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You’re busy, I’m busy.  So I try to keep my blogs to six crisp paragraphs.  Thanks for being curious about this one …

Here’s the story of a little failure that lots of people saw because it happened live on TV.

I was presenting a live election debate for the regional TV news on a glorious May evening from the beach at Hastings.  Because we were on location, there was no autocue, so it all had to be memorised.  Even so, I felt truly pampered.  I’m used to researching and preparing a lot of my own reports, but for this showpiece event I was part of a team who had already selected the guests, written me briefing sheets and typed up on smart A5 cards the names, constituencies and opinions of the politicians I’d be interviewing.

Because I’m a belt-and-braces sort of presenter (I don’t have much time for the ‘I’m-so-talentedI-can-just-busk-this’ school of broadcasting) I’d learnt the names and details by heart in the car on the hour long drive from Brighton that morning.  I’d then rehearsed them, along with all the complex issues and permutations of answers they might give, as I’d paced up and down the beach that afternoon.  And I’d rehearsed it out loud again, just to be sure, each time the cameraman and director had walked through the sequence with me in the hour before we went to air.

We then went on air.  The first item to be introduced was complex: a gesture to the sea, a bunch of facts to memorise, a phrase to insert, and all in ten seconds less than originally anticipated because of a late change.  That went fine.   And then it was time to introduce the guests.  (I didn’t even need to remember this: I had the names written down on those A5 cards.)  But that’s when I bungled it.  First name fine, second name, wrong constituency: I said Tonbridge, the candidate represented Folkestone.  Awkward on air correction required.

But here’s the lesson I learnt from this.  My perception was that I had failed, horribly, and let down the whole team.  But actually, the rest of the programme was pretty solid.  Others told me (and I don’t think they were simply being kind) that they’d barely noticed, and that as a team we’d done a decent job explaining complex issues to a voting audience that evening.  So next time you stumble during a presentation, don’t write it off.  You may yet get the job done.  (And, if you have notes on cards — don’t forget to use them!)

Want to have a go reading off my autocue — at one of my business skills workshops?  Have fun working on your deadlines at Headline Deadline in Brighton on Friday 2 June … click here for more details! 

This idea is nicked as much from the gym as from the newsroom, but bear with me.

It came to me the other day in the middle of the Fat Burn Circuits Class at The Gym (Madeira Drive — can’t recommend it highly enough).  Our feisty instructor (Saskia, can’t recommend her highly enough) was about twenty minutes into the half hour punishment session when she looked around at us all beginning to wilt and beamed “Come on guys, it’s called fat-burn for a reason!”


Do you see what she did there?  If not, try this — about ten minutes later, during the delicious cool-down phase (that’s when the pain is over and you’re lying on the floor trying to stretch rather than creak) Saskia said:  “We’ve done a lot of leg-work today, so this is a good stretch for those quads.”


Twice in a few minutes, Saskia had given me a reason to do something.  It meant that I made the connection in my brain between what I was doing, and what it was trying to achieve.  It made doing it easier.  And it made me realise how often in life and at work we chug along doing the same things the same way without reminding ourselves why.


But reminding people why they’re doing something can be very powerful.  In my newsroom world, I’m more likely to be fired up about a news story on hospital reform if my editor has reminded me the latest audience research has shown that health stories matter more to our viewers than any other.  I’ll accept defeat more gracefully when I’m told we’re headlining, say, the arty story instead of the sports story at 10.30pm — if I’ve been reminded it’s part of  a six month strategy to improve audience perceptions of our arts coverage.


Whether you’re on your knees making a case for a decision, or on your knees longing for that post-circuit shower, being reminded why you’re there might help ease the pain.

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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