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Need ideas for a speech?

Be more persuasive and confident

Get specialist help from me in the following areas:

    1. Writing a speech
    2. Practical skills when giving talks and speeches
    3. Presentation skills
    4. Story-writing
    5. Engaging your audience 
    6. Persuading people, and making an impact with your words

Draw on my wide experience ...

    • Story writing - wrote articles for national newspapers (2003-10)
    • Writing skills - specialist trainer (2008-)
    • Facilitation skills - giving 25+ training courses per anum
    • Reputation - Opened European Commission's Clear Writing Week (2016)
    • Author, Business Writing Skills (2015)
    • TV and radio interviews - as Director, West Midlands Low Pay Unit (1994-2003)
    • Press and media work - Shropshire Council, WMLPU, and other work (1992-to date)


TRAINING COURSE - 23 July, Oxford 

Improve your Talks, Presentations and Speeches


7 Ways to Add Weight to Your Words - READ MY BLOG

The TV debates and hustings for leadership of the Conservative party - even if you positively loathe politics - provide a handy reminder of what works, and doesn’t, when giving speeches, talks and presentations.  

What words and techniques caught your attention? 

Without going into the details, here are my 5 practical takeaways:

  1. Particular words have weight and impact, and they may have a positive or negative sway (‘turbo charge’, ‘risks’ and ‘failed’ caught my ear). 
  2. Body language matters. Hand gestures, pointing and using your fist can add weight and impact, but don’t over-do them.  Likewise, be careful of any tendencies you may have, like wabbling your head from side to side, or putting your hands in your pockets, etc. 
  3. Metaphors and Analogies can help explain things. May’s deal was described as like ‘serving up cold porridge’ again and again (a nice touch); and an extension to Article 50 as like a bit of ‘extra time’ in soccer (easy for people to understand). Here's 3 from Boris Johnson: 'Failed can-kicking approach', 'Restore our Mojo', and 'Free-up our economy'; and 3 from Jeremy Hunt: 'Walk tall in the world', 'Fire-up our economy', and 'Increase the size of the cake' (National GDP).
  4. Achieve impact through repetition and alliteration (Logos) - repeated consonants at the start of neighbouring words.  Boris said: 'We can do that, we will be ready, we’ll come out on October 31st.'  Also, 'Delay does not deliver a deal.'  And Jeremy: 'In poll after poll I’m the public’s preferred choice for PM.'
  5. Get the audience’s buy-in (Ethos) by showing you understand what they are talking about – use case studies or draw on your experience (‘I’ve been there, done that’). Also, address them by their names, but don’t get them wrong!  Two positives from Jeremy: 'One of the safest hospitals is right here in Salford'; and 'I ran my own business, just like you do' (to questioner). But not answering the question can annoy your audience.  Boris was not clear on tax cuts, if he will axe the UK ambassador and he didn't admit to making mistakes over the detention of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, in Iran.  Baisc mistakes don't help either.  Boris said the EU Referendum was in 2017 (not 2016), and got one questioner’s name slightly wrong.
  6. Back up your arguments with details (Pathos).  Jeremy said: 'I have a 10-point plan'  - sounds impressive - and 'We’re not going to get out of the EU with optimism, we need the detail.'  Boris was lesss good here.  He was a bit vague on the Irish backstop, when he spoke of 'An abundant range of solutions.' 
  7. Pace, pause and projection – Draw on these three Ps to your voice. They can win you audience attention, and add weight and conviction to your message.


Need some tips on public speaking? 
The internet has lots of help, and to save you hunting around here is a short video that I found useful (only 1.50 minutes). 


There is an overlap with effective writing
Many of the ingredients for good speeches also apply to written documents, like a case study, website or report.  Here are some ideas on the former


Want some practical help?
If you are in Oxfordshire, a limited number of charities can get FREE help from me for the rest of 2019, as part of my support for the sector.  Help with presentation skills, audience engagement, story-writing and making an impact.  Or come along to my reduced-price course at OCVA on 23 July (10–12.30). 


10 Persuasive writing techniques - READ MY BLOG


  1. Contrasts – ‘That’s one small step for man; one giant leap for mankind,’ Neil Armstrong.

  2. Contradictions (not this but that) – ‘the house we hope to build is not for my generation but for yours,’ Ronald Regan.  ‘September 11th was not an isolated event at a tragic prologue,’ Tony Blair.

  3. Comparisons (more this than that) – ‘For better or for worse, for richer or for poorer,’ marriage vows.  ‘I have taken more out of alcohol and alcohol was taken out of me,’ Winston Churchill

  4. Opposites (black and white) – ‘Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere,’ Martin Luther King.  ‘There is nothing wrong with America that cannot be solved by what right with America,’ Bill Clinton

  5. Repetition – ‘I have a dream … I have a dream … I have a dream,’ Martin Luther King – ‘We shall fight … we shall fight … we shall fight,’ Winston Churchill – ‘Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country,’ John F. Kennedy

  6. Phrase reversals – ‘Thou shouldst eat to live not live to eat,’ Socrates.  ‘Management is doing things right, leadership is doing the right things,’ Peter Drucker

  7. Puzzle & Solution – ‘This is a moment of quite some mixed emotions for me (Puzzle).  I haven’t been on Prime time television for quite a while,’ (Answer), Ronald Reagan

  8. Rhetorical questions – ‘You ask what is our aim? I can answer in one word. It is victory,’ Winston Churchill  – So much for the past what about the future? – So much for the problems. What solutions can we offer?

  9. Putting things in 3s – ‘Education, education, education,’ Tony Blair.  ‘No, no, no,’ Margaret Thatcher.

  10. Lists of items (putting the longest one last) – ‘Father, son and holy spirit’ and ‘Faith hope and charity,’ New Testament.



ABOVE - Me speaking at the 25th anniversary of Writers in Oxford



Messgae to Oxfordshire's third/voluntary sector
Help for you is FREE - till Sept. 2019

My Oxford/Oxfordshire clients

  • Friends of the Earth, Oxford
  • Headington School
  • My Life My Choice
  • Oxfordshire Community & Voluntary Action
  • Oxfordshire Community Foundation
  • Oxford University

My National/County third sector clients

  • Army Families Federation
  • Care Farming UK
  • Directory of Social Change
  • Enfield Voluntary Action
  • Gloucester Community and Voluntary Action
  • Health Information for All
  • Reading Voluntary Action

35 years’ of volunteering for the third sector - LISTED HERE

  • Writers in Oxford – Chair  (2015–)
  • Society for Editors and Proofreaders – Co-ordinator of Oxford group (2012–15)
  • SOVA/New Leaf (2013–) – Volunteer Mentor for ex-offenders/Board Member
  • Shrewsbury Samaritans (1993–2003) – Volunteer, then Deputy Director
  • Frankwell Neighbourhood Community Group in Shrewsbury – Chair (2007–10)
  • Shropshire Fairtrade Network – Co-ordinator (1994–97)
  • Shrewsbury Oxfam Campaigns Group (1994–97)
  • Ministry of Lands, Zimbabwe (1985)

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ABOVE - Pictures from a recent speech - Oxford, June 2019.

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