Public Speeches TED Style

How wonderful that TED (Technology, Entertainment and Design) conferences can be watched for a mere $600 per conference. A platform for the great thinkers of today, the messages may not always be relevant to us as individuals but like all good public speeches they leave us inspired and uplifted.  Now Carmine Gallo has written a book about how to deliver public speeches TED-style.   “Talk Like TED – The 9 Public Speaking Secrets of the World’s Top Minds”.  Gallo says that TED speeches have to be no longer than18 minutes, they have to teach an audience something new, include a few jokes and have a magic revelatory moment.  This is all good and would help, especially with structure.  The biggest problem for someone preparing an important speech is how to put across and maintain with precision, the sensation they felt when the events or facts contained in the speech were experienced by them, to be of crucial importance.  Silicon valley style has hit the public speaking circuit and has shaken things up for the better.  Let’s widen our bandwidth forthwith.
Andrew Solomon closed the Vancouver, Canada  TED March conference with:  Forge meaning, build identity. “Forging meaning is about changing yourself, building identity is about changing the world.”  So now you’ll know what it means if someone tells you to go forge yourself.   Click on Larry Page below and get to see the “Where’s Google Going Next”  TED interview with Larry Page.

Larry Page of Googel
Larry Page of Google


Do Accents Spoil Your chance of Getting a Job?


The girl who called this morning from ITV said she was preparing a piece about how accent prejudice can spoil your chances of getting a job.  She said that’s perhaps why people come on  the Max Your Voice – Speak English Clearly course,  to neutralise their accent.  Of course the main reason why people come to us for coaching in accent neutralisation is to improve their career prospects.
I’ve trained many people to successfully get through job interviews.  If people understand what you’re saying and you’re pleased to be there saying it and confident – then it’s down to how well you can do the job.  In 10 years of coaching people for interviews I’ve only had 3 people who didn’t get the job they were applying for – and it wasn’t because of  their accent.  I’ve had other people who’ve been sent to me by their hospital or company because they are ready for promotion but their accent is holding them back.   Never be deterred – you can learn to speak English with a clearer accent even if your accent is very heavy.  The Turkish restaurant owner  and  Turkish writer S.E. Sever, who both now speak English clearly and beautifully are wonderful examples.

If you speak clearly others listen, if they speak clearly, you listen.

Next Speak English Clearly Course:

June 7th and 8th – 1 Harley Street, W1

Course particpants
Course particpants


UK – Russia Year of Culture

Moscow’s historic Moccobeta Theatre is bringing Uncle Vanya and Three Sisters to Wyndhams Theatre in London this April and I can’t wait.  Directed by Andrei Konchalovsky, it will be in Russian with subtitles.  There have been some great English productions of Chekhov in London during the past few years, but it’s never going to be the same as feeling and hearing the full-blooded Russian version.  In the past Russian Theatre Companies have refreshed  British theatre and inspired others such as Theatre Complicite and Shared Experience.

The Moscow Arts Theatre Academies have had such fantastic productions because of the long time the creative team, including the actors stayed together.   With our own theatre companies we can see how actors thrive over a long period of time working together on different productions.

The Moccobeta productions are part of the UK – Russia Year of Culture, as launched by our Chairman of the Media and Sports Select Committee, John Whittingdale, the former Political Secretary to Margaret Thatcher.  The timing – at the end of the Sochi Winter Olympics – seemed favourable and then came the Ukraine crisis.  We are in the middle of the crisis many feel was caused by the decision Ukraine was forced to make between Europe and Russia.  It is heartbreaking that there is this dichotomy for the people of Ukraine.  My Ukrainian clients all speak Ukrainian and Russian, however there’s a marked difference from primary Russian speakers in their voices, that has transferred itself into the way they speak English.

The last words goes to the hopes of the Russian Ambassador Alexander  Yakovenko:
The UK- Russia Year of Culture
“Organised by the Russian Ministry of Foreign affairs and the British Council, the scope of the festival is ambitious; more than 50 major events will take place across the UK alone.   But what does this blaze of culture mean for the 2 countries?  Relations between our 2 great countries do not always run smoothly and we would be mistaken to think that a cultural festival such as this is the answer to all challenges we face.  I do, however, believe that it signals a way in which relations can be reinvigorated, refreshed and revived.”

Andrei Konchalovsky
Andrei Konchalovsky
The Moccobeta Theatre Company
The Moccobeta Theatre Company

New Acting Talent Needs Support

Helen Mirren expressed her dismay as it becomes more and more difficult for talented actors to find the necessary funding for them to train at the best Drama Schools.  In the past myself and friends have been approached by people who’ve been accepted at Drama School and have needed help to survive while they’re there.  We’ve done our best but what we can give is a drop in the ocean compared to what’s needed.  Some of the best Drama Schools don’t allow people to take on professional jobs while they’re training.  While I understand the necessity for total commitment to the training, shouldn’t there be some arrangement made so that blocks of time can be used for working in the profession?   Patsy Farran who’s in the cast of Blythe Spirit is a student at RADA who’s been given a “sabbatical”. There are bursaries available for Drama School training and for classes at the Actors Centre and the Actors Guild, but perhaps the time has come for a creation of a national pool fund.  If this doesn’t happen we may find ourselves in the situation where raw creative talent goes to waste – and the whole of the industry suffers.
I went to the recent Perform Exhibition and the National Youth Theatre had a strong presence.  They told me about Heider Ali, who’s now a successful actor in his own right and about their 9 month course Playing Up – Heider Ali started on this course.  This sounds great.  There was no one at the Spotlight stand when I was there but the action on the stage at the adjacent Moveit exhibition was electric and there was so much more energy in the dance, so maybe they were taking a peek.

Helen Mirren
Helen Mirren


Nottingham Playhouse Loses £95,000 in Funding

It’s very sad that the relationship between the Nottingham Playhouse and Nottingham County Council has broken down.  It’s not just that the Council has withdrawn £95,000 in funding, it’s also that they have compared the Nottingham Playhouse unfavourably with The Newark Palace Theatre.  It’s a little like comparing the National Theatre unfavourably with the New Wimbledon Theatre.  The Newark Palace Theatre does really well with its pantomimes and – this bit is confusing – is run by the Newark and Sherwood district council.  The Nottingham Playhouse is an internationally recognised theatre.

It’s part of an Artistic Director’s job to woo the County Council.  If an Artistic Director’s work is important to them, they learn to communicate with people – all sorts of people – who make that work possible.  Instead, the Playhouse has organised protests and sent in a petition with over 7,000 signatures.  In reply Nottingham County Council has accused the Playhouse of using professional protesters – saying that many of them don’t live in Nottingham….and so it goes on.  Fortunately the withdrawn funding is only a fraction of what the Playhouse receives from the Nottingham City Council and the Arts Council.

At the moment the Threepenny Opera is on at the Nottingham Playhouse.  It’s a 3 hour show that’s been produced in conjunction with Graeae, Birmingham, New Wolsey and West Yorkshire Theatre Companies.   All theatre companies with great reputations.  However, Brecht’s Threepenny Opera doesn’t always have mass appeal.  It can be as vibrant, enchanting and heartbreaking as Slava’s Snow Show but as an epic story, told the way that Brecht instructed, it can also alienate an audience.  The poignancy, in the Nottingham Playhouse’s production is there to soften this and you’ll be able to see this and all the tremendous music and action when it goes on tour.   This wasn’t always the way.  There was a previous production of the Threepenny Opera at the Nottingham Playhouse – around the time of the first Punk Bands, when the singing of the lead female singer was so excruciatingly and piercingly awful – it left you numb.  The Artistic Director argued at the time, that this was Brecht’s intention.  Perhaps it’s the memory of this voice that has tipped the present decision of the Nottingham County Council into the negative.   However, they should have got over it by now.

Stephanie Sirr, the Chief Executive of the Nottingham Playhouse is optimistic that the relationship with the Nottingham County Council will improve.  She says:
“We have tried to keep working in partnership with Nottinghamshire County Council and will continue to do so. We hope this situation is temporary and that they will be able to be come back to the table in due course. I’d like to thank everyone who supported our campaign to keep a funding link with Nottinghamshire County Council and assure them that we will continue to make outstanding theatre, which will tour regionally, nationally and internationally.”

The Threepenny Opera at the Nottingham Playhouse
The Threepenny Opera at the Nottingham Playhouse

Angela Merkel’s Speech to Both Houses of Parliament

Angela Merkel’s speech to both Houses of Parliament was perhaps a public reply to David Cameron’s previous speech on Europe.  There’s a lot of wooing of Angela Merkel going on with David Cameron.  Power is sexy – and Angela Merkel is powerful.  We may or may not want to be part of the EU but we are part of Europe.  You don’t have to be an anthropologist to know that our links are deep, especially the links of our royal family.  Even in the present day, our links are deep.  As Peter Morgan pointed out in a conversation between Churchill and Queen Elizabeth in his play The Audience:

“Churchill:  Mountbatten was the adoptive name your husband took when he became a British citizen.  His real name, you’ll hardly need reminding, was Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glucksburg of the Royal Houses of Denmark and Norway, and latterly of Greece.  A convention of genealogists couldn’t pinpoint that man’s roots.”

Angela Merkel’s speech was partly in German – interpretation here – and partly in English.  Having heard her speaking in English, I wonder if the interpreter has picked up the drive behind her words?

David Cameron greets Angela Merkel
David Cameron greets Angela Merkel