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Claire Doole is a former BBC correspondent and international spokeswoman who is passionate about helping people communicate with confidence. Since 2006, she has successfully trained hundreds of professionals in the art of presenting and public speaking, talking to the media, managing communications in a crisis, and writing for the web. In addition, she has coached C-level executives and public figures to give powerful TEDx and TED style talks in Europe and the Middle East. A Swiss and UK national, Claire trains and coaches in French and English.

Claire is also a highly experienced moderator having facilitated panel discussions with government ministers, NGO activists, humanitarians and human rights specialists at major events.

www.doolecommunications.com

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Audience engagement Picture 1

Photo credit: Women's Economy and Society

By Claire Doole, www.doolecommunications.com

Many people I know – both panelists and audience members - are wondering what is the point of panel discussions.

This is what I am told by the senior managers, leaders and experts I have been training in various communication skills.

It seems they are often too promotional, disorganised, lack focus and fail to deliver any new insights or engage the audience. In fact the audience takeaway seems to be at the bottom of the organisers priority list for a successful panel discussion

And ignoring the audience is having consequences as organisers tell me that fewer people are showing up for virtual, hybrid or in-person panels. It would appear that post pandemic we are all suffering from a case of zoomitis and thinking twice before we tune in or turn up to an event.

Mr Metaphor Jonathan Van Tams best Covid 19 analogies

Photo credit: The Telegraph

By Claire Doole, www.doolecommunications.com

What lessons have we learnt from how we communicated on the COVID health crisis that we can apply to the climate crisis?

That has been a recurrent question in some of the panel discussions I have moderated at conferences over the past year.

Two years ago, this month WHO announced a global pandemic. Since then politicians may not have admitted that they got things wrong, but scientists certainly have as this article reveals.

What became increasingly clear is that scientists are comfortable with not having a definitive answer. Being proved wrong lies at the heart of scientific progress.

But the media failed to understand this at first. Editors want certainty and journalists like to give answers. News tends to be black and white, while science is shades of grey.

Julien Pain, producer of the French TV programme, True or False, told me during a panel that “journalists learnt that as science evolves scientists change their mind on issues such as lockdowns, masks, and vaccinating children.”

He said that journalists should have focused on “what we know for sure, what we don’t know and what we need to know”. This he thought would at least have dampened the anti vaxxer arguments about not trusting governments due to their constantly changing policies.

Interestingly, he felt that scientists tended to fall into the trap of playing the media’s game and were not cautious enough with their answers. Perhaps, he opined because they wanted to be on TV or radio.

Classic Trap jpg copy

By Claire Doole, www.doolecommunications.com

Journalists like to probe during an interview and often ask you a question about what you would personally do or what you think. Depending on how you answer, you can find yourself caught in a spider’s web that is difficult to escape.

In this blog, I will share an experience and give you some tips on how to answer this type of question.

As head of media at WWF International, I attended a press conference in London organised by WWF UK to launch a report on an oil spill off the coast of Spain. A journalist from the Guardian asked the speaker from WWF UK – would you eat the fish? He replied; I would not eat the fish. The speaker from WWF Spain and the report’s author replied that the fish was safe to eat.

This scenario is a public relations nightmare – two people from the same organisation contradicting each other during a press conference. I was not moderating but sitting in the audience observing, so powerless to act. Afterwards, I went up to the journalists to attempt some damage limitation. How will you spin your way out of that one? The BBC environment correspondent asked. I am not, I replied, but I suggest you talk further with the author of the report.

Wolfgang

By Claire Doole, www.doolecommunications.com

I have waited two years to tell you this story. In January 2020, I went on a guided walking tour of Vienna with an Austrian friend. It was memorable because it was bitterly cold, and we wondered if we would last the two and a half hours. Forty of us were huddled together at the meeting point stamping our feet and rubbing our hands as snow threatened.

We should not have worried as our guide Wolfgang Rigon from Good Vienna Tours was a master storyteller, who kept us all captivated as he showed us the sights.

We stopped at least a dozen times as he told us a story, bringing alive the glorious and not so glorious history of the city. I recorded a couple of those stories on my phone. Have a watch of a powerful storyteller in action.

He must have told this first story about Marie Theresa, who gave birth to 16 children, hundreds of times. For us, the audience, his passionate delivery made us feel as if he was telling it for the first time.

First one is about Marie Theresa. See how he connects with the audience by making it relevant to the modern-day experience.

Storytelling

By Claire Doole, Doole Communications

Everyone loves a good story. Our parents read us stories, and we tell them naturally to friends and family. So why is it that in a professional context, we are so reluctant to tell stories?

I ask this question at the start of my storytelling workshops. Participants come up with a number of answers ranging from it is culturally inappropriate, too personal or a lack of ability.

Often people tell me storytelling is too Anglo-Saxon and not appropriate in Mediterranean or other cultures. In fact, I would argue that Africans are fantastic storytellers due to their oral traditions. But I think this reluctance is because people associate storytelling with the high drama of Hollywood with its rollercoaster of emotions.

In fact, storytelling is much simpler; it is about adding colour to the facts.

Ethos, pathos, logos
The Greeks got it right 2,500 years ago. Aristotle said if you want to persuade someone of something, you need to appeal to ethos (credibility), logos (logic) and pathos (stirring emotion in the audience). In the workplace we often have ethos and logos, but shy away from pathos.