at:

http://www.michaeldoddcommunications.com/media-master-classes/
 
 

HELP SAVE THE WORLD FROM BAD ANSWERS
HOW YOU CAN HELP

 
My interest in what makes great answers arose out of my previous work as a political interviewer and foreign correspondent – where I frequently witnessed how some interviewees thrived on blowtorch-on-the-belly questioning while others self-destructed under the pressure.
 
Of course, giving great answers to challenging questions is important in areas way beyond the media.
 
Dealing effectively with questions from customers, shareholders, officials, boardrooms and from those your own team can be equally – or even more important – at times.
 
Saving the world from bad answers is a challenging mission.
 
More superheroes are needed to help tackle the problem.
 
 

 

There are so many bad answers to tough questions amidst current political and economic uncertainties, the quest needs your involvement.
 
My aim is to equip everyone in business with a new way of learning how to replace bad answers with great ones.
 
This is through an online video series I’m planning to make with cutting-edge production company Five On A Bike.
 
 

 

There’s more on Five On A Bike at www.fiveonabike.com
 
I can carry on the quest of helping audiences on six continents in conference keynotes, master classes and one-to-one sessions to help people give great answers.
 
But we need more…
 
“GREAT ANSWERS TO TOUGH QUESTIONS IN THE BUSINESS WORLD” will be the online video learning series to help make your replies to challenging questions as impressive, bombproof and confident as they should be.
 
The survey to enable you to help determine aspects of the on-line video series is at: 
 
https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSfmgkdpSAcOC7nQc1tcieBeumubne60oKvhBIZrql1B1OvXcQ/viewform
 
It only takes a few minutes to complete.
 
Help us shape the series and you too can be a superhero!

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Being Ready For The Toughest Questions http://www.michaeldoddcommunications.com/being-ready-for-the-toughest-questions/ Tue, 11 Jun 2019 13:17:23 +0000 http://www.michaeldoddcommunications.com/?p=4881 Have you ever taken illegal drugs?
 
Don’t be too concerned… I only want you to think about how you might answer if challenged by someone else.
 
So, no confessions are required!
 

I’m posing this question because it’s suddenly become a big  topic which has been thrown at all the candidates vying to become the new British Prime Minister.

 

And I’m also posing it because – both inside and outside of politics – the drugs question underlines the point that when you’re seeking to move higher is just when blowtorch-on-the-belly questions often strike.

It can be the question at a promotions interview that you long feared.
 
It can be the question from the board which seems to jump out of nowhere.
 
Or it can be a media question.
 
That’s what’s just happened in British politics.
 
As a vast field of Conservative Party candidates has gathered to seek to take over from Theresa May, the would-be replacements have necessarily been preparing for a range of tricky Brexit questions.
 
Then suddenly it was all about drugs…

 

DRUG-FUELED ANSWERS FROM WOULD-BE LEADERS

 
You may or may not worry that Foreign Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, once drank a cannabis “lassi” while backpacking through India.

 

 

You may or may not worry about an old quote from former Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson, that’s been dug up from a comedy show where he said: “I think I was once given cocaine but I sneezed and so it did not go up my nose. In fact, I may have been doing icing sugar.”
 

 

 

And you may or may not worry about some of those other candidates who admitted they dabbled in cannabis, such as Andrea Leadsom.

 

 

You may or may not be concerned about issues surrounding Michael Gove because a former Justice Secretary admits he used cocaine on several occasions.

 

 

It was, he insists, a long time ago.
 
But Michael Gove has since been campaigning to stop other middle class people doing just what it turns out that he did.
 
It’s the allegation of hypocrisy about his campaigning against drugs not far from the time when he was trying them himself that’s causing the most ripples.
 
You can check out the interview Michael Gove has done with the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show where there are significant signs of nervousness amidst his answers.
 
These so-called “tells” suggest he might realise that the surprise question of drugs could sink his candidacy.
 


 

Given the challenging situation he has gotten himself into, there was one positive to Michael Gove’s answers in the interview.
 
To his credit, his message that he deeply regrets what he did does come across clearly.
 
But the fact that he’s speaking too quickly, blinking a lot, uttering big “ums” right at the start of a couple of critical answers seems to reflect an underlying uncertainty in the strength of his answers.
 
 

WHAT THE DRUGS
QUESTIONS MEAN FOR YOU

 
The vital communication point for everyone is that whatever is thrown at you – whether you’re guilty or totally innocent of the charge or somewhere in between – there’s merit in having your answers thought through clearly in advance and projecting confidence as you deliver them.
 

And there’re benefits in ensuring that your performance is in line with the image you need to project to help you towards the outcomes you’re seeking.

These are learnable skills.

One of the virtues of getting training on answering tough questions – before any trouble strikes – is that it focuses your attention, among other things, on what to avoid and what actions to take in your business and personal life in order to be well-placed to give credible, confident answers.

If you need to be ready for an expected or unexpected array of tough questions – from the media or anywhere else – you can check out the details of having one-to-one or group training for you and/or your team at:
 
http://www.michaeldoddcommunications.com/give-great-answers-to-tough-questions/
 
And for those needing media guidance, there’s free advice on dealing with the media on Disruptive.Live TV.

 

 

It’s in the form of a TV interview for the series on “Leadership Mastery For A New Era” conducted by Dr David Clive Price.
 
Among other things, I point out the key difference between being interviewed for broadcast – on TV and radio – and being questioned for the written word – for newspapers, magazines and news websites.
 
There’s also guidance on what to do if something goes terribly wrong for your company – as it once did with a fatal Virgin Train crash, masterfully handled by Sir Richard Branson in his dealings with journalists at the time.

 

 

If you or your organisation need to be ready to deal with bad news &/or convey good news in media interviews – and would benefit from the kind of training Sir Richard has clearly received – visit:
 
http://www.michaeldoddcommunications.com/media-master-classes/
 
 

COMPLETE THE SURVEY – AND HELP SAVE THE WORLD FROM BAD ANSWERS

 
 
To help me help you to save the world from bad answers, you also have an opportunity to shape the future!
 
As preparation continues for an online video series on “GREAT ANSWERS TO TOUGH QUESTIONS IN THE BUSINESS WORLD” with the production company, Fiveonabike, it would be great if you could give your thoughts on how the video series should best be developed.
 
Please give your answers on our short online survey at:
 
https://docs.google.com/…/1FAIpQLSfmgkdpSAcOC7nQc1…/viewform
 
Many thanks.
 
This is a case where all your answers are great answers!

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Lessons From The Theresa May Experiment: Don’t Let It All End In Tears…  http://www.michaeldoddcommunications.com/lessons-from-the-theresa-may-experiment-dont-let-it-all-end-in-tears/ Tue, 28 May 2019 16:45:56 +0000 http://www.michaeldoddcommunications.com/?p=4871 As wannabe future British Prime Ministers swarm to replace Theresa May, there are vital communications lessons for all amidst her teary departure from 10 Downing Street.

The overall headline message – which constitutes THERESA MAY COMMUNICATIONS LESSON ONE – is this:
 
Communications skills matter so much in politics, business and everywhere in today’s fast-moving digital world, if you need to enhance yours – or those of your team – don’t wait until it’s too late.
 
If you’re seeking a role in the spotlight – or any position requiring connecting with people – do yourself and everyone around you a favour and uplift your communication skills ahead of the pressures to come.
 
Alas Theresa May did not realise this in time.
 
Developing and refining your communications skills BEFORE you’re in that important position, is so much better than finding yourself hopelessly out of your depth when you get there.
 
And unlike Mrs May, if you hit a senior level and then realise you need enhanced communications skills, it’s far better to work on them late than never!
 
Margaret Thatcher delivered her speeches and soundbites so much better after some voice coaching in her early prime ministerial years at the instigation of someone who knew their importance – Sir Lawrence Olivier of Hamlet fame.

 

 
 
It helped Mrs Thatcher sound more authoritative by enabling her to lower her voice at the end of key sentences.
 
This is something I often help clients with having myself once overcome what’s known as the “Australian Upward Inflection Syndrome” which has – despite my ongoing efforts to stop it – spread to the northern hemisphere and beyond.

 

 

Theresa May needed much more than voice coaching – though this alone could have helped sharpen her delivery and prevented her from losing her voice at some critical moments.
 
But the good news is: Enhancing every aspect of communications is learnable for all.
 
Being able to get the right messages across – and being able to connect emotionally and effectively with your target audiences – is a vital part of leadership… and a critical part of many other roles in today’s workplace.
 
Too often Theresa May – despite an admirable doggedness and noble intentions – didn’t manage to get some of her most basic communication challenges right… let alone those with a high degree of difficulty like election campaigning in the frenetic multi-media world.
 
 

LEARN HOW TO SHOW NOT TELL

 
Theresa May’s communications skills spectacularly failed in her only prime ministerial general election campaign in 2017 when she earned the dubious title “The Maybot”.
 
The Guardian Sketch writer, John Grace, who came up with the term, found it had such resonance with the public he even wrote a Maybot book…

 

 
 
Mrs May managed to lose her Conservative Party’s parliamentary majority after endlessly repeating robotically the term “strong and stable government”.
 
And after governing since without a Conservative majority, the weaknesses of her communications armoury helped produce the very opposite of strong and stable government.
 
Suffering fifty – yes 50! – ministerial departures in just under two years suggests there was something going seriously wrong in the area of interpersonal communications skills.
 
No wonder her Chief Whip, Julian Smith, described Mrs May’s period in office as exhibiting the “worst cabinet ill-discipline in history”.
 
So THERESA MAY COMMUNICATIONS LESSON TWO is to get your point across by “showing, not telling”.
 
You can’t just repeat the mantra of something you see as desirable and expect people to buy into it.
 
You need to paint the right pictures in people’s minds and be able to demonstrate that you can deliver what you’re promising.
 
This is the “show” bit.
 
 

CONNECTING AT AN EMOTIONAL LEVEL

 
THERESA MAY COMMUNICATIONS LESSON THREE is that in order to persuade you have to connect with people at an emotional level.
 
This needed to be applied to Mrs May’s interaction with her fellow European Union leaders – and her own Conservative Party Members of Parliament – with whom she needed to negotiate over the still ongoing British exit from the EU.
 
Effective communication is a key part of negotiation.
 
You can’t negotiate a win-win outcome if you don’t understand what’s driving your negotiation partners and you don’t connect with them about what both they want and you are seeking.
 
Mrs May’s communication failure also occurred at an individual level with ordinary citizens.
 
She frequently managed to appear uncomfortable – underpinned by her awkward stance and alarming facial expressions – when she interacted with British voters and others.

 

 

And when it came to the biggest UK physical disaster of her time in office – the horrendous Grenfell Tower fire which killed and injured so many – she commendably visited the heroic emergency services teams but didn’t allow herself to mix with the shattered survivors in her initial visit to the disaster zone.
 
You can be reminded of the details of this set out in the Doddblog in June 2017 at:
 
http://www.michaeldoddcommunications.com/plan-prepare-and-practice-for-those-tough-crisis-questions/
 
Amongst Theresa May’s highest profile recent predecessors, both Margaret Thatcher and Tony Blair demonstrated an ability to understand and energise their party’s core supporters.
 
This played a key part in enabling both to win multiple elections – and, in fact, to win every general election each contested as party leader.
 
And in their very different ways and despite all their faults, both Margaret Thatcher and Tony Blair had a capacity to often, though less so at the very ends of their prime ministerial careers, connect emotionally with people when it was important to their political success.
 
 

 

CHILDREN OF THE CHURCH: THERESA AND BOB

 
Another timely contrast is between Theresa May and the former Australian Prime Minister, Bob Hawke, who sadly passed on this month.
 
Both were born to vicars and both made headlines when they became teary in public as leaders – which Bob Hawke did on a string of occasions.
 
But he was happy to embrace his emotions and was remarkably comfortable about it – and the Australian public overwhelmingly loved him for it and other things as he recorded the highest Australian prime ministerial popularity levels before or since.

 

 

By contrast when Mrs May was becoming (understandably) teary in her farewell speech outside 10 Downing Street she abruptly turned and disappeared.
 
 

 

I wouldn’t recommend anyone to seek to become teary in public, but learning to both contain and embrace emotions at crucial times when in the spotlight is something to aspire to – along with so many aspects of good communication.
 
 

FINANCE DIRECTORS CAN SURPRISE THEMSELVES

 
The fact that communications skills are learnable is often demonstrated by those who do not consider themselves naturals at the art.
 
For example, I work a lot with Finance Directors who are, by definition. highly gifted with numbers.
 
They are often not absolute naturals when it comes to communicating their knowledge and messages to others.
 
But they usually prove themselves to be excellent learners when taking on this challenge with a bit of guidance.
 
Finance Directors who are ambitious to move on to become Chief Executives, Managing Directors and Board Chairs can demonstrate that they have an enormous capacity to enhance their communications skills – whether it’s doing presentations, media interviews or giving great answers to tough questions.
 
What I find is that finance people particularly like formulae for good communications.
 
So when they’re shown structures for organising their thoughts and are introduced to techniques for delivering them effectively – time and again they surprise themselves.
 
Highly technically-focused clients can prove to be much the same when you can show them how to talk to the non-techie world without the baffling techie jargon!
 
 

HITTING YOUR POTENTIAL

 
If you need improved communication skills for your organisation, do get in touch to discuss a potential programme to hit the right spots.
 
To get you thinking, you might like to check out the possibilities for individuals to become inspirational business communicators in two six-hour sessions or three four-hour sessions at:
 
http://www.michaeldoddcommunications.com/become-that-inspirational-business-leader-in-12-hours/
 
If you’re seeking improved communications skills for your team, have a look here:
 
http://www.michaeldoddcommunications.com/programmes-to-transform-the-communications-skills-of-your-team/
 
And this book can always help:
 

 

As the British political classes play their part in choosing the next occupant of 10 Downing Street, for the good of everyone let’s hope this time the selectors take the communications skills of the contenders into account.
 
If you happen to be the bookmaker’s favourite to become the next Prime Minister, and you’re a charismatic and amusing headline grabber –  but with a tendency to say daft things at times – make sure you listen to the right people!

 

 

And if you recognise that better communications skills would take you to a higher level, feel free to call 44 (0) 7944 952835.
 
Keep smiling,
 
Michael
 
P.S.
 

INTERVIEW ABOUT AUSTRALIA, FROM LONDON AND QATAR – AND BROADCAST TO THE WORLD

 
 
One of the most challenging exercises that people doing media interviews face is what are called “Down The Line” interviews, where they’re answering questions from a presenter in a different location – maybe even in another country.
 
In such cases, you have to talk directly to the camera, which can be discombobulating.
 
But like other communications challenges, it is a learnable skill.
 
Here’s the latest attempt at it by a one-time political correspondent previously based in Canberra.
 
He was invited into the TV studio in The Shard in London to be interviewed about the latest Australian Federal election as the results were coming through this month – as there was no one available in Australia in a difficult time zone.
 
Such is the modern global world that the interviewee was answering questions from an interviewer based in Doha in Qatar, in a broadcast that went around the world through the Al Jazeera network.
 
It’s not perfect, but the interviewee did manage to keep looking straight at the camera amidst the goings on in the studio!

 

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Getting It Right In The Big Moment http://www.michaeldoddcommunications.com/getting-it-right-in-the-big-moment/ Tue, 14 May 2019 18:34:26 +0000 http://www.michaeldoddcommunications.com/?p=4865 The higher you soar in your career, the more you’ll find that big moments play a critical part in your progression.

What you say and how you say it at such times is often crucial to what happens for you next – for better or for worse.

These big moments can include:

* Job interviews and career appraisals

* Presentations to vital audiences – inside and outside your organisation

* Times when you’re cross-examined by members of the board 

* Media interviews

* Being grilled by a public inquiry 

* Needing to utter some words of acceptance when you win that major award.

In fact, speaking when you win that award can be particularly daunting – especially if it’s something as high profile as a “BAFTA” (British Academy of Film and Television Arts) Award and millions are watching on TV.

 

 

BEING PREPARED FOR THOSE BIG MOMENTS

There’s one key thing that separates those who do well with their big moment challenges and those who don’t.

It’s effective preparation.

This can even include what you choose to wear for your big moment in the spotlight – ideally something that reflects the real you.

At this year’s BAFTA Awards night, the exuberant host Graham Norton managed that – though his spotty tastes may not necessarily suit you!

 

 
And when it comes to what you say in such spotlight moments, whoever came up with the line “Proper Preparation Prevents Poor Performance” was right.

 

Being prepared for whatever can be thrown at you is so much more effective than the opposite – just saying whatever pops into your head at the time!

Here’s a video – recorded amidst the glorious springtime sunshine in the English county of Hertfordshire – to help encourage you to prepare for whatever can hit you or your organisation.

 

 

HOW TO PREPARE

The real question for most people is not so much whether to prepare, it’s HOW to prepare.

Often it’s a matter of preparing quickly under time pressure.

 

 

One of the things we sometimes do within communications-training sessions is to practice preparing under time constraints.

Until you’ve practiced it effectively, figuring out how to prepare can be such a challenging prospect that you feel as though you need prayer.

 

THE “AMEN” PREPARATION METHOD

So here’s a method of rapid preparation which is appropriately called the “AMEN” formula.

This enables you to focus on what you need to work through in advance – even if it’s just a little bit before your big moment.

This is what AMEN stands for:

A = Audience. Whether you’re preparing for a one-to-one conversation or a large gathering, always focus your preparations on what audience members require and what you can do to help them.

If you don’t know the composition or thinking of your audience then make some inquiries.

I send out “pre-session forms” to event organisers in order to get a sample of participants’ views ahead of the occasion.

M = Messages. Every big communication moment is an opportunity to get across one or more messages. So work out in advance your headline message – and any additional messages you wish to convey.

Ideally sum up each message in a single positive sentence such as: “The key to our future growth will be to sell more of our products globally”. 

E = Examples. Select illustrations – including “real life” stories, pertinent statistics or other examples that back up each of your messages. In this way you can paint the right pictures in the minds of your listeners.

N = Negatives. Write down all the negative questions that you need to consider. Don’t hold back here. Phrase the negative questions in the most ferocious way you can. Consider the best thing you can say regarding each negative.

If you prepare for the harshest conditions, when it comes to the reality of the big moment it will probably be easier than what you prepared for – and you should perform all the better as a result.

In communications-boosting training sessions you can be guided through each element of the AMEN formula in relation to whatever challenges you face.

And in the sessions you can be tested out on what you prepare, to ensure that you’re ready for whatever is thrown at you in that big moment.

Details about communications-boosting sessions for individuals are here:

 http://www.michaeldoddcommunications.com/become-that-inspirational-business-leader-in-12-hours/

Information about programmes for teams is here:

http://www.michaeldoddcommunications.com/programmes-to-transform-the-communications-skills-of-your-team/

 

A FINAL NOTE ABOUT NOTES

As far as possible, I seek to enable those I train to have their big moments without any preparation notes on display.

However, it’s often handy to have your key AMEN points written on a small card somewhere on you – so you can glance at it just beforehand if you need a reminder.

 But please keep it out of public sight if you can – as you don’t want to seem dependent on it.

The exception to this is if you have the acting talent and on-stage charm that Olivia Colman demonstrated when accepting her Leading Actress BAFTA Award.

She managed to flourish her notes in the spotlight in a way that got a series of laughs as she did.

 

 

Even if she didn’t know in advance that she was going to win, for all her dizziness on stage, Olivia Colman clearly had done the right thing and been (at least partially) prepared for her big moment.

If you don’t quite have Olivia Colman’s performance talents, and you’d like some help preparing for your next big moment, do get in touch.

And there’s still time to prepare if you’re in with a chance of having to make an acceptance speech after this year’s Eurovision Song Contest.

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Atrocious And Inspiring Answers – And An Opportunity For You http://www.michaeldoddcommunications.com/atrocious-and-inspiring-answers-and-an-opportunity-for-you/ Tue, 30 Apr 2019 16:59:53 +0000 http://www.michaeldoddcommunications.com/?p=4849 Today’s issue highlights some of the worst answers from a national leader under pressure so far this millennium!

 

 
 
And there are contrasting heroic answers from another national leader in similar circumstances which rate among the millennium’s best so far.
 
 

 
 
Both leaders have had to react to sudden appalling violent tragedies in their respective countries.
 
As heartfelt sympathy, support and good wishes continue to pour out for all those affected by the terrible events in Sri Lanka and New Zealand, their leaders’ contrasting approaches provide lessons on to how to respond to tough questions in severe adversity.
 
But first, let’s focus on turning bad answers to tough questions in your workplace into great ones.
 
I’m developing a new way to enhance the content, structure and delivery style of answers throughout the business world – and giving you an opportunity to influence its final form…
 
 
 

NEW VIDEO SERIES TO HELP
GREAT ANSWERS IN BUSINESS

 
It’s my ambition to save the business world – as far as is humanly possible – from atrocious answers to tough questions.
 
This includes answers to questions such as:
 
Why should anyone do business with you?
 
Will you resign?
 
How can you possibly justify a pay rise?
 
Do you really deserve this job?
 
How do you – and those around you – respond when you have to answer these kinds of questions now?
 
Here’s world-class professional speaker Frank Furness, on the left, role-playing how people can look uncomfortable and perform badly while being asked “blowtorch-on-the-belly” questions at a London book launch by a provocative character on the right.

 

 

When people are asked blowtorch-on-the-belly questions for real, they can feel, look and sound very uncomfortable indeed.
 
Careers can go up or down depending on how you, and your team, perform in such moments.
 
I’m creating the online video learning series “GREAT ANSWERS TO TOUGH QUESTIONS IN THE BUSINESS WORLD” to give everyone the tools to formulate impressive, bombproof and confident replies to challenging questions at work.
 
You can exert your influence on the development of this video series by answering some easy questions in the link to the short survey below.
 
If you’re happy to give your thoughts to help me and my colleagues at the production company Five On A Bike to hit the right spots with the new video series, it would be greatly appreciated.
 
(There’s even the prospect discounted offer for those who complete the survey!)
 

 

Please respond to the questions set out via the link below:

 

Google Market Research for

“TOUGH QUESTIONS”

Online Video Course

 

Many thanks for any thoughts you’d care to give.
 
Here’s to your great answers to the survey questions!
 
 

 

WORST ANSWERS OF THE MILLENNIUM
(SO FAR)

 
Hearts around the world have gone out to those affected by the horrific bomb attacks which have claimed over 250 lives in Sri Lanka.
 
 

 
 
It’s not easy to lead a country in the aftermath of such horrendous events.
 
BUT despite the obvious pressures, some of the answers given by Sir Lanka’s Prime Minister must rate as the worst of the millennium by a national leader (so far).
 
They underline why leaders – of nations, companies and other entities – need to prepare in good times for answering tough questions in bad times.
 
In a BBC interview after the bombings, Ranil Wickremesinghe, answered questions as if he were an out-of-touch bystander rather than a leader determined to protect his people and take action to stop a further repetition of the bombings.
 
His answers may have contained moments of commendable honesty.
 
But when you’re meant to be in charge, it’s hardly reassuring for a Prime Minister to merely say he was “out of the loop” when it came to intelligence warnings that the authorities knew about ahead of the deadly bombings.
 
At the moment, the most shocking parts of the interview are not available on the internet – including the point where the PM makes the cardinal mistake of seeking to respond to a question with a question.
 
But there is an extract available which is enough to show how un-reassuring it is when a leader responds to questions defensively without going on to say what he’s doing to tackle the urgent problems.
 
The interviewer is the BBC’s admirably persistent Clive Myrie.

 

 

The excerpt of the interview below begins with Mr Wickremesinghe responding to a question about the intelligence warnings which the Sri Lankan police received but which the PM says were not passed on to him.

 


 

 

BEST ANSWERS OF THE MILLENNIUM
(SO FAR)

 
And if you want to be inspired by some more responsible answers from another leader under similar pressures, have a look at the heroic approach of New Zealand’s Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, in the wake of the similarly terrible Christchurch shootings which left 50 people dead.

 

 

Here below is an interview – also conducted by Clive Myrie – where Ms Ardern’s answers indicate that she was totally within the loop and prepared to own the problem which she was not responsible for creating.
 
As a result, she gives a highly impressive set of answers.

 

 

While I’ve had the privilege of training many leaders on the art of giving great answers under pressure, alas I can’t claim the credit for guiding Jacinda Ardern on her approach.

But any guidance she’s received has clearly helped her reach great heights – in a way that provides an enlightened model for all.

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Writing Press Releases That Make A Media Splash For Your Business http://www.michaeldoddcommunications.com/writing-press-releases-that-make-a-media-splash-for-your-business/ Wed, 24 Apr 2019 10:18:17 +0000 http://www.michaeldoddcommunications.com/?p=4844 On the two-day international course I was running in Budapest, there was a there was a highly enthusiastic delegate from an exotic part of the former Soviet Union we shall call “Independent Country X”.
 
The course was on how to write effective press releases and give great answers in media interviews in order to help participants attract positive free media publicity across Eastern and Central Europe.
 
This was why it was being run on the banks of the Danube.

 

 
 
One of the things I do on such courses is to ask participants to send in advance examples of their recent press releases.
 
This is so we can examine what they’re doing right and what needs to be refined in order to maximise their prospects of making a bigger, better, bolder media splash.
 
If there were a prize for the worst press release contributed ahead of the Budapest course, alas, it would have gone to Independent Country X.
 
Of course, Australian professional speakers are far too warm, sensitive, caring and diplomatic to offer such a prize!
 
Besides, in this particular case the press release was so outstandingly bad a prize wasn’t necessary to make the point.
 
I came to believe that the key reason for the enthusiasm of the Independent Country X delegate was that he had an inkling of how dire his office’s press releases had been – and he was as eager as I was to solve the problem.
 

The awful Independent Country X press release had been aimed at publicising a forthcoming visit to the capital city by a group of British business representatives.
 
The crucial first line of the press release – which often determines whether the story will make it to the top of the news agenda or miss out altogether – would hardly have set newsrooms alight!
 
It said something like:
 
“Once again, a delegation of British businessmen will be coming to the capital of Independent Country X.”
 
It was the “once again” reference that was the killer.
 
The fact that the visit was being presented as merely a repetition of what had happened before made it all the less exciting and less newsworthy.
 
It became a bit of a running joke on the course, with visions of journalists crawling yawning from newsrooms saying things like: “Oh no, the British businessmen are coming yet again!”
 
 

MAKING YOUR PRESS RELEASES STAND OUT

 
While press releases must only contain truth, one of the tricks is to avoiding cluttering them with unnecessary background information at the start in a way which clouds the real story.
 
Fortunately, our conference room discussions uncovered a much more newsworthy angle which we focused on.
 
The British businesses were seeking to build trade relationships, develop partnerships and strike deals with fledgling Independent Country X businesses.
 
So all the participants on the course were able to see how – by focusing on these potential benefits – they could come up with a much more powerful press release with much lower chances of, as we say in journalistic world, being “left on the cutting room floor”.
 
Once you know what journalists need to fuel their stories and captivate their audiences, you can write press releases that command more attention – and win more column inches on the page, screen and airwaves with more captivating headlines.
 
This publicity can, in turn, lead to more inquiries and more sales.
 
Better press releases also trigger more invitations for a company representative to be interviewed where – if impressive answers are given to the journalists’ questions –  you can capture still more media space!
 
 

SHAPING THE ONLINE VIDEOS TO HELP

 
Speaking of interviews that result from good press releases, my high-tech colleagues and I are developing a new online video series to help you and your team give great answers to tough questions in all challenging business conversations.
 
This includes conversations with clients, prospects, investors, job selection panels, journalists and others.
 
Details of how you can influence the nature of the video series are at the foot of this column.
 
And in this quest there really is a prize for the best contribution!
 
 

AVOIDING JARGON AND BUREAUCRATIC-STYLE WRITING

 
When running sessions on “Position Your Business For Free Media Publicity”, I draw attention to some bad news and some good news regarding press releases.
 
The bad news is that newsrooms for TV, radio, newspapers and their associated online and multi-media empires are flooded with press releases – and they only have space for a limited amount of news.
 
The good news for your prospects is that most of these press releases are appallingly written.
 
They are routinely full of jargon, bureaucratic-style waffle and miss the real story – if indeed there is a real story to miss.
 
This means is that if you and your team learn how to write effective press releases then – when you’ve got a real story about your business – this can shine out in newsrooms ahead of all those terrible press releases.
 
To write an effective press release, you need to know what factors to highlight which will grab the attention of editors and journalists.
 
These include factors like topicality, economic impact and emotional impact.
 
When you know what to look for within your own organisation then you’re well on the way to writing press releases which will make it in the news.
 
 

PRESS RELEASES THAT WORK

 
Here’s what can happen with a press release that works.
 
The publishers of “Great Answers To Tough Questions At Work” – John Wiley And Sons – put out a colourful, well-crafted press release just before publication which attracted the interest of The Daily Express among others.

 

 
This led to the author being invited for interview in a London hotel lobby with the Express star columnist, Carole Ann Rice.

 

The resulting story – which concluded that “Every briefcase and bookshelf should have a copy” – happily remains online at: https://www.express.co.uk/comment/columnists/carole-ann-rice/688061/Happy-Mondays-Hindsight-provides-100-per-cent-clarity
 
It must be stressed that this resounding endorsement was the judgement of The Express, and was not something Wiley put in the press release or that I claimed in the interview.
 
Press releases – and the media interview responses they can generate – need to maintain a certain aura of objectivity.
 
Leave it to the columnists or editors to make their own judgements.
 
 

YOUR LOCAL NEWSPAPERS – ON LINE AND ON THE STREETS – ARE HUNGRY FOR GREAT PRESS RELEASES

 
One of the areas where you have enormous scope for free business publicity is through your local news media – on paper, on air and particularly on line.
 
This is, sadly, partly because local newsrooms have far fewer journalists than they used to.
 
It means that time-strapped journalists are more dependent on press releases to inspire stories to fill their pages than they used to when reporters were out and about more sniffing out more news for themselves.
 
So well-written press releases with a strong local angle are gold dust for local journalists.
 
If your company is based in Birmingham or Frankfurt or Sydney, and you develop a revolutionary new product or service, then where are the news outlets that will be most interested in running the story?
 
The answer is Birmingham, Frankfurt or Sydney respectively.
 
If this local aspect is highlighted in the headline and in that vital first sentence of the press release, then it can leap out as a priority story.
 
I live in the village of Bovingdon on the outskirts of London – served by the newspaper based in the bigger neighbouring town called the Hemel Hempstead Gazette.

So after the launch of “Great Answers To Tough Questions At Work”, we sent the Gazette a locally-angled press release about the book highlighting the fact that, by virtue of my address, I’m a local author (despite having being born 12,000 miles away!).
 
Local news media outlets love stories about local people.
 
So we also sent a photo of one of the high profile speakers at the launch, Carole Spiers, having her book signed by the local author.
 
The paper ran the story and the photo – and both remain on line at:
 
https://www.hemeltoday.co.uk/news/book-aims-to-help-people-cope-with-ever-tougher-questioning-in-workplace-1-7472163

Book aims to help people cope with ever tougher questioning in workplace

    Michael Dodd at the launch of his new book
 
When you get that mention in the local news, you can then magnify the impact by spreading the link through social media.
 
And once one outlet has run something the media, being somewhat incestuous, will often pick it up and spread the story further.
 
 

HOW YOU CAN WRITE YOUR OWN NEWS STORY

 
Another skill imparted in sessions on publicising your business equips you to go beyond a press release and pitch and write articles directly for the media yourself.
 
Here’s a “by-lined” article by my professional speaking colleague, Nicci Roscoe, who provides “Mind Medication” to help people manage pain, stress and anxiety and build confidence.
 
https://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-5877537/Im-constant-pain-Ive-learned-love-day-says-NICCI-ROSCOE.html
 

I’m in constant pain, but I’ve learned to love every day… and you can too, says chronic pain sufferer and health coach NICCI ROSCOE

 

Natural solution: Nicci refuses to rely on painkillers for her condition

 
Note how the article touches on emotion and highlights potential benefits for readers.
 
The Mail On Sunday couldn’t resist it.

The article remains online long after it first appeared on the streets in paper form.
 
 

GAIN THE SKILLS TO GENERATE FREE PUBLICITY FOR YOUR BUSINESS

 
Writing press releases and your own by-lined articles to boost publicity for your business is a learnable skill.
 
If you’re interested in discussing customised master class sessions for your team – or getting one-to-one guidance on generating free media publicity – then email michael@michaeldoddcommunications.com about your aspirations and requirements.
 
Feel free to identify the media outlets you’d like to target – and what your business is doing or planning that might interest their audiences.
 
I can then give you details of how we can boost your ability to supercharge your organisation’s publicity-generating skills to achieve your aims.
 
A well-written press release identifying a real and relevant story can make a splash in the trade press for your industry, the national media and, if it’s big enough, even the international media.
 
And if you identify a powerful local angle, you can most easily gain that first burst of free publicity for your business at the local level – whether in Birmingham, Frankfurt, Sydney, Hemel Hempstead… or even in Independent Country X.
 
Keep smiling,
 
Michael
 
P.S. Your Chance To Help Shape The New On Line Video Series:
 
GREAT ANSWERS TO TOUGH QUESTIONS IN THE BUSINESS WORLD
 

This series will provide online videos to equip you to give better answers… to help you
 
* Get promoted
* Inspire your team
* Impress prospects
* Reassure clients
* And give great answers in media interviews…
 
The series will consist of videos you can access online – and which will contain demonstration bad and good answers for you and your team to learn from.
 
There will be practical exercises designed to take your answers to a higher level and enhance your confidence.
 
The series will be made in conjunction with the video production company, Five on a Bike: www.fiveonabike.com

It will aim to help those who’ve never taken part in a face-to-face session on giving great answers – and to be a valuable refresher for those who have.
 
We will be conducting a quick and easy-to-complete survey to get wide-ranging views in order to make the series as helpful as it can possibly be.
 
If you’re interested in taking part in the survey to help shape the video series, please send a “count me in” email to york@fiveonabike.com and to michael@michaeldoddcommunications.com
 
Feel free to include any thoughts you have on anything you would particularly like to gain from the online video series to help you and your colleagues give great answers.
 
And please identify any particular question-answering challenge that you would like the video series to help you overcome.
 
A prize – an author-signed copy of “Great Answers To Tough Questions At Work” – will be sent to the respondent who makes the most useful suggestion!
 
Five on a Bike and I look forward to hearing from you.

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