Category Archives: Talks

Speaking in public – some notes

A few months ago, as part of the job I was doing then, I attended a lunch about the practices behind corporate coaching, i.e. training CEOs and the like of big companies how to talk in public.

Co-incidentally I was talking with a friend in Madrid later that day, and she had been accepted to talk at her local TEDx event. The talk I attended drew many parallels between TED talks and the needs of a corporate presentation.

Below is a summary of some of the notes that I took at the talk and then sent to my friend.

It is important to get the opening right. The entire audience will only give you 100% of their attention for the first twenty seconds. you need to be impressive in those twenty seconds. Leave the housekeeping, like who you are etc for later in the talk.

There are six ways to start a good talk.

  • Set a Challenge
  • Ask a Question
  • Tell a Story
  • Surprise Them
  • Share a problem
  • Show empathy

The following TED talks demonstrates each of these points in their first 20 seconds.

Set a Challenge – How to make hard choices

Ask a Question – How giant websites design for you and a billion others too

Tell a Story – The state of the climate and what we might do about it

Surprise Them – What animal madness means for us humans

Share a problem – Why we have too few women leaders

Show empathy – How to live before you die

The other key point is the End. We remember the last think you say best.

Talks are best illustrated by stories. Facts are boring, stories engage. An example of this is adverts for charities. Which engages more? The one with the fact of how many people are starving or one telling the story of one starving child name Sarah.

Stores have three parts.

  • Start – with the proposition
  • Middle – the stories is expanded, often rising and falling
  • End – summing up of the moral – often more than once.

Use the Intent, Message, Evidence, Audience method to write your story.

Intent – Why? Why are you telling the story?

Message – The idea the audience must know when they leave the room. This idea should be able to be summed up in a tweet, i.e. 140 characters.

Evidence – bring you point to life. Fact inform, stories will be remembered. Remember Facts, Observations, Anecdotes, Metaphors. The further along these four, the more engaging the device.

Audience – Ask “so what?” Think about the audience as an intelligent 16 year old.

Other points include:

  • Use your voice to add meaning.
  • Slowing down acts like a verbal highlighter.
  • Silence signals something important is coming.
  • Presentation speech rate should be around a third slower than conversational speech (around 140 words per minute). This comes from breaking information up and using short sentences.
  • Varying pitch is conversational style and more interesting to listen to.
  • Your body language is important too.

In memory of Hans Rosling

I posted this on my Facebook at the beginning of February, but I thought it deserved to go on this blog as well…

“When I grow up I want to be Hans Rosling”. Today I learnt the great man has died. His was the first TED talk that I ever saw. Every one of his talks are my favourite TED talks. He is the reason that in the last 15 months I’ve attended 7 TED events. I even referenced him in my Masters report. RIP Hans Rosling. You were great.

TEDxEastEnd 2017


On Saturday 25th February I went to TEDxEastEnd 2017 at the Hackney Empire. I went last year and it was the best TEDx that I had ever been to. This one was better! I went there with half a dozen of the volunteers from last year’s TEDxWandsworth.

Most of the speakers were excellent. A couple were dull, not because their subject was dull, but because their presentation did have enough pep. Here are the ones that stood out for me.

Jeremy Burge, emoji expert. Talked about emojis. Their history, the politics of emojis, the way they are a universal language, and the fact that each device will display a subtly different set of emojis.

One political point he highlighted was that originally all the people in the coloured emoji set were white. Then they were yellow, but because the world had been educated on the Simpsons, we all know that yellow in cartoons just means white anyway. Now there are available a wide range of skin tones for emojis, but generally they are still yellow skinned.

Another political point is that on the iPhone the gun emoji is a water pistol. Which might seem great that Apple have removed the gun. But if an Apple user want to text about a water pistol, all recipients on other platforms will still receive a gun. Not quite the message one wants to send in a water pistol fight.

Ministry of Stories is brilliant Harry Potter-esque shop in London, where you can buy jar filled with sweets but labelled with things like “eye of newt” or “ogre’s toenails” (I just made these two up, but you get the idea). The shop also encourages children to write stories and letters. As part of this talk some 8 to 10 year old read the letters that had been sent and receive to other kids in America. As well as letters they had written to their future selves. A great idea for kids, to get them to write to their future selves.

Babak Ghassim and Usama Elyas are two comedians from Germany, although I’m assuming (by the topic of they presented) they are also refugees from the Middle East (or sons of the same). They did not do a comedy skit, but instead spoke what seemed like a poem in German (with accompanying English subtitles, moving video and music). They each spoke alternate lines and it seemed like they were telling the story of a modern day refugee. But in the end it turned out that only one of them was telling the story of a Muslim refugee and the other was speaking the lines of a Jewish refugee from Germany in the run up to the Second World War. Very powerful and very clever.

Babita Sharma is a BBC journalist and presenter, but she told the story of growing up in her parents corner shop. Her parents being Indian immigrants. Hers was a story of immigrants become part of the bedrock of society.

Dhillan Bhardwaj is the Founder of Ratchet Clothing, a million dollar clothing label. He is a young guy (20?) and of South Asian heritage. He was expected to go into the family business but instead has built his own successful clothing range at a very young age.

Emmanuel Opoku moved to the UK when he was nine. He has grown up here, went to school here, did very well academically. But when he went to go to university (UCL no less) he was treated, under recently changed rules, as an overseas student. Meaning he already expensive £9000 per year fee increased to £27,000 per year.

Many other students found themselves in the same position and so challenged this in the courts. Some of them won, but not Emmanuel. Instead he has now held a successful crowdfund to pay for his student fees.

George Marshall is the founder of Climate Outreach and was the oldest presenter in what was a set of generally fairly young presenters. He is one of the leading government advisers on climate change and while he did talk about this, he also talked about how he loved talking with people who disagree with him. As he said, there are only two people who will tell you the truth – those who truly love you, and those who hate you.

Rasheeda Page Muir is a poet and feminist. She gave a rip roaring talk about how feminism needs to move into including men into their cause, and making men’s issues part of their cause. Feminists are never going achieve their aim with  out have men on board, and the majority of men are never going to be on board until they’ve solved their own issue. With this in mind she believes that rap (hip hop) is the way forward. This is a medium through which men can express themselves truly and through which they will truly be reached. She believes that rap and feminism need to become allies.

Alix Fox is a journalist and sex educator and she talked about the three most bizarre sexual kinks that she had been told in her career. The first was of a woman who had two vaginas. The second was a masochist man, who did all sorts of painful things to his nether regions (which I’m not going to repeat here) to receive sexual pleasure. And the third was about sexual synasthesia.

Synasthesia is occur in people where one sense induce sensation in another. The most celebrated is people who see music and various colours. Sexual synasthesia is when sexual excitement or orgasm can produce these hallucination. The examples she gave were in herself, the best orgasms means she can smell lemons. But in an example given to her by another woman, the best orgasm she ever had made her see a tower of green building blocks.

The whole event was held in the wonderful Hackney Empire, and its surrounding buildings, and this year also in the Hackney Museum. We popped down there and were encouraged to make our own screen printed poster. You can see my effort before.

All in all an action packed day. Very very good.





Glug November


I went to the most recent Glug event in London and saw some really interesting speakers.


A upright plotter that can draw on a variety of surfaces with a variety of pens and brushes.


Sway – a digital democracy app

An survey app which asks pertinent questions for the time we live in. It’s aim is to move towards gauging opinion better than current polling tools.



NB Studio

Presented there re-branding of Ravensbourne University. They presented some of the feedback they got and much of the negative ones involved guns. Does this say something about university students. The branding itself is not you usual university branding.



A sound design studio. They presented some of their music and soundscapes.

Google Creative Labs

Hana Tanimura presented. She is an Australian with Japanese heritage who grew up in Switzerland. She was once told “Go back to China, Pocahontis” (obviously by a very confused xenophobe).

I liked the project called Super Sync Sports which was encouraging people to download Chrome browser and link it with their smart phone to play games.

Human After All

Talked about Weapons of Reason, an irregular magazine they publish. Each issue covers a global issue theme and is worked on for many months, each article well-considered and the art that accompanies it is specially commissioned. The magazine looks amazing. There will only be a set number of issues.



Also showed off a report they designed for the World Economic Forum. Not a groundbreaking piece, but quite nice for its genre. I liked their iconography.


Three meetings and a lack of discipline

After the brilliant Glug last week, this week has been full of meetings.

On Mondays I have been irregularly attending a meditation class. I am glad that I have joined this class, but my results at the actual class have been varied. I think, having learnt the basics at the class, I meditate better at home. But I do enjoy the social aspect of the class, and it’s nice to socialise with people who aren’t really out to compete with one another, but instead have a relatively peaceful, positive time. A contrast to the people I met at the next two meetings.

Tuesday was the latest Live Your Legend Local London meeting (LYLLL?). This meeting did not have the same structure as the other two LYLLLs that I have been to and was organised by a different person to the other two. The others have been smaller and the structure was one big group sharing with each other. This one was too big for that, and the structure was that of an audience watching (and interacting) with one speaker. But after the talk was over we then gravitated into talking in smaller groups.

The speaker of this night was the author of the book Escape the System, Joe Barnes. He structured his talk with questions for the audience and we broke into pairs at intervals discussing how we would answer these questions. A good idea, but I found the question were very similar to the ones that I have already been answering throughout the Live Your Legend process, and they are the ones where I feel I have reach unsatisfactory answers – like, “what’s your passion?”

Wednesday was the latest London New Tech talk at the Google Campus. This event keeps getting more and more popular. I turned up on time for once and I’m lucky I did. Out of a potential 600 attendees only 130 were let in. The presenters ranged from a really enthusiastic guy talking about a new way of dynamically pricing hotel rooms to a woman who droned on about who knows what and I doubt got anyone interested in what she was promoting. I could have made a list of speakers and links for this blog post, but personally I’d like to see this event have it’s own website. Somewhere I could point to and that would have a summary of all the speakers. I think there is the audience for it. I actually talked to the organiser about it.

One final point about this week: the regular Live Your Legend blog/email shot was entitled “12 Ways to Create More Time to do What You Love”. Point five is one that I really have problems with “Stocktake the Wasted Hours of Your Day”. What this means, for me, is the time lost of the internet – social networks and YouTube. I really need a YouTube lock on all my devices. The problem is that I would be the one setting it up and therefore I would know how to circumvent this. I need to get more discipline on this. I know I can do it, as I have developed discipline in other parts of my life. I even wrote myself a sign “NO YOUTUBE”. Maybe I need a bigger sign.


Last Thursday I went to an event called Glug. It was an evening of talks and networking surrounding the creative industries. There is an entrance fee (less than £15) and the one I went to sold out well before the date of the event.

They are sort of like TED events, but instead of “ideas” in general, they are about creative work.

They are worldwide set of events and you can see some of there talks here,

I saw talks for an augmented reality app, for an artist who does illustration for Pottermore (the extended Harry Potter world), and for a set of street artists who are heavily influenced by typography. Plus another speaker who sung a funny song about Kerning – “Close, but not touching”.

I also managed to network with some people and I met a career coach called Nicky Moran ( who specialises in coaching creatives. I will report back if I end up using her services.



Yesterday I went to my latest visit to the world of TED, this time in my own neighbourhood.

The day started in a brilliant way. The audience were all milling about in the foyer of the theatre, myself included. People were chatting. An enthusiastic woman came up to me and started talking to me. On the other side of the room some music started playing. “I wonder what that is” she said, and then continued with our conversation. After a couple of minutes, she then raised her voice “Ladies and Gentlemen…” Turns out that she was the leader of a flash mob gospel choir that had infiltrated themselves throughout the audience. They, the House Gospel Choir, then gave us a very upbeat selection of some gospel and club house songs. It really pumped up the crowd and when they had finished the actual event started. It was a brilliant way to start the show.

Sophie Henderson talked about the need for a Museum of Migration, arguing for how important migration had been to Britain and how integral it has been to its history for hundreds of years.

Amma Mensah runs workshops and mentoring for school age girls. One of who came up with the brilliant line “no-one ever died from not having sex”.

Matthew Youlden is a polyglot and know how to speak many languages. He gave his advice on how to learn. The best of which was do it regularly, preferable daily. Even if it just half an hour a day listen to that language.

Matt Celuszak talked about AI and how computers are now learning how to recognise the emotions on our faces. This could lead to technology where market researchers can tell what we think of their product, what mood we are in when we are entering their shop and how we react to different parts of a website.

Charlie Thuillier and his brother kite surfed 100’s of kilometres down the north east coast of Brazil. When he returned he started a company that produces delicious, low calorie icecream made from all natural ingredients. We all tried some and couldn’t believe that such a thing exists, but it does. Charlie’s message is that to break the rules. But more importantly don’t learn the rules, that way you don’t know that they are their to be broken. Knowing the rules will just hinder you. Think of what you want to do or where you want to be first. Don’t think of the how till later. Much later.

Sooz Kempner was talked about being trolled online, but in a very funny talk.

Stevyn Colgan is a QI elf, although looked more like Father Christmas (if you ask me). He gave his speech unprepared, and it showed. It was rambling and it went on for far to long. But it was also funny. Ultimately it was about community policing, and with some prior scripting could have been tightened up and made about half the length.

A great day all round.

Two MeetUps

As part of following LYL I joined a pile of Meetups to further my interests and make contacts. Sooner or later there was going to be a scheduling clash, and last Monday I was potentially tripled book. I decided to still go to two of the Meetups.

The first was London Motion, a meetup for Motion Graphic Designers and Animators. It was in the form of a talk and presentation. The speakers were from the design house The Mill and they showed some of their work. An example video can be found here:

One of the things that I took away from the talk, and the general chat in the room is that I am going to have to learn the program Cinema4D.

Ideally I would have stayed after the talk and networked some more, but instead I shot off at the end and went straight to the next Meetup. Which was Live Your Legend Local London.

What was weird about this Meetup is that I recently mentioned on this blog that it hadn’t happened in a while, and then the very next day this meeting was scheduled.

I was, of course, last to arrive. As I was the previous time as well. There was a better group this time with eight people there (and one dog called Mabel). Not a lot I can report about my short time there.

I would like to attend an entire evening one day. And I am also thinking about trying to be involved in the organisation.

The Business Show (part 3)


David Olsan, Mars Spiders

Mars Spiders were not exhibiting at the show, but I bumped into my friend David at the beginning of the day. He runs an app development company and we went to the first talk together.

James Nicholson, How to rank your site on Google in 2016 and beyond

Tempo Web Design

Ooh, I don’t think this guy follows his own rules. I tried to search for the URL for his company, but the top two Google results are two very similarly named companies that do the same thing. And then when I entered his name, I got neither.

Much of what this guy said I already knew, but he did introduce some new concepts. The most interested one was: on a website, don’t try to drive all search results to your home page. Instead have different pages for different searches.

Keyword density. While keyword are a good thing to have for search results, too many of the same keyword can look spammy and be detrimental, as Google takes this into account. One website that I’ve since looked at suggests a keyword density of 1 to 3%.

Backlinks. I knew these were crucial for a good search result. But also, use a backlink checker.

Dmoz. This is a directory of the web that is edited by real people.

Steeeve Lamontagne, The Amazon opportunity: an introduction to this accessible business model

Although I don’t think this talk was relevant to me – I can’t see me selling a physical product – I found it very interesting. Also, it was full of information and it wasn’t a sales pitch.

John Davy, Make your LinkedIn profile work for you

This talk was standing room only and the best talk I saw all show. Full of information and very little selling.

I think I was already doing a lot of what he advised on LinkedIn, but since his talk I have already changed some things and I will continue to refine it.

Your LinkedIn page should clearly tell

  • who you are
  • what you do
  • why you do it

Get found What problem do I solve, from the perspective of the customer?

Get viewed stand out.

Get results have a call to action: “call me” or link to website.

Your professional headline should be full of keywords and not just a job description. In fact, probably not a job description, but something that differentiates you from others. This way you will turn up in a LinkedIn search.

Link various parts of LinkedIn profile to various sections of your website.

The only “have to have” sections on a LinkedIn profile are

  • Summary
  • Experience
  • Education
  • Advice for contacting
  • Skills
  • Connections
  • Rich Media
Gayle Heggie, How start-ups turn ambition into reality

This was an on stage interview where Chris Goodfellow (editor of Business Zone) interviewed Gayle about what Entrepreneurial Spark is.

It is a free entrepreneur accelerator. In other words an organisation that offers help, advice and mentoring, free of charge, to well-selected entrepreneurs.

One of the ways they do this is by doggedly asking the difficult questions. If a business, or business proposition, can’t answer the difficult questions, then it’s probably not a very good proposition.

The two quotes I have written down are:

Fall in love with the problem not the solution. In other words, a business should be founded on the problem that it will solve, the solution then follows.

Value proposition is central.

I really liked this talk, because what was being ‘sold’ was a non-profit organisation. They exist purely to help people. Although they do have sites all around the UK, they are yet to set up a London branch.

I spoke with Gayle afterwards. A very encouraging person.

Shankar Ravi, Making and selling vertical apps on the cloud

I was really disappointed with this talk. The speaker gave no real substance to the what the title of the talk was and instead was selling his product, which is an app. I walked out quite early on this talk.

Brad Burton, Hype. Crowd. Wisdom.,

This was my least favourite talk of the whole two days. A really aggressive guy who spent his whole time shouting at his crowd. This is supposed to be motivational speaking?

This talk was really well attended. A fact that the speaker didn’t fail to point out. But what he didn’t point out was the other Keynote Talk, that was supposed to be on at the same time, had been cancelled. The other (cancelled) talk was supposed to be Hillary Devey, one of the dragons from Dragons’ Den (she rescheduled for later in the day). I suspect she would have been the most popular at the show, as she was featured speaker of the conference. Consequently, a lot of people had a sudden hole in their schedules.

I would have left this talk earlier than I did but I was hemmed in by the crowd, so I had to endure it way longer than I wanted.

Most of what this guy had to say was that, if he could do it, so could you. His whole spiel was just talking about himself and his book.

The only note I took was “turn down the volume on negativity”. Although on reflection, how about just turning down the volume?

I didn’t know what URL to associate with this speaker as, I think, he was supposed to be promoting 4networking, but I think he  mentioned them only once.

Andy Wilcox, Unveiled: the 7-11-4 formula for proven business success

Another talk packed with information and very little self promotion. This was the final talk I attended and was the talk where I took the most notes.

7 Foundations
  1. Why are you in business?
  2. Where are you now? Clarity (now).
  3. Where do you want to be? Clarity (in 12 months). Is your behaviour congruent with you goals?
  4. Switch from a doer to a marketer.
  5. Spend the first 90 minutes of each day getting and keeping customers.
  6. Market. Message. Media. (I think this note is incomplete)
  7. It’s all your fault
11 Marketing Pillars
  1. Track your marketing
  2. Paid traffic
    • Google Ad Words
    • Facebook ads. These can be hugely targeted.
    • Banner ads. Also targeted.
  3. Follow up. Keep following up. Repeat business takes an average of 10.8 follow ups.
  4. Database.
  5. Video – look at the closed captions on YouTube. Manually add your own closed captions.
  6. Print
    • leaflets
    • flyers
    • direct mail – use a bright coloured envelope, hand address it and use a first class stamp
  7. Referral campaigns, use your current customers
  8. Offers. Have time limits on these.
  9. Testimonials.
  10. Lost customers.
  11. Pricing. Have a premium product – it won’t cost you much more to have a premium product, but can be charge a lot more. The example he gave was fast lanes at the big amusement parks. All it costs them is a bit of rope to create a new lane, but they get loads of ££ for every fast lane package they sell.
4. Killer strategies
  1. Your positioning
  2. Deadlines – get stuff done
  3. What would the best in the world do?
  4. Learn & implement.

Two other things that he mentioned. The book “The E-Myth”. And the video email service “Bomb bomb”.

The End

And that was it. The first trade show that I’ve been to. A real sensory overload. Half the talks were interesting, the other half were, as David Olsan put it, snake oil salesmen.

The Business Show (part 2)


Kevin Jackson, How to become a consultant

This was my first talk. It was interesting, but I think because I had yet to be brow-beaten by the whole experience. This guy runs a business advice company.

A couple of stats that I learnt:

  • 99% of UK companies have less than 50 employees
  • A ‘start up’ is defined as a company that has been trading less than 3 years
Andy Harrington, Passion into profit

This guy is professional speaker. A little guy with loads of presence. This talk followed the previous in the same theatre. He certainly got the audience more engaged and awake. I think of all the ‘energetic’ speakers I saw, this guy got the tone most right.

He piqued my interest because he was about igniting passion. This is one of the things I’d like to do. I once had passion for business, I which I had it again.

My notes of his talk:

  • Make business come to you. Position yourself as the go-to option for that business.
  • Create content. Be prolific. And provide answers to your market’s problems.
  • The five ‘I’s: Information – good content. Impact – deliver, disrupt, compete. Inspire – story telling. Influence – sell the change. Income.
  • Content is a map. The journey from A (where the client is) to B (the solution).
  • What are your solutions? Your methodologies. Make it your own.
  • Be ready. Stay ready.

At the end, he very cleverly manipulated us into buying into his product. I spent £37 for a package that what was (allegedly) worth a whole lot more. In a different environment, I don’t think I would have spent this money. Still, I got his book, which I will read. And I have a ticket to his next all day event. So I don’t think I was ripped off.

John Morris, Maximising your business online potential

Although I knew almost everything this guy had to say. It was still interesting to see how he explained the set up of a website.

Anthony Dada, Grow personal success: become your brand, build your business

The essential message of this guys was “know thyself”. Something that I agree with. His acronym (it seemed every speaker had one) was GPS = Growing Personal Success.

I found his delivery a little preachy. A little… churchy. Not really my cup of tea.

Sidenote: this guy does not take a good photo. He looks scary in photos, almost thuggish. He projects much more approachability in person.

Johathan Pfahl, How to adapt your sales and marketing model for the 21st Century

My first ‘keynote’ talk. Another one of these high energy speakers. I have to say that after a while these guys were just tiring. Runs a mentoring company and a lot of his talk was just a sales pitch.

The one point I took from this talk was that one should invest in others businesses. This is for two reasons. If you are experienced in investing then you know what is a good investment, and then you can assess your own business in the same manner. Also, if you invest, then others could see you as a good investment.

Part of his offering was a way to invest in other companies (which I was interested in). But I went to his website and this is not offered until you use his other services.

Marc Wileman, Sublime Science: From a Prince’s Trust loan to Dragons’ Den,

This was one of the least sales-y talks. Marc talked about his journey to form his business which provides science-based kids’ parties around this country. It was quite entertaining and a welcome respite from some of the other speakers.

Strangely, he was actually plugging two of his books, and I didn’t really feel like I was being sold to.

Linzi Boyd, How to get everyone talking about your business

The author of the book “Brand Famous” and certainly one of the most polished speakers I saw. I liked this talk, because although she was pushing her book, she also gave a really good talk with loads of insight.

Nowadays most business classify themselves as B2C (business to customer) or B2B (business to business). Linzi introduces the concept of B2P, where the P is people.

From 1995 to 2005 there was print fame. ’05 to ’15 there was YouTube fame. Now we are entering the era of Google Fame. Everyone googles everyone else. You reputation, your brand is what Google says it is.

One’s brand is now one’s fame. Look at many big companies. The CEO’s are celebrities now. Mark Zuckerberg. Steve Jobs etc. This is what the dragons on Dragons’ Den are doing, they are promoting their brand by promoting themselves. These multi-millionaires don’t need the appearance fee, but what they are getting is brand recognition.

Everyone can manage their own brand, by managing what appear on Google. Indeed, I’ve tried to do this myself. But Linzi also pointed out that one could manage you Google Images as well. Something I’ve not yet tried.

Also, something I’ve avoided, is to use Google+. I’m personally not interested in having another social network, but as it is intrinsically linked to Google, it will help with search results.

Matt Fiddes / Patrick O’Driscoll, How to kick start your business

This was the first talk that I walked out of. The advertised speaker, Matt Fiddes, did not appear. Instead we got one of his franchise owners. This guy was not a particularly good advertisement for a martial arts school, as he didn’t seem that fit. Nor was he a good motivational speaker. He just seem to ramble on about his life. I was actually bored. Fail.

Kam Dovedi, Property: the safest, securest and most profitable business in 2016 and beyond

This was essentially “how to become a property magnate”. Not something I’m looking for, but I think he seems to offer good advice, along with a road map, for anyone who wants to be a property investor.