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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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COP 27

By Claire Doole, www.doolecommunications.com

The head of an organization that last year ran more than 100 panel discussions asked me that question recently. By the way, if you think 100 is a lot, the organization had topped 150 panel discussions in 2020/21!

We all understand the quest for visibility, but sometimes less is more. The organization in question understood this when at COP 27 in Sharm El Sheikh last November it had to cancel a panel discussion – one of 15 it was organizing – due to a lack of audience.

Lack of audience

I was told by friends who attended COP 27 that there was marquee after marquee, side event after side event, but many of them were not full. One private company held a panel discussion at which only three people turned up. This, I would argue, was an event that should have been cancelled, as it is not good for the organizer’s reputation, brings little benefit to the speakers, and is an uncomfortable experience for the audience.

Ironically, this is more likely to happen at big events like COP as there is more competition for attendees. This is having a knock-on impact on panelists in that they are being asked to speak at too many events, and there is not always enough of them to go around. Another international organization fielded requests from 80 side-event organizers for speakers – many of which they could not accept as they didn’t have that number of speakers available.

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By Claire Doole, www.doolecommunications.com

One of the most common refrains I hear when coaching senior leaders in public speaking is they have to rewrite most of the speeches drafted for them. 
 
Much of the time the person struggles to deliver the speech because it has not been written for them. In the words of one agency head, “it doesn’t capture my voice.”
 
I have written many speeches. I see my job as writing the speech that the speaker themselves would write if only they had the time. I have to stand in the shoes of that person and see the world as they see it. 
 
Below are some tips based on how I capture my speaker's voice. 
 
Research 
Listen to recordings of the speaker at events and conferences. If you are a staff member observe the speaker at town hall meetings or during internal webinars. 
 
Get to know your speaker  
You must have access to the speaker so that they are involved in the drafting process. During a phone call or in-person meeting, together, you will first have to define the purpose, audience and argument of the speech. But don’t forget to drill down on the essence of that person – what drives them? What are their beliefs? What type of person are they? 
 

ten tips for conducting successful remote interviews 1 copy

By Claire Doole, www.doolecommunications.com

What is the first thing you think about when asked to give a presentation or speech?

That is a question I often ask in my presenting and speechwriting workshops.

The answers are often very candid but very wrong. They range from the slides I can recycle from previous presentations to structure and messaging.

You can’t give an impactful presentation or speech until you have worked out who you are talking to. Too many speaking engagements are wasted opportunities because the speaker has not tailored his or her content to the audience. If you give some off-the-shelf presentation, audiences know that you are speaking at them and not to them, and will, often, zone out.

You need to ask yourself three questions:

  • What does my audience know about the topic of my speech?
  • What is their attitude to the topic?
  • How big is the audience, and what is the setting?

ten tips for conducting successful remote interviews 1 copy

By Claire Doole, www.doolecommunications.com

Earlier this year I was asked to sit on an interview panel for a Director of Communications position. The organisation requested my support to reduce eight candidates down to four through a series of written and communication tests. I have helped a number of people prepare for job interviews with international organisations and companies, but I had not been in the recruiter’s chair for many years.

It was a great vantage point to assess what works and what doesn’t.

Below are ten observations based on interviewing candidates remotely:

  1. Prepare. It is a cliché, but preparation does prevent poor performance. I was shocked that some candidates had scant knowledge of the organisation’s vision and mission and had not thought enough about the value they could bring. Employers are looking for what you can do for them: what gaps you can fill and what problems you can solve.
  2. Don’t over-prepare. One candidate had obviously been privy to some confidential information and revealed it. This did not go down well with the panel.
  3. Be prepared to answer questions based on your tests and motivation letter. As a side note, make sure that your cover letter is a single page. It should be employer centric and make them want to read your CV. (We received one letter that was 7-pages long – not a good indication of someone’s ability to be clear and concise!)
  4. Give examples of what you like about the organisation’s mission, values and activities, and where it can improve.

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.