ARE you sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin. This is a story about media and presentation delegates who are their own worst enemy – or rather, who let their bodies be their own worst enemy.
When we talk about body language in a Bluewood course, we don’t worry too much about the physical tics or ‘tells’ so beloved of pop psychology and shows about bad boys playing cards. Most people, journalists included, are rubbish at decoding body language and I have to include myself here – I used to tell delegates the basis of the phrase ‘a downright lie’ was because we tend to look down, and right, when telling a real whopper. Then I spoke to a behavioural psychologist while working on an article, and he said that actually it’s often a sign that the speaker is ‘building’ an answer, and the building could be that of a lie, or simply putting some bits of information together to make the answer.
What we’re much more concerned with is how your body language, and the things you do with your body, affects performance. Let me give you an example. When doing TV work, for a studio interview, while seated in a chair, we tell delegates to plant their feet firmly and have their knees at 90 degrees. One delegate who was told this, duly ignored it, crossed his feet at the ankles and tucked them up pointing back towards the base of the chair. Said chair was a swivel model. Within a few seconds, under stress from the lights and the camera and a moderately difficult question, his adrenaline kicked in and his feet got the message to either start running or fighting – the body’s response to adrenaline. They couldn’t do either, and were not grounded on the floor at least giving his fight-flight instinct some sense that he was in touch with the ground, and he started jiggling his knees. Then he started swivelling to and from in the chair. When he watched the playback, he was astonished at how much he moved. And he kept his feet anchored next time.
It’s the same with crossing your arms – but that’s another story…
Written by Matt Guarente – www.bluewoodtraining.com – June 2010.
…behave in a press conference.
Conducting oneself correctly in a press conference should be seen as a prerequisite. It’s a public press-call intended to generate media attention.
We have worked extensively with clients over the past few years teaching them the ins and outs of holding and speaking at press conferences, specifically in crisis situations.
Someone that clearly slipped through the net however, was John Terry:
Someone should have given him some training before letting him make such a “big mistake”…
One thing we teach all of our delegates to be aware of is the infinite importance of body language.
You can have the most pristine messages in the world. But if you’re body is saying something else, then you can forget the messages – they won’t count for a thing. Your body language will do the talking for you.
And there was a corker of an example of this from Samantha Cameron and Carla Bruni today on their first day together, in which the two women attended a ceremony to mark the 70th anniversary of General Charles de Gaulle’s call to resist the Nazi occupation of France.
As required, the official photos saw them smiling and presumably getting on. But it wasn’t long before their body language said it all – they clearly weren’t!
Gemma Carey www.bluewoodtraining.com
Branding. It’s a key aspect of any business. A brand identity reflects your company’s values, services, identity and generates customer loyalty right?
Try telling that to Stelios; according to the FT and relayed here by Sky News he’s threatening to change the EasyJet brand:
Of course he knows what he’s doing. But after years of building up a such strong definitive brand, is it worth risking it in a losing battle like this?
Gemma Carey, www.bluewoodtraining.com
There was a rather strange rant against the media from Barack Obama recently, as he warned that technologies like the iPad and Xbox put pressure on democracy and turn information into “a form of entertainment”.
It came as he was giving a speech at Hampton University in Virginia. He told graduating students that education was the key to progress. Fine. But went on to say that he believed that continuous news coverage created a sense of chinese whispers…
“You’re coming of age in a 24/7 media environment that bombards us with all kinds of content and exposes us to all kinds of arguments, some of which don’t always rank all that high on the truth meter. With iPods and iPads and Xboxes and PlayStations – none of which I know how to work – information becomes a distraction, a diversion, a form of entertainment, rather than a tool of empowerment, rather than the means of emancipation.”
Hmm. Surely an increased accessibility to politics can only be a good thing given that it’s increasing awareness?
Obama is getting rather well known for criticising the media. His main criticism being that he thinks it focuses on trivial matters rather than serious issues. But it all gets a bit strange as he continues: “All of this is not only putting new pressures on you, it is putting new pressures on our country and on our democracy.”
He then used an anecdote about Thomas Jefferson, the principal author of the Declaration of Independence, in which he warned against apathy in the 21st century media environment:
“What Jefferson recognised … that in the long run, their improbable experiment – called America – wouldn’t work if its citizens were uninformed, if its citizens were apathetic, if its citizens checked out, and left democracy to those who didn’t have the best interests of all the people at heart.
Is it just me? Surely he’s arguing against his own point here?
He continues, “It could only work if each of us stayed informed and engaged”. Right, and a prime way of doing this is in staying abreast of political issues by keeping up to date with news and current affairs via the media.
Although a tad extreme, I do wish own politicians would take note of Obama’s points on appropriacy. Only recently we at Bluewood were despairing at their use of texting and social media during sombre political affairs after a new MP was in trouble for taking a photo from the House of Lords during the Queen’s Speech and then posting it on the internet.
And of course Liberal Democrat negotiator Danny Alexander was apparently receiving secret text messages from Lord Mandelson about the position of the Labour Party negotiating team, whilst he was sitting across the table with colleagues trying to negotiate a coalition government.
Somewhere inbetween then please…..
Written by Gemma Carey, Bluewood Training Ltd
One pub landlord singlehandedly struck a major blow to the credibility of Britain’s biggest pub chain this week.
Punch Taverns has had to “apologise unreservedly” after members of the Labour campaign for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Rights (LGBT) were turned away from one of its pubs.
According to LGBT Labour, the manager of The Greencoat Boy, a pub in Westminster, said that he would not have taken the the booking had he known in advance it was for a gay organisation.
It sounds medieval doesn’t it.
Punch Taverns have had a major damage limitation operation on their hands ever since. They have apparently said they are “shocked and saddened” by the event and have so far released this statement:
“Across our estate, diversity and inclusion are a core part of our ethics and are clearly referenced in our recruitment process, our equal opportunities policy and training. We would like to stress that this is an isolated incident; we have a good track record on equal opportunities and we do not tolerate homophobia in our pubs, whether from guests to other guests, or involving our employees.”
Punch Taverns said it was investigating what had happened and would co-operate with both police (who were called to the scene on Friday evening) and the campaign group.
LGBT Labour said it welcomed the apology and hoped there would be a positive outcome to the matter, with improved training for managers on equality issues and a focus on welcoming gay and transgender customers.
James Asser, the co-chair of LGBT Labour, said: “Thanks to 13 years of a Labour Government it is now illegal to be turned away from a bar because of your sexuality. We were surprised by the shocking action of the Greencoat Boy public house management. “Turning people away for being gay is outrageous – he should have been defending his customers from homophobia.”
I personally think they should make the pub manager himself face the music.
Sarah Ferguson’s comeback performance this week was a wonder to behold wasn’t it?
There would no doubt have been much PR brainstorming ahead of the hour-long interview. So really, was this the best they could come up with?
The interview recorded for the Oprah Winfrey show aired yesterday on US daytime TV, in which the Duchess of York talked about herself in the third person and broke down in tears, blaming her behaviour on everything from alcohol to grief and near-bankruptcy.
“There aren’t many words to describe such an act of gross stupidity,” she told Winfrey, after being forced to watch the recording of the event in which of course a News of The World reporter, posing as an Indian businessman, agreed to pay her $500,000 in order to gain access to her former husband.
As the tape ran so she started referring to herself in the third person: “Poor love. I feel sorry for her — she looks so exhausted.” It got worse. “You pull away the onion skin, and you’ve sort of merged the dark and the light of Sarah”. And worse still. “I’m a tiny little newborn chick”.
Not much in the way of acceptance of blame, but rather a “poor Sarah” act to avoid it.
Does she really think the public are going to be stupid enough to accept this rubbish. And more to the point does her PR advisor? Sincerity was really what was need here and yet there was not a shred of it.
We’re not sure even our crisis-handling tips could help her out of this one.
“You on that tape — that is spiritually, morally bankrupted person,” said Winfrey at the end of her interview. Ferguson agreed: “That’s genius”.
You could not make it up.
Gemma Carey, Bluewood Training Ltd www.bluewoodtraining.com