Speaking in public – some notes

A few months ago, as part of the job I was doing then, I attended a lunch about the practices behind corporate coaching, i.e. training CEOs and the like of big companies how to talk in public.

Co-incidentally I was talking with a friend in Madrid later that day, and she had been accepted to talk at her local TEDx event. The talk I attended drew many parallels between TED talks and the needs of a corporate presentation.

Below is a summary of some of the notes that I took at the talk and then sent to my friend.

It is important to get the opening right. The entire audience will only give you 100% of their attention for the first twenty seconds. you need to be impressive in those twenty seconds. Leave the housekeeping, like who you are etc for later in the talk.

There are six ways to start a good talk.

  • Set a Challenge
  • Ask a Question
  • Tell a Story
  • Surprise Them
  • Share a problem
  • Show empathy

The following TED talks demonstrates each of these points in their first 20 seconds.

Set a Challenge – How to make hard choices

Ask a Question – How giant websites design for you and a billion others too

Tell a Story – The state of the climate and what we might do about it

Surprise Them – What animal madness means for us humans

Share a problem – Why we have too few women leaders

Show empathy – How to live before you die

The other key point is the End. We remember the last think you say best.

Talks are best illustrated by stories. Facts are boring, stories engage. An example of this is adverts for charities. Which engages more? The one with the fact of how many people are starving or one telling the story of one starving child name Sarah.

Stores have three parts.

  • Start – with the proposition
  • Middle – the stories is expanded, often rising and falling
  • End – summing up of the moral – often more than once.

Use the Intent, Message, Evidence, Audience method to write your story.

Intent – Why? Why are you telling the story?

Message – The idea the audience must know when they leave the room. This idea should be able to be summed up in a tweet, i.e. 140 characters.

Evidence – bring you point to life. Fact inform, stories will be remembered. Remember Facts, Observations, Anecdotes, Metaphors. The further along these four, the more engaging the device.

Audience – Ask “so what?” Think about the audience as an intelligent 16 year old.

Other points include:

  • Use your voice to add meaning.
  • Slowing down acts like a verbal highlighter.
  • Silence signals something important is coming.
  • Presentation speech rate should be around a third slower than conversational speech (around 140 words per minute). This comes from breaking information up and using short sentences.
  • Varying pitch is conversational style and more interesting to listen to.
  • Your body language is important too.

Living My Legend in Stuttgart, part 2

I gave a presentation at Live Your Legend Stuttgart about my journey with Live Your Legend. To find out more about what lead to this event, see this post.

Much of what I talked about I have previously written about on this blog.

My presentation was recorded. I have taken this footage and edited it down into an online with presentation with slides and a transcript. You can also download the slides here.

Minutes before I gave this talk I had just received news that I had got a new job. One that I really wanted. Consequently I was very excited while giving the talk.

The presentation was given in the corner of a noisy cafe. So the sound is not great and the video quality itself is not great because of the lighting. But I think you are able to understand everything that is being said, despite me tripping over my words.

In memory of Hans Rosling

I posted this on my Facebook at the beginning of February, but I thought it deserved to go on this blog as well…

“When I grow up I want to be Hans Rosling”. Today I learnt the great man has died. His was the first TED talk that I ever saw. Every one of his talks are my favourite TED talks. He is the reason that in the last 15 months I’ve attended 7 TED events. I even referenced him in my Masters report. RIP Hans Rosling. You were great.


Living My Legend in Stuttgart

I started this blog in November 2015 as part of following the Live Your Legend (LYL) website. Throughout the following twelve months I had a lot of time and I tried to follow everything LYL suggested. My take on their philosophy was that you won’t know what you are truly meant to do in your career until you truly know yourself.

In that year I followed up on each of their blog posts, I did two of their courses, I went to other events, meetings, groups and courses. Trying lots of new stuff.

Then in November 2016 I got a new job. Not the job that LYL was leading to. But a full-time job that paid money. I needed it. From then on I did not follow every thing LYL posted about. I think a lot of it started to become repetitive anyway. But they had set my course in motion towards “living my legend”. I continued with all the new stuff I had been doing. I think, whether consciously or sub-consciously, I was continuing my self discovery.

One of the LYL courses that I did was “Connect With Anyone” (CWA). As part of this course I was put in a mastermind group which was given the name Cepheus. After CWA had finished, Cepheus remained a cohesive group. With members in London, Germany, Madrid and Denmark, we meet every week via Skype for an hour. I have found this group invaluable in helping me maintain the momentum of moving to something new and better in my life. LYL talks about having an accountability buddy to help you keep to your plan. Cepheus has become my accountability buddy.

Recently, because of LYL and Cepheus, two significant things have happened to me. Almost simultaneously.

As I had been at my new job for some months, I had to take some annual leave. I decided to visit one of the members of Cepheus – Annie in Stuttgart. As she was a member of her LYL Local group, I wanted to visit them then.

This snowballed, from just a visit, to me giving a presentation at their meeting. Also two other Cepheus members, Jonas and Miriam, visited from other parts of Germany. The meeting with LYL Stuttgart and with other Cepheus members all went really well. It was an incredible weekend. Much better than I could have imagined.

The presentation that I gave was about my journey with LYL so far. I gave a Keynote presentation and much of it was taken from this blog. At the end of the presentation I was able to report of some really good news. Which is the second of the significant things.

I got my current job back in November 2016. It was more or less the same kind of job that I had previously had. Not the great change that I wanted from doing LYL. However I had not had much employment in the year before this and I needed a job. And it was a job I could do well.

But as I had been following LYL, I had reframed my CV, my LinkedIn profile, the things that I was saying to employment agencies and, I think, my mindset. I had been pursuing the work I really wanted to do. Admittedly when I got my current job, I seem to stop. But, in the background of my life, the momentum was still there.

In late January an employment agent approached me with a new job. I thought there was no harm in looking and it turned out to be a very good fit for me, both in terms of the skills and experience that I had, but also in the direction that I really wanted to take my career. The application process when on for weeks and weeks.

Then literally ten minutes before the LYL Stuttgart event I got a call from this new employer saying that I had got the job. My final slide in my presentation at the event was asking the question, does LYL work. I think this news of my new job proves that it does.

My presentation was videoed. I have editing it, made a transcript and a PDF of the Keynote. These are available at this post.

Live Your Legend Stuttgart
Live Your Legend Stuttgart
Cepheus in Stuttgart
Cepheus in Stuttgart

TEDxEastEnd 2017


On Saturday 25th February I went to TEDxEastEnd 2017 at the Hackney Empire. I went last year and it was the best TEDx that I had ever been to. This one was better! I went there with half a dozen of the volunteers from last year’s TEDxWandsworth.

Most of the speakers were excellent. A couple were dull, not because their subject was dull, but because their presentation did have enough pep. Here are the ones that stood out for me.

Jeremy Burge, emoji expert. Talked about emojis. Their history, the politics of emojis, the way they are a universal language, and the fact that each device will display a subtly different set of emojis.

One political point he highlighted was that originally all the people in the coloured emoji set were white. Then they were yellow, but because the world had been educated on the Simpsons, we all know that yellow in cartoons just means white anyway. Now there are available a wide range of skin tones for emojis, but generally they are still yellow skinned.

Another political point is that on the iPhone the gun emoji is a water pistol. Which might seem great that Apple have removed the gun. But if an Apple user want to text about a water pistol, all recipients on other platforms will still receive a gun. Not quite the message one wants to send in a water pistol fight.

Ministry of Stories is brilliant Harry Potter-esque shop in London, where you can buy jar filled with sweets but labelled with things like “eye of newt” or “ogre’s toenails” (I just made these two up, but you get the idea). The shop also encourages children to write stories and letters. As part of this talk some 8 to 10 year old read the letters that had been sent and receive to other kids in America. As well as letters they had written to their future selves. A great idea for kids, to get them to write to their future selves.

Babak Ghassim and Usama Elyas are two comedians from Germany, although I’m assuming (by the topic of they presented) they are also refugees from the Middle East (or sons of the same). They did not do a comedy skit, but instead spoke what seemed like a poem in German (with accompanying English subtitles, moving video and music). They each spoke alternate lines and it seemed like they were telling the story of a modern day refugee. But in the end it turned out that only one of them was telling the story of a Muslim refugee and the other was speaking the lines of a Jewish refugee from Germany in the run up to the Second World War. Very powerful and very clever.

Babita Sharma is a BBC journalist and presenter, but she told the story of growing up in her parents corner shop. Her parents being Indian immigrants. Hers was a story of immigrants become part of the bedrock of society.

Dhillan Bhardwaj is the Founder of Ratchet Clothing, a million dollar clothing label. He is a young guy (20?) and of South Asian heritage. He was expected to go into the family business but instead has built his own successful clothing range at a very young age.

Emmanuel Opoku moved to the UK when he was nine. He has grown up here, went to school here, did very well academically. But when he went to go to university (UCL no less) he was treated, under recently changed rules, as an overseas student. Meaning he already expensive £9000 per year fee increased to £27,000 per year.

Many other students found themselves in the same position and so challenged this in the courts. Some of them won, but not Emmanuel. Instead he has now held a successful crowdfund to pay for his student fees.

George Marshall is the founder of Climate Outreach and was the oldest presenter in what was a set of generally fairly young presenters. He is one of the leading government advisers on climate change and while he did talk about this, he also talked about how he loved talking with people who disagree with him. As he said, there are only two people who will tell you the truth – those who truly love you, and those who hate you.

Rasheeda Page Muir is a poet and feminist. She gave a rip roaring talk about how feminism needs to move into including men into their cause, and making men’s issues part of their cause. Feminists are never going achieve their aim with  out have men on board, and the majority of men are never going to be on board until they’ve solved their own issue. With this in mind she believes that rap (hip hop) is the way forward. This is a medium through which men can express themselves truly and through which they will truly be reached. She believes that rap and feminism need to become allies.

Alix Fox is a journalist and sex educator and she talked about the three most bizarre sexual kinks that she had been told in her career. The first was of a woman who had two vaginas. The second was a masochist man, who did all sorts of painful things to his nether regions (which I’m not going to repeat here) to receive sexual pleasure. And the third was about sexual synasthesia.

Synasthesia is occur in people where one sense induce sensation in another. The most celebrated is people who see music and various colours. Sexual synasthesia is when sexual excitement or orgasm can produce these hallucination. The examples she gave were in herself, the best orgasms means she can smell lemons. But in an example given to her by another woman, the best orgasm she ever had made her see a tower of green building blocks.

The whole event was held in the wonderful Hackney Empire, and its surrounding buildings, and this year also in the Hackney Museum. We popped down there and were encouraged to make our own screen printed poster. You can see my effort before.

All in all an action packed day. Very very good.






InfoVis – Global population, trade and deaths, Titanic deaths, city data and TED talks

A real hodge podge of data visualisations.

World Population Density

An interactive map where you can select countries for further information presented in graphs.



Global Goods Trade

An animated map which shows the flow of goods trade. You can select individual countries to show only their trade.



20th Century Death

A flat infographic categorising all the major causes of death the the 20th Century.



Surviving the Titanic

An infographics showing the fates of all the people on the Titanic, either individually, or categorised by class or crew.



The art of gentrification: city data made beautiful

Some cool infographics representing various data about cities.



TED Talks data

An interactive presentation where you can explore TED talks by general or specific topic, speaker or alphabetically.



InfoVis – the Tube, immigration, money and Supergraphics

A mix bag of representations of information.

Tuber Map

An interactive Tube map. Lets you select your setting off point and then compare various destinations, showing routes, times and prices. Very intuitive and much better less hassle than TfL’s Journey Planner.


Tuber Map

4 maps that will change how you see migration in Europe

These are just flat maps and nothing cutting edge in the display of information, but they dispel some myths that have been used by Brexiteers.


percentage of immigrant population

How Much Money Have Humans Created?

I have posted a flat infographic about this very topic before, but this is the same information presented in an animated video with a voice over. It certainly gives the information a heavier impression.


These are some very slick graphic visualisations on super human abilities in geometric designs. There are 16 in the album.



Glug November


I went to the most recent Glug event in London and saw some really interesting speakers.


A upright plotter that can draw on a variety of surfaces with a variety of pens and brushes.



Sway – a digital democracy app

An survey app which asks pertinent questions for the time we live in. It’s aim is to move towards gauging opinion better than current polling tools.



NB Studio

Presented there re-branding of Ravensbourne University. They presented some of the feedback they got and much of the negative ones involved guns. Does this say something about university students. The branding itself is not you usual university branding.



A sound design studio. They presented some of their music and soundscapes.


Google Creative Labs

Hana Tanimura presented. She is an Australian with Japanese heritage who grew up in Switzerland. She was once told “Go back to China, Pocahontis” (obviously by a very confused xenophobe).

I liked the project called Super Sync Sports which was encouraging people to download Chrome browser and link it with their smart phone to play games.

Human After All

Talked about Weapons of Reason, an irregular magazine they publish. Each issue covers a global issue theme and is worked on for many months, each article well-considered and the art that accompanies it is specially commissioned. The magazine looks amazing. There will only be a set number of issues.




Also showed off a report they designed for the World Economic Forum. Not a groundbreaking piece, but quite nice for its genre. I liked their iconography.


Just like Earth, only more so…