Matchday Column

How I became the West Ham announcer.

I moved to East London from Cambridge when I was six. I think my parents may have done the driving, but I imagine I did most of the packing and dealing with estate agents.
Growing up in Clayhall it was a no-brainer that I should be a Hammer. There was a Spurs fan and a Chelsea fan on our street, but nobody really spoke to them. When I was twelve we moved again, to sleepy Suffolk. By then I had claret and blue flowing in my veins, but took me a while to find my way back to London.
I studied in the beautiful university cities of Bradford and then Portsmouth, before my first job as a radio reporter in the fragrant coastal resort of Hull. Bradford, Portsmouth and Hull? How I escaped without a tattoo is anybody’s guess. West Ham were having their best ever season in the top flight and I was miles away listening on the radio and occasionally watching on Ceefax.
I spent three years with the BBC in Nottingham, winning a New York Radio Academy Award for commentating at the Hillsborough disaster. It was the worst day of my life and we didn’t go and collect the award. It felt wrong when 96 people had died.
In 1990 I returned to London, to work on GLR, which is now called BBC London 94.9. I presented the breakfast show alongside the late, great Kevin Greening. I used to bang on about West Ham a lot. Little did I know someone at the club was listening and one day I would get the call.
I went freelance in 1994, and moved into television. It was inevitable. All good looking radio presenters eventually move into TV.  I fronted shows for Talk TV and then the fledgling Channel 5. I anchored most of their sports shows for the first couple of years. In fact a colleague described me as the complete anchor, but I may have misheard.
In the early days the Channel 5 signal was a bit fuzzy. Once they sorted the transmission problems, someone noticed my hair was thinning at the back. Baldies didn’t score well in the focus groups. The schedulers were aiming for a young audience. I was replaced by Steve Scott who is slightly older than me, but much hairier.
I would return to TV in the noughties, but in the meantime I scuttled back to the GLR breakfast show, this time co-presenting with Claire McDonnell. I talked about West Ham a lot again. This time something happened.
In the summer of 1998 I received a phone call from Paul Aldridge, managing director at West Ham,  asking if I wanted to be the new stadium announcer. Curiously I said no. I enjoyed letting off steam from my seat in the West Stand Upper. I wasn’t sure shouting at the players would be in the job description. Paul asked me to come in for a chat. So I did, just to poke about behind the scenes if I’m honest.
After three days he asked again, and this time I said yes. I’d had a recurring dream the previous nights that Rio Ferdinand would head the winning goal in the World Cup Final at France 98. I dreamt I would announce him as a hero at the start of the new season, like Bobby Moore, Martin Peters and Geoff Hurst were greeted in 1966.
The trouble with dreams is their habit of fading and dying. Rio was an unused substitute at the World Cup. England were knocked out by Argentina in the second round. David Beckham was sent off for petulantly kicking out at Diego Simeone and quickly became public enemy number one.
When the fixtures came out for the new season, West Ham’s opener was away at Sheffield Wednesday, followed by David Beckham’s Manchester United at home. I went to Hillsborough on the opening day, the first time I’d been back since the disaster. It was strange and I felt very emotional. I got through it because I was sitting next to curly haired pop star David Essex. His twin boys had the largest bag of pick and mix sweets you ever did see. Reluctantly at their father’s suggestion they even shared some with me.
Veteran striker Ian Wright scored on his league debut for us, and I found myself singing,  ‘Ian Wright, Wright, Wright. Ian Wright, Wright, Wright’. With Wrighty a long time Gooner, it wasn’t a song I ever thought I would sing.  Fortunately I discovered I knew all the words.
Driving back from Hillsborough I couldn’t wait for my debut at the Boleyn Ground the following week, announcing my team against Manchester United, David Beckham and all.
But we’ll save that for the next column.

Up the Irons

Jem

www.jeremynicholas.co.uk

Putting the ‘U’ in Humour

Jem with cowboy hat and arrow smiling

One of my most popular talks is on how to use humour effectively when you are speaking in public.

As a professional speaker I use humour a lot.  It helps keep the audience engaged. If they are being entertained, they are less likely to switch off and stop listening.  It’s so much easier to put your message across if your audience are still listening!

I’m rarely the slickest speaker at an event, but I’m often the one who gets rebooked. I put a lot of that down to humour. People remember the message if they enjoyed the journey.

If you’ve seen this talk, you’ll find the accompanying notes I promised below.  If you haven’t seen the talk, read the notes anyway. They will certainly help you if you want to put some humour in your speeches.  The twenty points work just as well for toastmasters, best men, teachers, team leaders, comperes  or even  priests who want to make their sermons more entertaining.

If you read the twenty points and are intrigued as to why the Welshman isn’t needed at the pub (point 15) then you better book me to speak at your event.  Details are at the bottom.

Best wishes

Jem

(Jeremy Nicholas- London, Nov 1st 2009)

clown sad face

PUTTING THE ‘U’ IN HUMOUR

How being funny can enhance your public speaking

By Jeremy Nicholas, Professional Speakers Association

1. Why be funny?  – People will remember your message.

2. Never tell jokes!  It puts pressure on the audience to laugh.

3. Use funny lines and observations from real life.

4. Never steal material, but it’s OK for inspiration.

5. Always carry a notebook. Write down things that make you laugh.

6. If you don’t believe in a line, don’t use it. People will notice.

7. If a line doesn’t work dump it. You must kill your babies.

8. It’s better to be an amusing speaker than a comic.

9. Avoid anything racist, sexist or homophobic. It’s not acceptable.

10. Check anything that is likely to offend in a local culture.

11. Find your own style.

12. Keep a high status on stage. Don’t become a clown.

13. Comedy is truth and pain.

14. If a line is cruel, make yourself the butt of the joke.

15. The Rule of Three means there’s no need for a Welshman in the pub.

16. Get it right. A nearly accurate punch line won’t work.

17. Use your best material in your opening minute.

18. And your next best material to close with.

19. Be topical.

20. Lastly mix humour with information. If they don’t laugh, you’re still speaking!

This is a handout from a talk called Putting the ‘U’ in Humour by Jeremy Nicholas.

To book Jem to deliver this talk at your business event, or to find out details of his other talks, please visit www.jeremynicholas.co.uk.  Email jem@jeremynicholas.co.uk. Phone +44 (0) 7802 251530

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

Alvin Law interview- part 1

Here’s part one of an interview with brilliant Canadian speaker Alvin Law.

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Alvin was born with no arms, a victim of the thalidomide drug.  I was inspired by this amazing man, who plays the keyboard with his toes.

He’s a natural storyteller and I’ve seen few who are better at holding an audience’s attention.

I  have no hesitation in recommending Alvin for your event, if you are looking to inspire your team.

More details on Alvin Law here

Phillip Van Hooser interview

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Phil Van Hooser pic 2

Picture courtesy www.vanhooser.com

It was a great to meet the National Speakers Association President Phillip Van Hooser.

I interviewed Phil at the Professional Speakers Association convention in November 2009 in the UK.
He was the only American at my talk ‘Putting the ‘U’ in Humour’. Afterwards I was worried that I might have picked on him a bit during my workshop session to illustrate how humour varies around the world. I feared I might have jeopardised my chances of ever speaking at an NSA convention, but he was very charming and said how much he’d enjoyed the talk.  Phew!

Tim Gard with me

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Tim Gard pic

Picture courtesy of www.timgard.com

Here’s my interview with Tim Gard, the brilliant American speaker.  He’d just come off stage at the PSA 2009 convention in Marlow. His after dinner set was hilarious.  For me it was extra special because it was my birthday, and Tim invited eight fellow speakers onto the stage and they played Happy Birthday for me on nose whistles!
It wasn’t the most tuneful version, but I will always remember it.

I’d been invited to speak about humour at the convention before I knew that Tim was headlining the event.  It was a bit like being asked to talk about physics and then finding Stephen Hawking is also on the bill.  Fortunately my ‘Putting the ‘U’ in Humour’ workshop was well received and I was delighted when Tim came and found me to give me a copy of his book.

Anyway, enough of the praise, here’s the interview.