Michael Dodd Communications http://www.michaeldoddcommunications.com Become An Inspirational Communicator Wed, 23 Jan 2019 17:07:35 +0000 en-GB hourly 1 Brilliant Business Communication – For Your Group http://www.michaeldoddcommunications.com/brilliant-business-communication-for-your-group/ Mon, 21 Jan 2019 18:52:49 +0000 http://www.michaeldoddcommunications.com/?p=4760 Announcing A New Communications-Boosting

Workshop For Business Leaders Groups


This post is for those who chair business leaders groups…

Wouldn’t it be brilliant if your business leaders group members could:

+ Unveil new offerings with the impact that Steve Jobs once did for Apple

+ Convey the case for their company’s mission with the effectiveness that Anita Roddick once did for The Body Shop



+ Deal with an unexpected business crisis while demonstrating the calmness and humanity that Richard Branson manages on behalf of Virgin when things go wrong.


The new workshop is called:


The workshop is a fun exciting experiential learning opportunity to test out the way business leaders come across verbally in a range of critical situations – and to guide them towards new levels of success.




Members get to enhance their individual communications style across a range of skillsets while picking up clues from master business communicators – past and present.

As they develop their own individual communications style, participants may end up being inspired by the way the legendary Apple boss, Steve Jobs, launched the iPhone back in 2007 – in a presentation which lives on in cyberspace long after his sad early departure from this world.




It’s worth noting how, in his distinctly un-traditional business attire of jeans and a black shirt, the Steve Jobs’ showmanship – and the odd spark of humour – helped make his case all the more powerful.

Did it work? How many people do you know with an iPhone in their pocket?

Your members may also be inspired by the conviction with which Anita Roddick conveyed the policies and aspirations of The Body Shop – that’s remembered long after her untimely exit from her mission to encourage business and consumers adopt a more environmentally-sound and animal-friendly approach. 

This Anita Roddick interview below starts with an answer that outlines her view on what success in business should – and should not – be about:



It’s worth noting how Anita Roddick shines a light on her own colourful back story and in doing so makes her point more engaging and memorable. 

And when it comes to dealing with a surprise turn of events, your members may be inspired by Richard Branson’s humane and caring response when he visited the site of a Virgin train crash in Cumbria after one person was killed and dozens injured.



It’s worth noting the way Richard Branson touches on emotions – while at the same time putting the tragic result in a wider perspective. Also note how in the appalling circumstances he does not fall into the trap of sounding too slick. His lines have clearly been thought out in advance, but come across as if he is thinking of them on the spot.

As members of your group work their way through the experiential learning exercises in the new workshop – and are critiqued along the way – they will become more aware of their own strengths and areas for improvement as communicators.

Participants will discover more about capitalising on their strong points and about turning their weaknesses into strengths.

And they’ll become ever more prepared for the real challenges they need to be ready to communicate about in their ongoing business life.



During the Brilliant Business Communication session, every participant puts forward – and then defends – a proposition on behalf of their company.

They can work on anything which their business will need to be communicating about to identifiable target audiences – internally or externally.

Their colleagues around the table perform the role of the notional audience and give feedback on their reactions.



Individual company challenges are identified on pre-session forms that are routinely sent to members ahead of all Michael Dodd Communications sessions.

Specific plans for the workshop are refined during the pre-session telephone conversation with the group chair after the forms have been returned by members.

Participants work through three stages during the session.

Stage 1: Announcement – where members do a mini-presentation on their chosen proposition… either to a notional large audience, a small group or a single crucial individual.

Stage 2:  Questions – where members respond to queries from their audience.

Stage 3: Challenge – where members need to react to a projected mock development where something goes very differently from how it was originally planned. It could be a project turning out way better than expected – bringing with it a problem of dealing with success, such as a shortage of supply. Or it could be something going terribly wrong. Whichever it is, participants need to communicate what they would do to deal with the surprise development.

At each stage performances are critiqued and guidance is given. 

Where time permits, after the critiques, there’s a chance to adjust to their performance and the opportunity do it again at a higher level.



There are two ways for chairs to deploy Brilliant Business Communication workshops:

1.    If your members have yet to do a communications-boosting workshop before this session, BBC can be run as an initial diagnostic tool. This will identify individually and collectively what are the member’s strengths and potential improvement points in their communications performances as they make a start on building on them. 

2.    If your members have already done one or more communications-boosting workshops, then this is a way to test out their enhanced skills and take them to a new high.

Exactly how the workshop should best be run with your group will partly depend on the number of participants and the nature of their various communications challenges.

If you’d like to discuss how a session could work best for your group, email: michael@michaeldoddcommunications.com or call: 44 (0) 7944 952835

The full range of communications-boosting workshops for business leaders groups is set out at: 


If your members can take a step towards becoming as calm and warm under pressure as Richard Branson… and as personally engaging as Anita Roddick… and as persuasive as Steve Jobs – while remaining true to themselves – it can only help their careers, their teams and their business results.

And they may be able to express their appreciation for the heroic efforts of the chair of their business leaders group EVEN more effectively than they do now!

What Style Of Communicator Will You Be In 2019 – And Beyond? http://www.michaeldoddcommunications.com/what-style-of-communicator-will-you-be-in-2019-and-beyond/ Tue, 01 Jan 2019 21:41:41 +0000 http://www.michaeldoddcommunications.com/?p=4742 When it comes to the communications approach you adopt during 2019 and beyond, would you like to come across in the style of:   * United States President Donald Trump?



* American Businessman Elon Musk?



* And ex-Manchester United Football Manager Jose Mourinho?



Or would you prefer to be projecting yourself more in the manner of:

* Former U.S. President Barack Obama and/or Former U.S. First Lady and best-selling auto-biographer, Michelle Obama?



* British Businessman Sir Richard Branson?



* And England Football Manager Gareth Southgate?



While you could choose between the general approach of these two contrasting groups, other communications styles are available.

Over the past year the two groups of personalities listed above provided a treasure chest of brilliant – and atrocious – communications performances to examine.

Links to some of the greatest and the worst of these are set out further into this New Year ezine.

Ultimately it serves you best if you communicate effectively in your own style – on the way to projecting the most ideal version of yourself.

Studying the communications styles of those you admire can help you achieve this aim.

And knowing who you don’t want to resemble can also assist the process.



But rather than model yourself on the exact approach of any individual communications icon, what’s more helpful is to seek to learn from the specific communications traits from all the ones you admire.

In this quest, it can be very useful to choose several adjectives and other describing terms which you would like to define the ideal image you wish to project.

Might they include any of the following: “thoughtful”, “exciting”, “caring”, “enthusiastic”…

It’s best to select what works best for you – and for the kind of people you most want to influence.

Your choice of describing terms may well be guided by the kind of work you do – or want to be doing in the future.

Chief executives may want to project that you are energetic and discerning with a clear vision.



Accountants may want to project that you are dedicated and organised with an eagle eye for detail.



Head teachers may want to project that you are learned and altruistic with high ambitions for your students.



The high profile communicators identified so far may give you more ideas – for better and for worse – as we look at some of their key 2018 performances.

You can then seek to reflect – or avoid – their traits when you’re giving future presentations; doing media interviews or answering questions from clients, prospects, colleagues or members of the public.

Moving in the direction of your chosen ideal communication traits is something that you can learn.

It’s something that planning, preparation and practise can help bring about as you seek to become the most impressive communicator you can be.



The relatively quiet period (for most) at the start of the new year can be a good time to contemplate the image you’d like to project for when things hot up.

If you need guidance along the way, you can check out the details of “Become That Inspirational Business Leader In 12 Hours” at:



And if your team needs a communications upgrade, there are details of tailor-made programmes that can be drawn up to achieve it here:




Details of a special offer on 90-minute individual communications-boosting coaching slots by telephone or Skype on Thursdays in January appears at the end of the post at:




As you contemplate your ideal communication style, let’s consider the two groupings identified above.

The Trump-Musk-Mourinho approach is characterised by frequent bouts of “say whatever pops into your head at the time”; recurring lapses into uncontrolled negative emotion and the treatment of challenging questioners and with defensiveness and aggression.

The contrasting Obama-Branson-Southgate styles are characterised by thinking out things in advance before saying them; keeping a firm reign on one’s own emotions while effectively touching the emotions of others and treating challenging questioners with respect and good humour.

Below are some clips of each to look over as we re-visit some of the communications low points – and some of the high points – from 2018.

  1. Donald Trump versus the allegedly “rude, terrible person” from CNN

It’s evident that neither the president or the reporter (whose job at press conferences is meant to be to ask questions, not make statements) cover themselves in glory in this ugly clash:



  1. Elon Musk versus himself – while demonstrating the downside of doing a live marijuana-fuelled broadcast

This is a reminder that taking any mild-altering drugs (alcohol included) before or during an important communications moment is never a good idea.



  1. Jose Mourinho versus the media – showing how not to respond to challenging questions

This interaction – back in August while he was still the Manager of Manchester United –  helps explain why he no longer holds that post.



Fortunately, 2018 provided some much better role models for us all.

  1. Barack Obama reminding us what it was like in the days of having a thoughtful, modest, calm communicator in charge in Washington

This was the former president’s first talk show interview since leaving office.  Watch for the endearing self-deprecating moments that we don’t experience much of from the White House these days.



  1. Michelle Obama presenting to London students

The author of “Becoming” shows how to inspire an audience with her own back story.



  1. Sir Richard Branson gets his points across

The boss of Virgin demonstrates how interview responses with CNN can be polite, considered and fascinating while expressing some hard-hitting thoughts.



  1. Gareth Southgate World Cup Interview

The England Football Manager avoids getting carried away after his team overcame a long-standing curse by winning its first ever World Cup penalty shoot-out against Columbia in Russia.



Hopefully you can spot some key differences between the approaches of the first three video clips compared with the final four.

The Trump-Musk-Mourinho approach is fine if your only aim is to capture headlines – though the headlines created from their outbursts aren’t always what they might like to see the next day.

If you share the Michael Dodd Communications view that “all publicity is not good publicity” then the choice between the two groupings is simple.



Hopefully the more thought-out, better controlled and more calmly implemented Obama-Branson-Southgate approach provides you with more desirable pickings when it comes to choosing the ideal traits for your communications future.

If your organisation’s 2019 conference or away day would be enhanced by a keynote or master class on “Becoming An Inspirational Communicator” or “Giving Great Answers To Tough Questions”, check out the details on:



At its heart, excellent communications is about getting messages across – powerfully, effectively and memorably – in your own distinctive style.

Here’s to the success of your powerful, effective and memorable individually-styled messages throughout the next 12 months – for a great all-round 2019.

Spooky Christmas Tales – With Lessons For All http://www.michaeldoddcommunications.com/spooky-christmas-tales-with-lessons-for-all/ Mon, 17 Dec 2018 11:21:17 +0000 http://www.michaeldoddcommunications.com/?p=4728 Christmas is a time of festivities, good cheer and – sometimes – of scary stories.

It’s also a time of amazing special offers – and there’s one of those at the foot of this issue which applies to you… wherever you are in the world.

The scary story element dates back at least to the Christmas of 1843. 

This was when journalist-turned-novelist Charles Dickens, first published what he labelled as “a ghost story of Christmas”.

It was “A Christmas Carol” – that spooky story about an elderly miser called Ebenezer Scrooge who is visited by a series of ghosts.

After appearances by the Spirit of Christmas Past, the Spirit of Christmas Present and the Spirit of Christmas Yet to Come, Scrooge transforms into a kinder, gentler human being.

Here’s what the first edition looked like.



Please make the most of the above left image as it also serves as your de facto Michael Dodd Communications electronic 2018 Christmas card!

It illustrates Scrooge’s happy memories of dancing at Mr Fezzlewig’s ball – which could perhaps be seen as the “Strictly Come Dancing” event of its day.

Like “Strictly”, “A Christmas Carol” proved instantly popular.

It was published on 19 December 1843. The first edition had sold out by Christmas Eve. 

6,000 copies were bought in its first week in print and 15,000 in its first year. 

By the end of 1844 thirteen editions had been released! 

Scary stories – from which important lessons can be drawn – are especially popular around Christmas.

So here’s a real pre-Christmas scary story from 2018 that readers of The Mail On Sunday newspaper have just encountered. 



This spine-chilling tale of our time concerns a man who you might think would be a master at handling the media.

He’s the business tycoon, Sir Martin Sorrell – the one-time Chief Executive of the world’s largest advertising agency, WPP.

He was forced out after an investigation into allegations of personal misconduct.



Sir Martin now heads a much smaller and less prominent advertising company, S4 Capital.

He did a pre-Christmas interview with The Mail On Sunday and handled it appallingly – far worse than you might expect from a highly experienced businessman used to dealing with the media.

Here’s the headline that resulted in the online section of The Mail:


From Sir Martin’s perspective this was not story to bring any Christmas cheer.

If you did a media interview and this was the result, you’d find it pretty spooky.

But one of the reasons it’s turned out as it has is because, throughout his interview with the newspaper, Sir Martin gives atrocious unco-operative non-answers to predictable probing questions. 

Within the interview are all the clues you need to draw important lessons about why it’s important to give great answers tough questions – and why ducking them doesn’t work.

Sir Martin is quoted by the Mail as starting the interview as saying: “There won’t be any tough questions – I won’t answer any tough questions.”

He was half wrong and half right with this prediction.
Sir Martin was completely right in forecasting that he would refuse to answer tough questions. He did just that.
He was completely wrong in asserting that there wouldn’t actually be any tough questions. There were. Lots of them!
And some of these tough questions were about Sir Martin’s alleged relations with a prostitute who he purportedly sought to pay for as a company expense. (Suggestion: In case you need guidance on this concept, it is never a good idea!)
His non-answers on these questions effectively invite readers to draw their own adverse conclusions on the real truth of the matter.




Revealing the methodology for competently dealing with the media – and to communicate more inspirationally – is something that can be done in conference speeches.



There’s more on speaking at your conference at: http://www.michaeldoddcommunications.com/speaking-at-your-event/

Media-handIing advice and guidance on becoming more inspirational communicators is also at the heart of master classes and one-to-one training sessions on Giving Great Answers To Tough Media Questions.
There’s more about learning to interact effectively with the media at: 
But here’s a tip for Sir Martin and anyone else inclined to go into a media interview without being prepared to deal with questions on the contentious issues that journalists want to explore on behalf of their audiences. 
NEVER, NEVER, NEVER start a media interview by telling journalists they are not to ask tough questions!
Journalists will typically take that as a challenge – and clearly the Mail reporter, William Turvill, did just that.



The non-answers given by Sir Martin include: “That’s not a question I’m going to answer one way or the other” and “That’s not a question I’m going to dignify with an answer.”



The rule that I’ve discovered from studying human media interview interactions in both hemispheres is that when there’s a question you can’t or won’t answer, YOU NEED TO SAY WHY YOU WON’T OR CAN’T ANSWER.
When you don’t give this explanation, you’re unlikely to satisfy your questioner and any wider audience such those Mail on Sunday readers.
If you doubt the truth of this, read at least the start of the Mail article and ask yourself: What do these non-answers do for Sir Martin’s image?
In line with the Spirit of Christmas Present, a free copy of “Great Answers To Tough Questions At Work” – signed by the author himself – will be provided for Sir Martin’s Christmas stocking if he comes forward to claim it. (Lines are open now on 44 (0) 7944 952835.)
And in keeping with the Spirit of Christmas, you can read the first chapter of “Great Answers To Tough Questions At Work” free here:


You can check out the Mail “interview” with Sir Martin Sorrell – and be very spooked as you read it – at:
The article should incite you to take steps to deal with tough questions thrown at you – by the media or anyone else – so much better than Sir Martin has.

Here’s the news of a festive special offer that can help you on this and any other communications challenges you or your team may have….



The Late-December-January period is a time when many organisations quieten – if you’re not manufacturing mince pies or providing software support for Christmas elves etc.

So for some in business it can be an ideal time to improve your individual communications performance skills. 

In line with this, there’s a special festive offer for one-to-one guidance sessions on the telephone or Skype to take place on Thursdays over this period.

These communications coaching sessions by phone or Skype are available to you, whoever and wherever you are – even if you’re calling from the South Pole…



…In fact the sessions are open to you even if you’re phoning in from the North Pole.



Details of your special seasonal offer are at the foot of this publication. Ho ho ho.



So here’s to you having a splendid festive period – far less troubled than it was for Ebenezer Scrooge and has been for Sir Martin Sorrell.

It’s been heartening to work with so many readers of this publication during 2018 – from Singapore to Sheffield, from Leeds to London and beyond.

Wishing you a ripsnorting 2019 and to hoping to see you in it along the way. 

Keep smiling,





Communication-boosting sessions are typically conducted face-to-face – with conference audiences, in smaller master class groups or individually. 

But during the Christmas-New Year period it may be more practical and economical for you to boost your communications skills one-to-one over the phone or by Skype – at least in the first instance. 

So this is an opportunity for 90-minute Thursday telephone or Skype coaching sessions.

These sessions are available from Thursday 20 December 2018 to Thursday 31 January 2019. 

You can book the sessions to focus on any of the following:

·      Giving Great Answers To Your Tough Questions – ones that you’re facing now from clients, prospects, officials and others – or need to be ready for amidst the challenges of the 2019 Brexit year and/or other uncertainties
·      Your Elevator Pitch – planning and refining how to succinctly get across what you and/or what your organisation have to offer – at networking events, business meetings and in one-to-one professional conversations
·      Getting Your Message Across In 60 Seconds – Conveying a key point to those who are tight for time
·      Media Interviews – Being able to capitalise on tough questions, softer questions and tricky questions asked by journalists… way better than Sir Martin Sorrell recently managed
·      Other Areas Of Communications Challenge – Whatever communications challenge you face now or need to be ready for in the future.
Generally, it’s ideal to have two sessions on any one of these subject areas – booked a week apart in order to:

+ Build on the techniques imparted in the first session 

+ Enable you time to practise your new approach between the sessions and thereby achieve more impressive improvements

+ Embed your learning by enhancing your performance level leading up to and throughout the second session.

Despite these advantages of having two sessions, you can book a single session if you wish – to receive some initial guidance on tackling your communications challenge.

Normally a coaching programme on these challenges and the additional email support you receive cost several hundred pounds.

But Thursday one-to-one sessions until the end of January 2019 are at the special seasonal rate of £87 for one.

And the investment cost is £125 for two Thursday sessions booked as a single order together – to encourage you to benefit from the improvements you make by doing both sessions on successive Thursdays.

Available Thursday slots are at: 

0900, 1100 and 1500 Greenwich Mean Time (that’s London time), on each Thursday as follows:

Thursday 20 December 2018

Thursday 27 December 2018

Thursday 3 January 2019

Thursday 10 January 2019

Thursday 17 January 2019

Thursday 24 January 2019 

Thursday 31 January 2019 

If you’re interested, please send a range of Thursday timeslots that work for you or team members, and identify how many slots you would like. 

I will then confirm whether those slots are still available. 

Assuming they are, a draft agreement, pre-session form to identify details of your challenge and invoice are emailed to you ahead advance payment. 

And away we’ll go to take you and/or your team members to a higher performance level for 2019 and beyond! 

If you’re interested in securing slots or discussing them, please email: michael@michaeldoddcommunications.com or call 44 (0) 7944 952835.

Here’s to your upgraded 2019 performance levels!

And here’s to the elevated image and economic benefits enhanced communication performances bring to you and your organisation

What To Say In Fast-Changing Times – It’s Getting Harder!!! http://www.michaeldoddcommunications.com/what-to-say-in-fast-changing-times-its-getting-harder/ Mon, 03 Dec 2018 19:01:29 +0000 http://www.michaeldoddcommunications.com/?p=4724 It’s one of the biggest communications challenges of our time…
And it’s potentially trickier now than ever before…
I’m talking about deciding what to say on behalf of your organisation about its future – in current times of massive uncertainty.
The ongoing acceleration of change – mixed with current unpredictabilities – has taken the challenge of communicating about your organisation’s plans to new levels of difficulty.
If you doubt this, try asking yourself:
Is what you might to say about your future intentions able to stand the test of time however things pan out with Britain’s chaotic, seemingly never-ending departure from the European Union – exacerbated by the chaotic, seemingly never-ending departure of members of Prime Minister Theresa May’s government?

Or is what you say about the future of your organisation’s business development going to have to be adjusted because of the next outrageous thing uttered, dreamed up or tweeted by US President Donald Trump?


Is what you might say about any future dealings with the Asia-Pacific region going to have to change depending on who might suddenly become the next Prime Minister of Australia – at a time when who is in charge in my one-time home of Canberra switches at bewildering rates?
(If you’re having trouble keeping up, Scott Morrison has been Australian Prime Minister for just over three months now – a very long time in contemporary Canberra politics!)


Amidst such an ever-changing whirl, how you portray your vision for the future of your organisation, your team or yourself is harder than it might have been in more stable times.
So it’s vital to get the content of your communications right – and look, sound and feel right as you do so.
How you answer tough questions about future plans amidst today’s the uncertainties is also more challenging than it used to be.
Before giving you some guidance, let’s see how bad it can look when someone gets their communications completely wrong in a rapidly moving world…



If you’ve been studying the highly unstable current British political scene, you might think there’s nothing harder than answering questions that relate to Brexit.
But Immigration Minister Caroline Nokes, from the Home Office, has shown that answering questions about troubled immigrant mothers living with their young children in rat-infested accommodation can be made even more difficult.


The parliamentary chair of Westminster’s Home Affairs Select Committee, Yvette Cooper, wanted to know where exactly was this accommodation which had reportedly housed seven immigrant mothers and their children amidst the rodents.


In the circumstances it was a fairly obvious question, but Caroline Nokes made the mistake of not being ready for it.
You can check out the first part of the drama here – and watch closely for the not-so-impressive admission from Ms Nokes that “Telepathy is not my first skill.”



And with Caroline Nokes being unable to answer questions about where the rat-infested accommodation was located, Yvette Cooper took the initiative to find out behind-the-scenes for herself.
This is what happened a short time later in the second part of the drama as Ms Cooper questioned the hapless minister about why she and her officials didn’t come up with the not-so-mysterious information themselves.
Watch for the reaction from Ms Stokes when told that she didn’t need telepathy – and that all she needed was a telephone!


One of the key things when answering questions in a fast-moving situation, is to be very clear on the underlying message you are sending.
Remember this message is not just governed by what you say, but also by how you sound and look as you say it.
Ask yourself, what message is Caroline Nokes really sending when she says in regard to the information uncovered by Yvette Cooper: “I will be very pleased to receive it.”
Is Ms Nokes looking and sounding pleased to you?
Is she looking and sounding like a minister in charge of her officials and on top of things?
Is she making herself a prime candidate to be leaving Mrs May’s government against her will?


Whether the uncertain environment in which we have to communicate is clouded by rats, Brexit, Donald Trump or something else, here’s some guidance:

  1. The more fast-moving the situation, the more important it is to get your facts and think things through before entering the lion’s den of a question session. Whether you’re communicating to TV cameras or customers or potential clients or your own team, you need to plan the wording of your pronouncements  so carefully in advance that you won’t be caught out by changing circumstances. The same applies to your proposed answers to questions on the topic – something we always focus on in “Give Great Answers To Tough Questions” master class sessions, and then thoroughly test you out on so you are as close to bombproof as possible.


  1. Be truthful, and where you don’t know something important, spell out with a credible reason WHY you don’t know it. When your audience members hear a convincing reason they’ll be much more sympathetic to what you say next.


  1. Make sure you do add something next. An “I don’t know because of X” can be a safe start amidst questioning by people worried about the future in a choppy situation. But if your response is left dangling there, it’s far from reassuring.


  1. You need to fill the vacuum with as much precision as you can during shifting circumstances. You can add things such as what you can authoritatively say on the topic raised, reveal when you expect to be able to say more and what you are doing to find out more detailed information on the exact question about which you’re being asked.


  1. Craft a powerful message you need to get across in challenging times. For example, if asked about how successful your organisation will be in five years’ time amidst the uncertainties, you might prepare a message about how confident you are about the future, why you have that degree of confidence, and spell out what is being done to maximise the chances of your organisation achieving that glorious future you are predicting for 2023. Make sure you include any important caveats with your predictions such as “IF market growth continues at the current pace, then predicted sales figures should be reached” etc. so your credibility is safeguarded if the underlying market conditions change.


  1. Reinforce your message with one or more illustrations to underline its credibility. Give specific figures to support your message and/or give an example to back-up your point in a way that paints a vivid picture in the minds of your audience.



A high level of change and uncertainty is a fact of modern life and amidst Brexit and Donald Trump’s erratic performances it’s something which increases the need to communicate effectively and carefully.

Whether you need to spell out your plans and forecasts for 2019 or answer questions about your organisation’s long-term future, it’s vital to plan, prepare and practise for the situation.
If you’re struggling with it, or you want to stretch to an even higher level in your communications, help is potentially available – one-to-one, in master classes with small groups and/or in a keynote speech at your conference.
There’s more on one-to-one help on becoming an inspirational business communicator here:
There are details about communications-boosting programmes for your team at: 

Here’s where you can check out the options for booking a communications-enhancing keynote speech at your event:


And if you’d like information about rare open sessions in “Give Great Answers To Tough Questions” and “Your Message In 60 Seconds” on Wednesday 20 February 2019 in Central London, you can request the details by emailing:

I am bravely predicting that the pathway to the final Brexit outcome will still be full of twists and turns in the near future and beyond.

I am confidently forecasting that, barring unforeseen political developments, Donald Trump will remain verbally disruptive throughout the whole of 2019.



But I am also predicting, amidst all the uncertainty, that you and your team will shine out to those around you next year and beyond if you train for it, plan for it, prepare for it and practise for it.

If you do this properly you can get your messages across despite the twists and turns of Brexit, despite any mindless outbursts by Donald Trump and despite any infestations of rats!

A Communications Fairy-Tale For Our Techy Times http://www.michaeldoddcommunications.com/a-communications-fairy-tale-for-our-techy-times/ Mon, 19 Nov 2018 19:17:41 +0000 http://www.michaeldoddcommunications.com/?p=4719 Once upon a time there was a young boy who professed his desire to become a great creator.

When challenged to define “great” he said: “I want to create things that the whole world will see – and react to on a deeply emotional level.”
Warming to his topic he added: “I want to create in a way that will make them scream and cry and howl in pain and anger.”
Before he could add anything more positive, there was a lightning flash and his fairy godmother appeared.

She instantly granted his wish, as fairy godmothers do.
Now the young man designs slides for technology companies that everyone who speaks for the firm must use in their presentations – or thinks they have to use.
His “creative” slides typically look like this:

mage result for horrendous bad powerpoint slide presentation


Can you see why they make people scream and cry and howl in pain and anger?
And if that’s not enough to make you scream, cry and howl, then consider how these sorts of slides are typically used in company presentations.
The people who companies want to influence are gathered in a big room.
And to minimise the chances of any slides being properly understood, someone stands next to them mumbles their way through a script while the audience struggles to absorb any meaning.
When this happens, no one lives happily ever after.


Alas, the person presenting the slides is often doing so on matters where they don’t have the same outlook or experience or aims as the person who made the slides.
It’s a bit like being told the details of someone’s camel-riding holiday in India …

…while being shown the holiday snaps from another tourist who was visiting Pisa.


When the slides and the verbal component don’t fit together, real communication doesn’t happen – and potential customers won’t buy in.
If you haven’t been on the receiving end of this kind of presentation experience, then you’re truly blessed.
If you have been subjected to it, please join the campaign to stop this form of cruel and unusual punishment being inflicted on innocent audiences.
And if you’re in a company which fosters this kind of bad slide experience, then give me a call, make a full confession and discuss a plan for your rehabilitation: 44 (0) 7944 952835.
The good news is that the tendency to impose irrelevant, indecipherable slides on innocent audience members is curable.
I administer the cure regularly.
Ideally the cure takes place over a couple of uplifting training days involving lots of fun-filled exercises, inspiring planning and confidence-enhancing practise runs.
When you’ve received the cure, the effect it has on your content, structure, delivery style – and use of slides – will last a lifetime.
And you and your audiences will look forward to your next presentation – instead of dreading it!


My leading cure for presenting with bad slides is a process called “Zero-Based Slide Presentations”.
It was inspired by the accountancy concept called “Zero-Based Budgeting”.
(It may come as a shock that an accountancy concept can inspire anything. But it can – just as many accountants I’ve worked with have learned how to inspire!)
In Zero-Based Budgeting, instead of starting with all the figures from last year’s budget and then adjusting them up and down for the coming year, you do something drastically different.


You start from a base of allocating zero to every department and function and then look at how much of the budget is required to achieve the desired outcomes in each area.
It means that every financial allocation must earn its place on merit, rather than on the history of previous spending.
This helps you prioritise and focus on what you really need to do to get the correct outcomes.
Similarly, with Zero-Based Slide Presentations you don’t start with the slides you used last time.
Instead you start with a base of zero slides.
Next you work out the messages you want to get across and the examples or figures or stories you choose to illustrate them.
Only then do you decide whether you need any slides to help convey these points.
Sometimes it’s best to stick with zero slides!
Maybe you can use just one killer slide.


On some occasions it might be best to use a few slides – preferably ones which contain dramatic images or easy-to-follow graphs.
The Zero-Based Slide Presentations concept is part of something else I’ve invented to solve a wide range of communication challenges.
This is called “Silicon-Standard Communication”.



It’s about ensuring that the amazing technological developments brought about by the silicon chip are explained with standards as impressive as the products themselves!
Silicon-Standard Communication springs from three indisputable facts of our time:

  1. That modern technology – and the companies that develop it – provide amazing products and services


  1. That companies and their people who provide these amazing products and services often struggle to communicate what they need to convey about them


  1. That communicating effectively about amazing products and services in the age of the silicon chip is something that smart techy people and smart numbers people can do – providing they receive the right guidance.

Silicon-Standard Communication helps to convey an understanding of the benefits of vital products and services originally developed in Silicon Valley in California…


Silicon-Standard Communication helps explain things made in so-called “Silicon Glen” in Scotland…


Silicon-Standard Communication spreads understanding of products and services developed in the high-tech zone near the so-called “Silicon Roundabout” in London.


In fact, Silicon-Standard Communication will help you get across the essential messages about new products and services that have been developed wherever you are.
High-tech products and services shine out more clearly and desirably when Silicon-Standard Communication is deployed to explain their benefits to clients and prospects everywhere.
An essential part of all Silicon-Standard Communication programmes, is for techy people to discover the benefits of avoiding jargon words that their audiences often don’t have a clue about.
Instead they learn to explain what they mean in simple understandable words that shoppers in your local supermarket can grasp.

Through Silicon-Standard Communication, techy people are equipped to tell stories, deploy figures (in very limited easy-to-absorb quantities) and explain real-life examples in order to get across what they mean more powerfully, effectively and persuasively.
This is instead of mumbling through a deck of slides created by someone like that young creative man who produced slides that made people scream and cry and howl in pain and anger.
Of course, I made up the story about the creative young man and the fairy godmother.
The clue – which you may have spotted – was in the use of the fairytale introduction words “Once Upon A Time”.
But Zero-Based Slide Presentations are real.
And Silicon-Standard Communication is real.
Your team can make a start on becoming inspirational communicators by grasping the essentials of “Silicon-Standard Communication” in a keynote speech at your conference.
This will help them communicate more effectively to techy types who know their silicon chips.



And it will show them how to get their message across to those not-so-techy types more attracted to potato chips.

Silicon-Standard Communication master classes can be run for groups techy people or numbers-focused people in your office.
And there are Silicon-Standard Communication one-to-one sessions for individuals who need to boost their communications skills in order to progress faster in the company.
If you’d like to know more about Silicon-Standard Communication, email:  michael@michaeldoddcommcommunications.com
In this way, you can find out how Silicon-Standard Communication can help your organisation to get across your messages in a way that’s in line with the quality of your goods or services.
This will help those who need to share your company’s message – and those who receive it – to live more happily ever after.

Avoiding Tough Questions Can Get You Fired http://www.michaeldoddcommunications.com/avoiding-tough-questions-can-get-you-fired/ Mon, 12 Nov 2018 18:44:03 +0000 http://www.michaeldoddcommunications.com/?p=4709 Giving great answers to tough questions at work really, really, really matters for your career and your business.

There are serious consequences for avoiding giving an answer – especially if the non-answer takes place in the glare of the media spotlight.

More proof of this has been provided with the latest turn for the worse for the British house building boss, Jeff Fairburn.

You may remember this column drawing attention to Mr Fairburn’s appalling media performance – or non-performance – a few weeks ago.

Mr Fairburn was the Chief Executive Officer of the British housebuilder, Persimmon, who walked out of a BBC interview when asked questions about his highly contentious £75-million bonus.

The key word in this last sentence is the word “was”. 

Mr Fairburn will no longer remain in his job as CEO of Persimmon, so make the most of his smiling face here in this publicity picture next to the company flags and parading the firm’s branded hard hat.

After being asked to leave by the company chairman, Mr Fairburn’s quote for the press release was: “It is clearly now in the best interests of Persimmon that I should step down.”

And what’s REALLY significant is that it wasn’t so much his unwise acceptance of the £75-million bonus that caused his removal.

It was Mr Fairburn’s refusal to answer questions about it that triggered his departure!



Take a close look at the timing.

The bonus was awarded to Mr Fairburn back in April 2018 as a result of an ill-fated remuneration scheme for which no limit had been set.

It was subsequently labelled excessive by shareholders and criticised by charities, politicians, Persimmon customers and others.

Both the Church of England and the Methodist Church – which have shares in Persimmon – expressed deep dismay over the size of the incentive scheme.

This was in line with the criticism of excessive pay for bosses by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby.



But in the immediate aftermath of the controversy, Jeff Fairburn managed to hang on to his job.

What has now ended Mr Fairburn’s time at the top was his misguided approach to the media six months later in October 2018.

It was the bad publicity surrounding his refusal to answer questions  about the bonus in a BBC interview and his on-camera walk-out at the opening of a new brick factory that brought things to a conclusion.



Did the refusal to answer questions stop the adverse criticism of the massive bonus from continuing?

Quite the opposite. It fuelled the flames.



Learning points for dealings with questioners:

1. Refusing to answer questions about a big issue won’t make it away.

2. When there are big questions for you to tackle, you need to make sure you sort out your thoughts in advance so that you can give a proper response 

3. If for any reason you can’t talk about something in particular, then at the start of your response give an excellent reason WHY you can’t discuss it

4. Once you’ve given a credible reason for not answering, go on to say the most useful thing you’re in a position to say to help the questioner and any wider audience.

These are the kind of things that we help you work on in media training sessions.

There’s more about getting match-fit for media interviews here:

Often those who’ve had some initial training book an additional media-boosting session when they need to focus on a new issue that has arisen – or one they know will come up in the future.



Persimmon said Mr Fairburn was departing as Chief Executive Officer by “mutual agreement and at the request of the company”.

It said the issue was having a “negative impact” on the firm’s reputation and on “Jeff’s ability to continue in his role”.

But the company didn’t reach this conclusion when the bonus caused the initial highly predictable fuss.

It was the interview walk out which re-ignited the issue.

If you need a reminder of just how badly Mr Fairburn handled the media interview, click here:



Another important media lesson demonstrated by Persimmon is the importance of thinking things through on how something will play in the media and with the general public BEFORE making an important decision.

Here’s a book that can help you work out the answers in advance.

Click on the image

To find out about a keynote speech at your conference on dealing effectively with the media and communicating in a more inspirational way, click here:

Meanwhile Jeff Fairburn is hardly well-placed now to continue his career as a CEO elsewhere.

It seems unlikely that other companies will be rushing to offer him a new job.

But don’t feel too sorry for him.

He still gets to keep that ill-fated bonus.

And he now has time to do the media training he should have had earlier.

Being Ready For That Most Predictable Question http://www.michaeldoddcommunications.com/being-ready-for-that-most-predictable-question/ Tue, 06 Nov 2018 09:14:33 +0000 http://www.michaeldoddcommunications.com/?p=4705 There’s an endless number of tough professional questions out there that at some stage you may be required to answer.
These can range from:

  • Why don’t you resign as things went so badly on this project?

through to:

  • Why should we offer you this position when we have so many better qualified candidates?

Hopefully you won’t face these questions too often, though I can help if you have an urgent need to deal with them.
But there’s one question which is bound to come up far more frequently than these ones.
It’s a question many find amazingly difficult to answer well.
It’s the question some people actually dread?
It’s the “WHAT DO YOU DO?” question.

Equally challenging for others is the related question: “WHAT DOES YOUR ORGANISATION DO?”
Whatever you do – and whatever your organisation does – the questions come up so often that everyone needs to be ready for them.
If you stumble through your answer and struggle to think of something useful every time you’re asked, it won’t bode well for your career – or your organisation.
There are two open sessions on dealing with this challenge coming up on Wednesday 20 February 2019 in London.
These – and other options for helping you give a great answer to the “What do you do?” and related questions – are outlined towards the end.
But first here’s some early guidance.


As with all tough questions, being ready to deliver a great answer to the “What do you do?” enquiry is a learnable skill.
Some key points:

  1. What most people typically want to know when asking the question is: What can you or your organisation potentially do for me? So you need to put the “What’s In It For Me Factor” at the heart of your answer and indicate how you or your product or service helps people


  1. Focus less on the detailed features of the products or services you provide, but instead make clear the benefits. (So if you help people give great answers to the “What do you do?” question, you could emphasise how their career and business will progress so much more smoothly if they can effectively show how splendidly useful they can be every time they’re at a business meeting.)


  1. Have a range of simple pre-prepared examples that you can choose from in order to show the questioner the successful outcome of what you do – so they can effectively picture the results in their mind.

If your answer fascinates or enthuses the enquirer, it may be just the start of a longer conversation – which could end up leading to a sales talk appointment, a business deal or a fantastic new opportunity.
But to make this happen, your initial answer needs to be powerful and succinct.
This is why it’s often referred to as an “elevator pitch” – which enables you to deliver your answer that sticks in the time it takes in the lift to go from one level to another.
But do beware the term “pitch” in this context.
Most people don’t want to be “pitched at” when their involved in a first-time encounter with you in an elevator or elsewhere.
What they do want is an interesting, useful and memorable answer which can enable them – if they have the need now or in the future – to follow up and ask you more.

So rather than actually “pitching” in the elevator, it’s better to focus on getting across a potentially useful MESSAGE.


When I work on helping individuals, small groups and large audiences on this challenge, I call sessions on this subject “Your Message In 60 Seconds”.


This message they work on doesn’t have to apply to the “What do you do?” question – though it can.
What it does apply to is all those situations where you need to get across a point in a short space of time – a challenge that occurs evermore frequently in our fast-paced world.
If you plan, prepare and practise for it, it’s amazing how you can get across an effective, powerful and memorable message in just 60 seconds.
One organisation for business leaders asked me to make a video for their members about “Your Message In 60 Seconds”.
And they helpfully ran a timer on screen as I did it to help show that it really can be done.
Watch the results here:


Sessions on “Your Message In 60 Seconds” cater for two different situations.
One is where you need to give a formal talk in a short space of time – such as where you have to stand at a networking meeting and announce what you do – sometimes with a timer and a system for gonging you off if you take too long!).

The other is for those occasions where you need to get across a point in a more casual conversation, but where there’s an obvious time constraint (such as being questioned in that lift).


If you and/or your colleagues could do with some guidance on the content, structure and delivery style of your mini-presentations or short professional conversations here are some options:

  1. One-to-one or small group sessions on your premises – or in telephone or Skype calls


  1. Master classes for up to 15 people – where everyone works on their own or a collective short message which your organisation regularly needs to convey


  1. A keynote address at your conference which can, if you’re up for it, involve a lively onstage “makeover” on a few 60 second messages that everyone in the audience can learn from and utilise.



There are also two rare open sessions on “Your Message In 60 Seconds” on Wednesday 20 February 2019 in Central London.


There’s a pre-lunch 10am to 1pm session which focuses on mini-presentations where participants need to stand before a group to convey their message in the form of a mini-presentation.
The post-lunch 2pm to 5pm open session focuses on more informal situations where participants need to get across a brief message more casually to one or a few people – face-to-face or over the telephone.
The investment cost is £167 for a place at either the pre-lunch or post-lunch session – or £239 for both.
No VAT is involved. 
There’s a discount early bird offer for those who book during November 2018 which is £143 for a place at a single session or £191 for both sessions.
For bookings or enquiries for any of the above options, email michael@michaeldoddcommunications.com or call 44 (0) 7944 952835
There’s more about “Your Message In 60 Seconds” here: http://www.michaeldoddcommunications.com/get-your-message-across-in-60-seconds/
All the options listed above help you get a powerful message across in the time it takes to make a piece of toast.
Here’s a guy whose knows about making toast on time who can help you.




By the way, what do you do???
And what will you say the next time someone asks???

Ready Yourself For Predictable And Surprise Questions – Before It’s Too Late http://www.michaeldoddcommunications.com/4696-2/ Sun, 28 Oct 2018 18:56:02 +0000 http://www.michaeldoddcommunications.com/?p=4696 However brilliant you are at your job, I’m guessing that you’ve never been awarded a bonus of 75-million pounds.


And if you’re completely brilliant at your job, you’re probably wise enough to realise that taking that 75-million-pound bonus may not be the right thing to do – for your customers, your work colleagues, your investors, your community or yourself.


It’s a bonus equivalent to:


  • 106-million Euros


  • or 122-million American dollars


  • or 172-million Australian dollars.




But if you ever are awarded this kind of money, then you should at least be clever enough to realise you’ll be asked questions about it.


And you should be smart enough to make sure you’re ready to answer those inevitable questions.


Alas Jeff Fairburn, the Chief Executive Officer of the British house building firm Persimmon – embarrassingly – managed to avoid doing this in relation to his record-breaking £75-million bonus.


mage result for Jeff fairburn Persimmon Homes bonus


Mr Fairburn failed abysmally to come up with coherent, convincing comments on the topic when predictably questioned about his mammoth bonus by a TV reporter.


This could only lead viewers to conclude that the bonus – believed to be the largest ever by a firm listed on the London stock exchange – was impossible to justify.


Mr Fairburn knew his bonus was controversial – partly because it had to be reduced from the initial £100-million after a public outcry earlier in the year.


But when the BBC asked him about it at the opening of a new brick factory, all he could do was take direction from an off-camera adviser, refuse to answer the questions and walk out of the interview.


Did this stop any expression of public outrage about the bonus?


Did it stop the BBC running with the story?


Of course not.


It fanned the flames!


All the walk-out did was make sure that every other media outlet which covered the initial bonus story had even more reason to cover it again – in bigger, bolder and more excruciating detail.


If you want to look guilty, shifty and clueless all at the same time when in the firing line of reasonable questions, then Mr Fairburn’s face can show you how!


Check out the boss’s embarrassing non-answers here – but only if you’re resilient enough to withstand the unsettling agony of watching it.





The only coherent thing Persimmon could put forward immediately after the interview walkout was that it was “unfortunate” that Mr Fairburn been asked the questions.


It would be more truthful to say it was “unfortunate” that Mr Fairburn was pathetically unable to give any answers.


The lessons are clear to all in business and beyond.


If you or your organisation do something controversial or newsworthy –  good or bad – in the public sphere, then you should be able to come up with answers to simple, obvious questions about it.


And even if you’re wise and fair enough to knock back any outrageously high bonus you’re offered, if you’re leading a business you should be at least smart enough to make sure you’re trained how to answer tough media questions on other subjects.


One of the key things when asked a pertinent public interest question is to make sure you say SOMETHING that’s helpful.


Ideally that something should be a well thought out response, getting across an important relevant message and – where appropriate – backed up by a powerful example that paints a mental picture what you mean.


Throughout the interview need to make sure you demonstrate a responsible attitude and own the problem – even if it’s a problem that you didn’t cause.


And you need to make sure you adopt the right tone and project the right level of confidence and competence in the way you look – and the way you sound – when giving your response.


In keynote presentations at conferences and in smaller training master classes, I show audiences what they need to do to ready themselves for tough questions – from the media, from clients, from prospects and others.


It’s all about getting the content right, the structure right and the delivery style right.


There’s more about speaking at your event here:






Remember if you give an abysmal reaction to a TV journalist, as Mr Fairburn did, the media tend to replay it over and over.


In media training sessions, my colleagues and I equip participants to effectively answer tough questions that you know are coming up.


But we can also show you how to be as ready as you can be for surprise questions that you don’t know are going to hit you.


Occasionally I’ve done emergency training for people just hours and even minutes before they’ve had to rush off to the TV or radio studio to be interviewed.


This is way better than having had no training at all.





However, it’s far better for participants if you organise your training well before any trouble strikes – just as you take out home insurance well before there’s any sign of a fire… and in the hope that there never will be one.


mage result for house fire


Being able to understand and apply the golden formulae for answering tough questions is a learnable skill.


There’s more about being shown how to give great answers here: http://www.michaeldoddcommunications.com/give-great-answers-to-tough-questions/


Being able to deal with blowtorch-on-the-belly media questions about bad news – and potentially tricky questions about good news – is also a learnable skill.


There’s more about that here: http://www.michaeldoddcommunications.com/media-master-classes/


And here’s where you can get a free start on some comprehensive guidance that’s designed to help:



Getting properly trained and prepared to handle questions from journalists – and from anywhere – can help equip you earn you that bonus…

…a bonus that is of course proportionate, easy-to-defend and hopefully – in your case – thoroughly deserved!

Enliven Your Audiences – Simplify Those Slides http://www.michaeldoddcommunications.com/enliven-your-audiences-simplify-those-slides/ Mon, 15 Oct 2018 13:03:52 +0000 http://www.michaeldoddcommunications.com/?p=4687 Imagine you’re told that a great guru has something vital to tell you.
The guru lives at the top of a mountain – as gurus do.
You cross deserts and crocodile-infested rivers before climbing the rugged slopes to reach him.
Finally you meet.


But instead of looking you in the eye and spouting wisdom, the guru holds up a big sheet of cardboard with lots of tiny writing on it.
He expects you to read all the words.
This is difficult because, while you try to decipher the meaning, the guru looks at the cardboard himself and simultaneously seeks to explain it.
You don’t know whether to focus on what the guru says or the written words.
Eventually you give up trying to read – and give up listening to the guru.
By now you don’t think he really is a guru – and you’re almost asleep.


Alas this experience is much the same as when you sit through a poorly planned presentation with a bad set of wordy slides.


Presenters who do the equivalent of this to their unfortunate audiences may know masses of useful stuff.
But little enlightenment usually takes place – and, in the end, such presenters undermine their status as potential gurus.
This happens with particular frequency to audiences in high-tech industries.
I know because I’m increasingly asked by those in high tech industries to rescue them and their unfortunate audiences.
It’s a pleasure and privilege to do so, especially as technical experts frequently prove to be quick, keen and delightful improvers with important things to say.
But while they’re not typically what you might call “natural” presenters, techy folk like to know useful formulae, quick tips and simple guidelines to put them on the right track – and they often surprise themselves with how well they can put it all into action.


Here’s the key tip for everyone who wants to avoid inflicting bad slide presentations upon their audiences.
Make your slides better by using fewer words and more pictures!
As a real guru on presentation might say: Too Many Bullet Points Kill.
Ask yourself, how many words are there on the front of a great movie poster that you remember – or a great book cover or a great pop album?
It’s very few.
A great slide can often help you get your message across in a similar way if it’s largely pictorial.
If you look closely at the picture below you can see a speaker showing slide of a movie poster with just one word – “Jaws”.


One emotive image (in this case a set of fierce set of shark teeth) enables a speaker to grab attention visually and say something verbally at the same time without overloading audience members and while looking directly at them.
If you need to convey a lot of factual information, make a self-contained written handout that everyone can read through afterwards when you’re not talking to them at the same time!!!
A good graphic slide doesn’t need to be self-contained, because you can add information verbally as it’s examined.
But a good handout must be self-contained, so it can be understood by audience members on the train or plane on the way home.
If the graphic slides in your presentation are memorable, audience members will understand the handout all the better.


Let me tell you about one single effective slide from a colleague in the Professional Speaking Association, Derek Williams.
Derek is a fantastically positive person who has built an organisation designed to give positive feedback to those who deserve it.
Rather than catching people doing things wrong – as so many do – Derek and his organisation catch people doing things right.
Derek also reckons many companies are more geared towards dealing with complaints than to receive praise.
In his presentations, Derek conveys this with just one slide.


It just takes a quick glance at the slide, with a short verbal explanation to get point!



Derek’s business is called “The WOW! Awards”.

It helps deserving organisations and their people to avoid the problem of too many complaints and not enough praise where its due.
This is good for morale, engagement and productivity.
There’s more at: www.thewowawards.co.uk



If you want to know more, there’s a chance you can get a ticket to a hugely positive WOW! Awards ceremony at the Tower Of London on 30 November.


If you’re interested in taking advantage of this possibility, email: michael@michaeldoddcommunications.com
Warning: there will be a lot of positive “wow” stories at the Tower.
This could be a shock to the Tower Of London itself, as the venue is better known for less positive things like hanging and torturing.
But it is a place of intriguing stories.
And stories should make up a chunk of what your presentation contains – ideally supported by largely pictorial slides, or no slides at all.
Telling the right stories or informing people about real life examples is a great way to enliven presentations.
If your team would benefit from knowing how to do this, you can book a keynote speech for your conference on “Becoming Inspirational Communicators”.
There’s more at:
And to ensure you and your team fascinate your audiences – rather than kill with too many bullet points – you can book master classes or one-to-one sessions on “Presenting With Confidence, Impact And Pizzazz”.
Details are at:
Telling the right stories and giving the right real life examples are also helpful when giving great answers to tough questions – during and after your presentations, in the media and beyond.
If you’d like to know more about telling riveting effective stories, you can listen free to a key chapter of “Great Answers To Tough Questions At Work”.
The chapter is called “Harnessing The Power Of Stories” and – thanks to the Amazon company, Audible – it will be read to you in a soothing easy-on-the-ear Australian accent here:



Meanwhile there’s a new story about the paperback version of “Great Answers To Tough Questions At Work”.
It now has an updated cover, thanks to the publishers – Wiley.
The latest cover portrays a quote from the Express Newspaper article about the book which says:
“Every briefcase and bookshelf should have a copy.”
You can read the whole article by The Express columnist, Carole Ann Rice, here:
The updated cover also has the “Management Gold” endorsement from the Chartered Management Institute.

Previously this was conveyed through a sticker on the front.
The quotation that was on the front cover has now been moved to the (supposedly more important) back cover.
Apparently bookshop browsers where the book is sold – in Waterstones, W H Smith and Harrods – are inclined to turn to the back cover when they’re deciding whether to buy a book.
So now when they look at the back cover of “Great Answers To Tough Questions At Work” they’ll see the quote from Roger Harrop, the award-winning business speaker, who really is a guru.


It reads: “Keep this book close at all times. Simply vital reading for all who need to answer tough questions and enhance their reputation as a result.”

You can read the first chapter of the paperback version free on line at:



Here’s a final word on telling stories – sometimes known as “anecdotes”.
The important thing to remember about the stories you tell in your presentations is to make sure you plan, prepare and practise them in advance.
If you don’t, the stories can go off the rails, fizzle out or sink as you tell them.
Penny Haslam is a witty colleague of mine in the Professional Speaking Association who has an arresting view on this.
She used to present the business news on BBC Breakfast but now delivers keynotes on visibility and confidence and has been described as “a female Michael McIntyre who speaks to business”.



You can check her out at: www.pennyhaslam.co.uk
Penny has devised a clever word for poorly planned anecdotes that go down badly.
It’s “Titanicdotes”… and you know when you – or someone else – sets off on one of these!
Be warned: When Titanicdotes appear in a presentation, the person who tells them tends to – like the captain of the Titanic – go down with the ship.


Don’t let this happen to you!

Control Your Emotions, Don’t Let Your Emotions Control You http://www.michaeldoddcommunications.com/4596-2/ Wed, 29 Aug 2018 10:59:52 +0000 http://www.michaeldoddcommunications.com/?p=4596 How would you feel if – just ahead of a vital test for your organisation’s work – your leader held a negative, bitter, bad-tempered press conference?…
… and by doing so your leader effectively signalled to the world that your organisation wasn’t ready to handle its latest challenge?
Not great, I presume.
And how would you then feel if your organisation subsequently ended up with a terrible result – partly because of this press conference – and the leader then held another even more negative, bitter, bad-tempered press conference?
Even worse, I presume.
This is what has just happened with the historically successful Manchester United Football Club.
The team boss did the very opposite of effective motivational speaking: de-motivational speaking!
We in the professional speaking world seek to communicate in a way that leaves your audience thinking, acting and feeling more realistically positive and better equipped to handle their challenges ahead.
In my case that involves equipping your audience of team members and/or of prospects and clients you want to impress with the tools to help them become more inspirational communicators.

Manchester United’s boss managed to turn this on its head – by demoralising the members of his team and the club’s fans.
Now there are growing calls for him to go.


So after an appalling badly handled pre-match press conference, the Manchester United Manager, Jose Morinho, saw his team lose to the generally less fancied Tottenham Hotspurs.
Manchester United lost 3-0 – a pretty decisive result in football world.
It was Manchester United’s worst ever home defeat under Jose Mourinho.
This was followed by an even more badly handled post-match press conference which the manager cut short by storming out waving three fingers towards the media, while pretending it was something to do with digitally symbolising his sporting record.




He did this while simultaneously demanding respect from the sports journalists who’d been asking him questions – while showing them and their respective audiences no respect at all.
As the world doesn’t run this way, Jose Mourinho’s approach to press conferences hasn’t helped his team on the pitch or off it.
Football managers frequently get fired for bad results.
Perhaps there’s sometimes there’s a case for firing a football manager based on bad press conferences.
This should be so when, unsurprisingly, bad press conferences contribute to bad results.


When you’re representing your organisation in the media spotlight and you’re being asked tough questions, it isn’t just the CONTENT of your answers that matters.
The ATTITUDE you display is at least equally important, and sometimes even more important.
Jose Mourinho displayed a miserable, snarly, disrespectful attitude thoughout his press conferences.
You don’t need to know anything about the finer points of football to spot this.
If you watch any amount of either press conference you can see that his attitude towards his questioners – the sports journalists – and his attitude towards his audience beyond… the fans, the club, the players, the world… is atrocious.
You can check out his pre-match press conference here:


And you can check out his post-match press conference here:


If you watch either of these performances, you’ll know how NOT to do it… whether in sport, in business, or any field of endeavour.
The good news is that answering tough questions much more effectively – and more nicely! – is a learnable skill.
Help is available here: http://www.michaeldoddcommunications.com/media-master-classes/
There’s even a book on it here:

And if you’d like the book read to you (in a soothing Australian accent) on your phone or ipad you can arrange that here:



And if you’d prefer to hear that soothing Australian accent on your CD or MP3 player you can get the book in audio form on a golden disc here:


There’s an equally strong need to demonstrate the right attitude when you’re answering tough questions outside the media spotlight as well as in it.
Whatever your role and whatever your profession, when you answer tough questions it can – at times – be appropriate to show your emotions.
BUT when you’re under pressure you need to KEEP CONTROL of your emotions.
The good news is that this too a learnable skill.
Help is available here:
Coincidentally, my professional speaking colleague Mark Fritz – best known for his insightful daily thoughts – has also been thinking about the importance of controlling emotions.
Mark shares his daily thoughts through the internet each day and one of his latest ones could also apply to those who lose it in front of the media and elsewhere.



He sums it up succinctly as ever by advising:
“Don’t let the feeling (in the moment) drive behaviours that push you further away from achieving your goals!”
And, as ever, he provides a cartoon to further illustrate the point which he’s shared with us here.



If you would like to have Mark Fritz’s succinct insightful thoughts emailed to you every day, you can sign up free to become a member of his Daily Thoughts Foundation here:

You can click on the inspirational video about new thoughts triggering new possibilities and outcomes.
And if you run into Jose Mourinho looking grumpy on the streets of Manchester, you might suggest that some new thoughts could trigger new possibilities and outcomes for him and his team… if it isn’t already too late!