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If you promise a break, don’t break your promise

When the time’s right, I do enjoy a nice cup of tea or coffee, and I’m sure you do too. But I emphasise the word ‘time’ in that sentence, because this little thought is all about timekeeping in front of an audience.

I was at a big training event a couple of years ago. The agenda looked pretty challenging. An intro from the organiser, then three speakers back to back, followed by a break for coffee, and two more speakers. Things didn’t get off to a promising start — the organiser’s intro over-ran, a couple of minutes were lost when the first speaker couldn’t work the powerpoint, before she then overran. The next two speakers were having so much fun chatting away on stage that they overran too.

At this point, to my relief, the organiser stepped in and pointed out that things were overrunning a bit, but then, to my horror, in a jolly tone, told us that we’d just skip the coffee so we could get the rest of the speakers in before lunch. At this point I was very naughty and hatched a plan to sneak out at the next possible moment and find some coffee for myself in a cafe over the road. I just wasn’t taking anything in any more.

Several months later, at a very buzzing Business Breakfast, a more surprising problem. The host popped up between speakers to explain that she was sure we’d all understand, but it looked as if we’d not finish on time because things were running away from us a bit. Well, I did mind actually. I had planned a Business Meeting, to follow on from my Business Breakfast, at 10am.

A few weeks after that, in a startlingly warm hotel in Copenhagen, a sixty minute Q&A with a fascinating guest, including questions from the audience, finished bang on time. Very Danish, I thought. But because the fascinating guest had taken up 58 of those minutes, there was only time for one question.

Maybe this all puzzles me because I work in a TV newsroom two days a week, where 1.28pm, 6.28pm and 10.28pm are simply non-negotiable. (When I worked at a rather fun national radio station the deadlines were every half hour.) Or maybe I’m just a bit uptight and need a nice cup of tea to relax. But I suspect I’m not alone. Come along to my next Newsroom Bootcamp for Business* and we can practice confidence with timekeeping together. Breaks — and plenty of tea and coffee — included.

*just tap this into Eventbrite and you should find more details and some nice photos of the last one in January.

I’m not a dad, so I can’t be sure of this, but I suspect that if you’re a young man of 17 and your girlfriend tells you she’s pregnant, you might be a bit scared.  More so, if you’re already struggling at school and unsure what the future holds.

The other day I met a young dad who had experienced precisely that moment.  It was the end of my Employability Express workshop with the Heathfield Works! charity, where I was leading a small group of young adults who had left school at the first possible opportunity.

David was the pupil who took up my final challenge: to be interviewed, on camera, unrehearsed, in front of the rest of the group.  I asked him to give me an actual example of when he had shown courage.  “When my daughter was born”, he said.  I caught me breath.  I hadn’t seen that one ahead.  “I wanted to faint, but I had to keep strong — I had to catch her with a towel.”  The room was silent.  “Fatherhood is hard” he went on — “but you’ve just got to cope.  It’s not your life anymore. It’s someone else’s.  I’ve got a responsibility to make it the best I can for her.”

Until that moment, I’d never thought of fatherhood as a job qualification, but what a glorious example David had just provided us all.  Young man or young woman, when you’re 18 and need to demonstrate responsibility, stamina and courage, you may not have to look further than the toddler at your feet.

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!

Get in Touch

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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