Write your own introduction

As well as speaking for a living, I often act as the MC or compere at an event.

It’s not rocket science. I  tell people where the fire exits and toilets are located and glare at them until they switch their mobile phones to silent.

Then I pop up in between speakers, make a few light hearted comments, based on what they’ve said.  I always challenge myself to think up new comments for each event, based on what the previous speaker has said.

That way,  people think, ‘what he says isn’t brilliant, but at least he’s made it up today, and it’s specially for us, so we’ll give him the benefit of the doubt and they clap and maybe even pretend to laugh.’

At least I think that’s what they’re doing.  It’s so hard to focus when they start throwing things.

There was an episode of Friends, where Ross made a list of five celebrities who Rachel would allow him to sleep with. It was  like a Get out of Jail Free card allowing him to crack off with someone famous, without risking his relationship.  Off the top of my head I remember that Uma Thurman and Winona Ryder were on the list, along with Elizabeth Hurley and an ice skater. Possibly Michelle Pfeiffer as well, but that might have been on Chandler’s list. Anyway that’s not important. What is important is that he’d laminated the list.

By covering the list of his five chosen women, he’d set them in stone. He could carry that list around in his pocket without it getting creased. It meant he could have that list ready at all times, just in case Winona or Liz were down the laundrette. He could produce it triumphantly and claim his reward. Maybe after hearing his chat up lines about dinosaurs and robotic dancing, they would decide to forgo the chance of a bit on the side with a fossil hunter, in favour of a return to Beverley Hills, but at least he had the card with him.

And so we come to the point of my story.  You’ll be glad to hear that there is one, and you haven’t read this far for nothing.

When I speak at an event, I hand the host a laminated cue sheet. On it I have typed my introduction. This is how I would like to be introduced. It does not vary. It is always the same. I know if off by heart. I can make sure that the MC  gives me just the right build up.

My laminated introduction takes away the wildcard element.  Occasionally I’ll be introduced as Jeremy Nichols or Nicholson, but at least the bulk of what I want them to say will be correct. You can’t cater for hosts who are stupid, sloppy or have forgotten their reading glasses.  But at least you’ve given yourself a fighting chance of getting off to a flying start. I think of my laminated introduction as a golf tee.  I may end up playing in the rough at various points during the next hour, but at least I know my opening shot will be off a raised tee, giving me every chance of hitting it straight down the middle.

But how many of my speaking colleagues have a printed introduction which they hand to the compere at an event? In my experience it’s less than half, which I think is a disgrace.  OK you don’t have to have it laminated, that’s just me . I get nervous before speaking and often spill things!

As the host of events, I’ve lost track of the number of speakers who say they are happy to be introduced however I see fit.  Worse still they hand me their biography and want me to pick something out of that! I give them a chance to get off to a flying start and they don’t take advantage.

Here are a few comments from speakers  who I’ve asked how they want to be introduced to the stage:

*Just say I’m a Marmite speaker, you either love him or hate him.  (really? I hate you already)

*Just say he’s written a couple of books and he speaks all over the world.   (no kidding, you’ve written some books, whoopee do)

*Just say he’s a professional speaker who is well known in business circles. (you’re well known? Maybe I don’t need to say anything?)

One speaker at a recent event,  who had no printed introduction, handed me a few handwritten lines, scribbled onto the back of a flyer. There were a couple of very good points, which made me think his talk would be brilliant. Unfortunately, he mentioned those very same points in the first minute of his talk.  The audience must have thought, yes we know that mate, the compere just said that.

I hope he didn’t see me roll my eyeballs into the back of my head. But I think he did.

Avoid the hazards and the rough with your opening shot. Write your introduction out on a sheet of A4. And if you really want to make my day, stick it in the laminator.

There’s a lovely laminator here.

Jem  – pulling out what’s left of his hair- 26th February 2010    London, England

Too mean to pay to hear me talk? Here’s some free speech.

One of my most popular talks is ‘Putting the U in Humour’. It’s aimed at business people who want to get their message across more effectively by keeping their audience entertained.

Its a 30 minute keynote or a 60 minute interactive workshop.

The main message is to forget telling old jokes and concentrate on using amusing stories from your own real life.

It also deals with the way humor varies around the world, even the spelling!
Plus what is acceptable to different audiences, how to write funny stuff and why you should avoid being a clown. (Unless you already have a big red nose and a car that keeps falling to bits!)

Click below to watch it, and contact me if you’d like me to deliver the talk to your organisation.

Jem – Jan 2010

Ten Ambitions for 2010

When I was a little boy growing up in East London, I remember Mr Carter, the headmaster, talking to us one day in assembly.  He said we could achieve anything we wanted in life, as long as we wanted it enough. He reminded us that Noel Edmonds had been a pupil at our school, and he was now the breakfast presenter on Radio One.

At the time I thought that was one of the best jobs in the world.  Being rather a literal child, I put my mind to being a breakfast presenter. In my life I’ve had two spells presenting breakfast shows on GLR (now BBC London) and one on a country music radio station in Wembley (best not to ask about that one, but it paid well!)

In all I’ve had nearly four years of getting up in the night and trying to sound chipper in the morning.  Not easy for someone who according to my friends can be a bit grumpy in the mornings.

Anyway having watched Noel Edmonds reinvent himself a few times, I thought I would take a leaf out of my primary school’s most famous old boy and write down my ambitions.   Noel is a big believer in verbalising your dreams so they will come true.

So here’s ten things I’d like to achieve in 2010, or at least before I die.  (I’m not sure if they come true if you put too long a deadline on them, but I’ve always been a realist. )

TEN THINGS THAT I WOULD LIKE TO ACHIEVE IN 2010 BY JEREMY NICHOLAS

1.  To appear as a guest host on BBC Television’s Have I Got News For You.

2. To speak at the National Speakers Association convention in the USA or the Professional Speakers Association of Southern Africa.

3. To be appointed the main stadium announcer at the London 2012 Olympics.

4. To be a guest on Radio 5Live’s Fighting Talk programme.

5. To review the newspapers on Sky News.

6. To do some kind of journalism- written, TV or radio at the football World Cup in South Africa in June and July.

cape-town

7. To present a show on a UK radio station as a fill-in host.

8. To produce and present my own podcast on media skills and humorous stories from around the world.

9. To set up my own mastermind group for professional speakers in the London area.

10. To write my second book- Talking Toolbox- full of great tools to help get your message across.

11. To become a fellow of the Professional Speakers Association.  (hang on I thought there was meant to be ten ambitions?)

12. To have my name on the side of a bus. (OK you need to stop now, it’s meant to be ten, and everyone has seen that picture of the toy bus that you posted earlier, so it’s not even funny).

13. To stop talking to myself. (OK then, bye)

So those are my ambitions for 2010.  If you can help any of them come true, please contact me.

jeremy-nicholas-on-the-side-of-a-bus

You can email me at jem@jeremynicholas.co.uk

Follow me on twitter at Jeremy_Nicholas

7 ways to be a MediaMaster- by my co-author, Alan Stevens

mm-cvr-redWhat Brian Clough could teach today’s TV performers

The late Brian Clough had great advice about sound bites. “If you think of a killer phrase that sums up your story, the media will swoop on it like vultures. Keep them fed and you’ll keep them at arm’s length with you in control.” If only media interviewees today knew that.
In a new book, MediaMasters, Alan Stevens and Jeremy Nicholas have interviewed many of the top media performers in the UK, to find out top tips that anyone can use. Here’s a collection of six more of them:
Former paralympic athlete Dame Tanni Grey-Thompson says “You are usually asked the same old questions, time and time again.” Her recommendation? “Practise your answers and make sure you get better over time”
George Galloway MP agrees. He doesn’t believe in being diverted by inconveniences like interviewer’s questions. He says “You should say what you want to say. If it’s a good point, repeat it.” Exactly. You should say what you want to say.
Comedy performer Phill Jupitus urges caution when making comments in jest, advising “They may not look good when printed in black and white and attributed to you. Always speak the truth, except in wedding speeches when diplomacy is more important.” How true that is.
The creators and writers of the “Alex” cartoons, Charles Peattie and Russell Taylor, also use humour, but emphasise brevity too. They say “We can create a story for Alex in just four frames of a cartoon, with a joke to end, so surely you can trim your message a bit?”
Turning to TV skills, Michael Parkinson tells you to befriend the camera. His best advice? “When you are talking on camera, imagine you are chatting to a family member or close friend”. It certainly worked for him with his relaxed interviewing style being much imitated.
Lastly, novelist Fay Weldon gives some great advice about writing articles. She says “I don’t believe in sitting staring at a blank page for ages. Write first, think afterwards and analyse later”
Sounds simple, doesn’t it? That’s because it is. It’s all about preparation and confidence. There’s plenty more advice from the other MediaMasters in the book too (ISBN 1-905430-61-2), which is available from Amazon, or the authors’ websites at www.mediacoach.co.uk or www.jeremynicholas.co.uk.