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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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By Claire Doole, Claire Doole Communications

Every conversation is a presentation, and no conversation has higher stakes than a job interview. To succeed, you need to convince a potential employer you are the right person for the job.

Over the past year, I have been coaching people in the art of the effective job interview - with a 100% success rate so far. This is probably due to the fact that so many aspects of presenting yourself to a future employer rely on presenting and public speaking skills - my areas of expertise.

Here are some tips essential to effective presenting that can be applied to the job interview

Put your self in the shoes of the your audience

Look at every question from the employer’s perspective and do your homework. This means doing a detailed research of the company and what their needs are both today and in the future. With this information, you can explain your assessment of their challenges and opportunities and why you can help them meet them.

For example, when asked why are you interested in the job, you could reply:

"I've had twelve years in customer service positions, with four years managing the whole department. Your position clearly demands a strong service component in areas where I have expertise."

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Jimmy Kimmel and Warren Beatty photo © indie.com

By Claire Doole, Claire Doole Communications

Did any of you watch the Oscars last month? The format changed with no host - part of an effort to make the ceremony shorter - due to declining viewing figures in this day and age of shorter attention spans.

Whether high profile like the Oscars or for smaller awards at smaller events - think your annual conference or end of year party - ceremonies take planning and preparation.

Believe me, I know as I advise companies and organisations and have acted as host/Master of Ceremonies at a few awards ceremonies.

Ghana journalist with me in background

If you want to make sure your ceremony is remembered for the right reasons and not for the wrong ones - like the notorious "envelopegate" when "La La Land" was accidentally named the best picture instead of "Moonlight" at the 2017 Oscars - have a look at my tips for organisers, presenters, recipients and hosts.

Patty Emmanuel and Claire

French presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron, Canadian Minister for the Status of Women, Patty Hajdu, Claire Doole

By Claire Doole, Claire Doole Communications

How many of you attended this year’s gathering of the global elites at the World Economic Forum? If you were there, did you sit through any of the panel sessions? With the good and the great vying to be in the audience and on the podium, Davos panels are a hot, if pricey, event.

But how good are these sessions? Are they engaging, informative and thought provoking?

Many a client has contacted me as a moderator saying they want a Davos-style panel discussion. In the conference/event industry, these panels with their star-studded line-up are obviously seen as the gold standard.

So, I decided to test this hypothesis and watch a panel in which Rutger Bregman, a Dutch historian, made headlines with his remarks about why no one at Davos was talking about the super rich avoiding paying taxes.

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Those who know me would say that I am not one for hyperbole. However the speakers I coached at the UN TEDx PlacedesNationsWomen event in December completely hit the target.

I coached 8 of the 11 speakers at the event, celebrating women’s empowerment.

The speakers had great content and delivery, and kept the audience engaged from start to finish.

Yet, it proved to be a lot of work for all those involved with many lessons learnt. So for those who are planning to organise a TEDx, give a talk or want to become a more impactful public speaker, here are 5 do’s and 5 don’ts from coaching and observing speakers.

Do’s

  • Select a speaker fluent in the language of the talk. You have to memorise your TEDx talk, which means it helps to be absolutely fluent in the language. This will also ensure you sound natural and conversational when you deliver it. And a good memory is key!
  • Have an inspiring personal story to tell. You have to put yourself in the story for it to resonate with the audience. Many professionals shy away from the personal, preferring to speak about “it” rather than “I”. But this is not a TEDx talk. You have to be prepared to open up in your talk, share your experiences, opinions and values.
  • Leave behind your professional presenting style. You are no longer an academic, activist or lawyer, you are now a storyteller. You are not there to share your knowledge, but to persuade the audience your idea has merit. This means getting rid of unnecessary detail. You need to set the context, and what is most important are the individual stories you tell to illustrate your points and the narrative arc of the talk.
  • Match your words to your voice and body language. You have to make sure that these three channels of communication are aligned. You need to guide the audience so they understand immediately the emotions (joy, sadness, compassion) you want them to feel. And to do this you have to modulate your speed, pitch and tone. The pause, for example, will let the emotion you want to convey hover in the air so that the audience has time to absorb it.
  • Structure with clear signposts. You need to help your audience with short declarative sentences, which tell them where you are going. For example, this is my story of empowerment; I was in denial; or myths and taboos lead to stigma and harmful practices.

Photo TEDx team 2014 copy

A TED talk is all about sharing an inspiring idea. It sounds easy enough, but it is more difficult than you might think.

I speak from experience - having coached speakers for several TEDx events in Geneva and Lausanne and having been called in twice to salvage someone's TED talk within days of the event.

So when I was asked by the UN to coach 9 speakers for their PlacedesNationsWomen event one of the first things I did was to write a guide on what makes a TED talk different from the usual presentation or keynote address.

Here are my tips on drafting a TED talk, based on my experience as a professional public speaker and coach and the wonderful book
"TED Talks - The Official TED Guide to Public Speaking". by the head of TED Chris Anderson.

  • Make it personal: As a speaker, talk about an idea that matters deeply to you and transmit the idea and the passion you feel about it to your audience. It has to be an idea worth sharing!
  • Know the audience: Think of yourself as a tour guide taking the audience on a journey to a new place. You need to begin where the audience is and steer them clearly and compellingly along the way.
  • Stick with your idea: Think of your talk as about an idea rather than an issue. This is particularly important if you are tackling a tough topic where compassion fatigue can easily set in. An issue-based talk leads with morality. An idea based talk leads with curiosity. It says, "isn't this interesting?" rather than "isn't this terrible?" For example, this is an issue: Education for all. An idea would be framed as "Education's potential is transformed if you focus on the amazing (and hilarious) creativity of kids.
  • Connect the dots: You need a connecting theme, which ties together each narrative element. It is the idea that you want to construct in the minds of the audience. Can you put this in no more than 15 words?
  • Make it memorable: Think about the three points/messages that you want the audience to remember when they leave the room. Studies show people rarely remember more than three points and recall drops dramatically the day after.

The structure
Choose a structure that most powerfully develops your connecting theme. See below some suggestions, which can be mixed and matched over the talk.

  • Personal journey: If you are sharing your personal journey then you may want to follow the classic "hero's journey" structure where you have a goal but meet challenges along the way which you overcome and resolve the best you can.
  • Persuade: If you want to persuade an audience that the way they currently see the world isn't quite right, you will want to guide them through your argument so that is it plausible. This means breaking down your argument logically into small steps, perhaps even taking the counter position to show that it is flawed.
  • Detective: Another way to build a persuasive case is to play detective. You start with a puzzle and then with the audience search for solutions, ruling them out one by one. You invite the audience on a process of discovery and this can work well if you are a scientist or researcher talking about a discovery you have made.
  • Aspirational: You may want to speak of the world not as it is, but as it might be. You paint a picture of the alternative future you want and compare and contrast it with the situation today. (Think Martin Luther King, "I have a dream".)

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Techniques to make your talk memorable

  • Open with impact. Within the first minute, you need to get the audience's attention, make them curious and excited. Here are some ways to start.
    1) A surprising statement, fact or statistic.
    2) A surprising rhetorical question
    3) Show a compelling slide, video or object
    4) A personal story or anecdote

You want to tease, but don't give away your punch line. If you are looking to persuade or reveal a discovery you want to build up to your revelation.

  • Close with impact.
    1) Move from the specific to the broad
    2) Call to action - invite people to take action on your idea.
    3) Personal commitment - make a commitment of your own.
    4) Values and vision - can you turn what you have discussed into an inspiring or hopeful vision of what might be?
    5) Narrative symmetry - the human brain likes balance so you may want to link back to your beginning so that the narrative comes full circle.

In my next blogs, I shall take you through how to align delivery and content as well as lessons learnt from my TED journey. 

Author's bio

clairedooleportrait 200Claire 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