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You’re busy, I’m busy.  So I keep these little thoughts, all nicked from the TV newsroom, to five pithy paragraphs.  If they’re helpful, do share them!

I got the shock of my life the other day.  A press officer called up the newsroom, spoke to me, and asked if I’d be interested in a story.  She said she thought it might be right for our audience, perhaps in the light-hearted slot before the weather.

She hadn’t emailed me.  She hadn’t used Mailchimp.  She hadn’t sent me anything at all.  What she had done, I thought to myself, was rather revolutionary.  She had actually communicated with me, making me and my programme feel valued.  And that made me warm to her — and her story.  So I then asked her to email me all the details.

Somewhere over the last twenty or so years, it seems to me, our ideas of communication have got scrambled.  I do it myself running my business: I’ll reach the end of the day and feel that because I’ve sent fifty emails, I’ve communicated with fifty people.  But I haven’t really: I’ve offered information to fifty people who are probably drowning in information already, possibly annoyed some of them, and may well have been ignored by most of the rest.

So I try to call people more these days, and it’s having wonderful results.  I think using speech shows you actually care.  A very senior TV News Editor confided in me once that when he gets a complaint, before he touches his keyboard he tries to call the person to talk it through.  They’re usually so flattered that peace immediately breaks out.  When I run my TV News themed business-skills workshops, I try and call up as many of the guests as possible a day or two beforehand to ask them what they hope to get out of it.  Several have told me it puts them at ease about something they may have been a bit nervous about.

Of course, you can’t call everyone, all the time.  Calling up someone who has no reason at all to want to hear from you amounts to cold-calling, and I’m not recommending too much of that.  But if a relationship is already established, I’d suggest picking up the phone as soon as possible.  It might be the shock that jump-starts the relationship.

If you’d like to find out more about how I create mini-newsrooms in your workplace to help your staff develop their focus, timekeeping and decision-making, do give me a call on 01273 606246 or 07850 188620!   Though an email will be welcome, too …

Pic courtesy of arstechnica.co.uk

You’re busy, I’m busy.  So I keep these tips to five pithy paragraphs.  Spread the word if you find them worthwhile! 


People quite often ask me what it’s like to read the TV news.  “Don’t you get nervous speaking to all those people?  How do you concentrate with all that chatter going on in your ear through your earpiece?  It must take lots of training!”  My response is always that it’s a lot easier than you might think.  But at a networking event the other day, somebody put it to me another way.

“I imagine it’s a bit like what we’re doing right now,” she said, looking conspiratorially around the room.  “You’re concentrating on what one person’s saying, and talking to them yourself, but let’s face it, all the while you’re perfectly aware of what’s going on around you and maybe even half listening to a conversation next to you …”

I thought to myself what an honest and accurate assessment that was.  Yes, as a newsreader you of course want the audience to have your undivided attention — you want to convey the gravity, or humour, of a news story in a way that is appropriate.  But you will also be tuning in to the director in your ear telling you that the next live interview is ready, and they’ll be in the big screen over your left shoulder … stand by, ten seconds …

It’s a form of multi-tasking.  And we all do that.  So my tip this week isn’t about how to read the news.  It’s about self belief.  If there’s a job in your workplace that you really want, but you’re sure you couldn’t possibly do it because you lack the technical skills, ask yourself whether you might be using those skills already but in a different place … out networking, perhaps, or organising the kids each day, or performing in your team on the sports pitch.

Of course, it may be the case that people in that job you crave rather like to give the impression it’s all terribly difficult, and only a gifted few could possibly do it.  But I’d urge you to question that.  Heart surgeon, airline pilot, rocket scientist — I certainly don’t have the technical expertise to do them.  But some things don’t need great technical expertise.  Reading off an autocue, in my view, is one of them.  Maybe your next job is one of them, too.


You can find out for yourself how easy it is to read off an autocue on the homepage of my website — or by coming to my next newsroom themed workshop in Brighton on 10 November!  And if you’d like to actually see and hear what’s going on behind the scenes of a TV studio, my ‘Secret Life of a the TV News’ illustrated talk may be a perfect ice-breaker for your next conference or away-day.

You’re busy, I’m busy.  So I keep these tips, all nicked from the newsroom, to five pithy paragraphs.  I hope you enjoy them. 

I was recently reporting for the BBC from a big conference about the state of the south-east’s rail industry.  And I couldn’t get over the irony.  It began on time, but was soon running horribly late.

All the big noises were there in Hastings, pulled in by the undoubted clout of the local MP (and Home Secretary) Amber Rudd.  She was banging heads together as part of her campaign to get a high-speed rail link from London to the East Sussex coast.  There were to be ten guest speakers in two hours.  I knew that because the organisers had provided us all with a printed timetable of who was speaking, and when.

As with so many rail journeys, it began on time — 10am in this case.  But then the delays piled up as the speeches began to overrun.  We reached the 10.25 speaker at 10.34.  He took thirteen minutes instead of the ten he’d been given.  Things chugged along.  The 11am speaker didn’t get underway until 11.16.  We were running really late now.  The final speaker, the Rail Minister no less, was scheduled for 11.05, but didn’t stand up at 11.21.  His ten minute speech took 16.

It’s a problem I often see at events I attend as a BBC journalist.  When I’m hosting them for a client myself, though, I make sure everything runs sweetly to time, and here’s one of my tips.  Decide how much time you want to leave for questions at the end, and then treble it — because the chances are that the speakers will have used half of it anyway.  The Question and Answer session is when you regain the power to get things back on track.  They’d left ages for questions at Amber Rudd’s event so, in spite of the abandoned timetable, the destination end-time was in fact reached punctually.

We adopt a similar little trick when we’re putting together our TV news programmes.  There’s a reason the weather forecast is always at the end.  It’s live — so if the preceding pre-recorded news reports have all been longer than planned, the editor has the power to tell the hapless weather presenter — with very little notice — ‘you’ve got 90 seconds tonight instead of two and a half minutes.’  It’s maddening for the weather presenter, of course, but it does make sure our programmes always begin and end bang on time.  That keeps our viewers happy.  If you want happy delegates at the end of your conference, give yourself plenty of power at the end.

Of course, another way to keep things on time is to invite me to host your event for you.  I love deadlines, and am really strict, in a really nice way, about timekeeping.  And I’ve always got the time to take a call. 

Picture: megankatenelson.com

Try it for yourself ...



Every few weeks I create my TV Newsroom in a funky events room above a pub next to Brighton Station.   It’s a great venue to try it out, whether you’re a sole trader wanting to enjoy its benefits, or a manager wondering if it would be right for your team.  It’s also a chance to meet other like-minded business-people, without the awkwardness of a formal networking event.

My next event is pencilled in for Friday 9 February, 2018.

Here are details of my most recent event -- do give me a call or email me to go on the waiting list for February!

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If you find these forms a bit annoying, just give me a call on 07850 188620 or 01273 606246 — I always like to chat about how I might be able to help.  Or just send me an email letting me know what you have in mind, and we can take it from there.  If you do like the forms, don’t forget to put something in each box marked with a *.

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