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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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CDC Gabor the coach
Photo by Deborah Berlinck

By Claire Doole, Claire Doole Communications

I know very little about classical music, but I was privileged to have a front row seat to a master class given by Gabor Takacs-Nagy. As I watched Takacs-Nagy in action, I realised much of what he said applied to public speaking – a world I know more about.

Takacs-Nagy, a renowned Hungarian violinist and conductor, is Director of the Verbier festival chamber orchestra. The festival, in the heart of the Alps, runs from 21st July to the 6th August, and is a key event in the classical music calendar.

CDC Verbier inthe mountains

Photo by Deborah Berlinck

So what does playing in public and speaking in public have in common?

Emotion is everything

Being a musician was like an emotional striptease explained Takacs-Nagy to aspiring professional musicians. The remark made the well-heeled audience laugh but resonated with me. Musicians he said needed to go beyond their technical prowess and convey the emotion of the work so that the audience connect emotionally.

It is the same principle in public speaking as Aristotle pointed out some 2500 years ago. If you want to persuade people, you have to not only have logos (facts) and ethos (credibility) but pathos (stirring the audience’s emotions).

The US author Maya Angelou goes even further: “I’ve learned that people will forget what you say, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel”.

Context is vital

Takacs-Nagy painted a vivid picture of what it was like to be a gypsy musician in the 18th century to help today’s young musicians convey the emotion of Brahm’s piano quartet number 1 in G minor, which is inspired by gypsy music.

A Masterclass by the Director of the Verbier Festival Chamber Orchestra from Claire Doole Communications on Vimeo.

If you are speaking in public the most effective way of getting a message across is to tell a personal story or anecdote. In both cases you need to explain the context – what is happening, where and when to whom, so that people care about the characters and the situation they find themselves in.

Show don’t tell

Tackacs-Nagy often picked up the violin and showed what he meant. He said he hadn’t played for many years so it was not about him showing off but helping the musicians hear what he meant.

In public speaking, it can be more powerful to describe a situation and let the audience form their own opinion, rather than telling them what to think. People in the professional world are often reluctant to show emotions as this can be seen as a sign of vulnerability. When I ask someone to share a personal story, I always share one first.

Light and shade

Too much emotion or too much of the same emotion is counterproductive as it will turn the audience off. Using the analogy of Da Vinci’s most famous painting, Tackacs-Nagy told the pianist playing Mozart’s piano quarter number 1 in G minor that he should see himself at certain moments more as the backdrop to the violinist’s Mona Lisa.

In public speaking it is vital that the speaker varies the emotional range – moving from “levitas” to “gravitas” to keep the audience interested, changing tone according to the message they are giving.

CDC Gabor demonstrating 2
Photo by Deborah Berlinck

The Master Coach

As a media/public speaking coach, I know how important it is to have good intent when helping people through transformational change. Earlier this year, I went on a course where the sole intent of the trainer – a doyenne in the acting world – seemed to be to knock our confidence.

How refreshing to see in the equally competitive world of classical music, a coach whose constructive approach helped the musicians reach new heights of excellence, even to my untrained ear.

CDC Gabor in full flow 3
Photo by Deborah Berlinck

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

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British PM Theresa May 500
Photo credit ©BBC Newsight

By Claire Doole, Claire Doole Communications

It amazes me that politicians still think they can get away with not answering the question during media interviews. Who are they hiring for media training? Certainly not me!

The web is full of examples of what not to do during a media interview. In my trainings I use an example of a Blackberry executive who is so on message but completely fails to hear the question.

Watch this as an example of a car-crash interview on BBC Breakfast News.

CDC 72 artist and flu vaccine

By Claire Doole, Claire Doole Communications

One of the golden rules of moderating is that the moderator does not have a view. Your role is to remain neutral and stimulate discussion so that the audience is engaged, learns something new and ideally changes behaviour or takes action afterwards.

However, once my job was over, the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Associations (IFPMA) asked me to reflect on my experience of moderating two panel discussions at their event marking World Immunization Week.

The theme of the symposium was flu vaccines part of the solution for a healthier and more productive society. It is a challenging theme – perhaps not as immediately gripping as the panel discussion the day after on shortages and supply. As I know from my background as a BBC correspondent and PR professional, it is easier to sell problems than solutions.

CDC journalism 2

By Claire Doole, Claire Doole Communications

My colleague, Jean Milligan, and myself, have just come back from Bangladesh where we were handling the local media for an event organised by one of Geneva’s international organisations.

For the organisation’s President, who is himself from Bangladesh, it was an opportunity to show that his country was open for business, able to successfully organise an international conference attended by more than 1200 people from 126 countries.

As this was the first international conference in Bangladesh for decades, there was a massive local press corps following the proceedings in great detail. Several national TV channels even broadcast the press conferences live.

I realised during my stint there that it is not easy to parachute into a complex local media environment, and manage the challenges and opportunities that arise. Looking back on my experience in Bangladesh and in numerous other places, I have come up with some tips on managing local media in an unfamiliar context.

The first thing to keep in mind is that many local media work to the highest professional standards. You may find that doing an interview with them requires much more knowledge than with the international media. However, do be aware of the constraints that some of them work under.

CDC moderatehottopic3 500

By Claire Doole, Claire Doole Communications

There can’t be many subjects that provoke more heated debate than the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. So when the founder of the Geneva Human Rights Film Festival (http://www.fifdh.org/site/en/home) asked me to moderate a debate on the subject last week, I knew I had my work cut out.

As a former BBC journalist, I follow current affairs but I am not a subject expert. Yet at the Festival I would have a room full of subject experts. There are large Jewish and Arab communities in Geneva and many organisations that work towards ending the conflict.

Preparation was crucial if I was not to make a diplomatic faux pas and do justice to the speakers: Israeli professor and peace activist, Daniel Bar-Tal, founder of Stop Israel Save the Occupation (http://www.siso.org.il) and Palestinian peace activist, Ali Abu Awwad, founder of the Tarir/Change Movement and Roots initiative (http://www.friendsofroots.net/the-people.html).