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Alan Barker
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This book supports my course, The Essentials of Speechwriting, which I run regularly for the European Speechwriter Network. If you would like to discuss running this course in your organization, or if you would like to book a place on the Network's public course, please contact Brian Jenner: Enjoy! Download Essentials_of_Speechwriting_background_book_v2 Continue reading
Posted 11 hours ago at Distributed Intelligence
People often ask me to recommend books about creative thinking. Here's a short list of the books that I've found most useful over the years. A reminder: I run courses on creative thinking, problem solving and innovation. Download these course outlines to find out more. Download 015_CO_Meeting_Creative thinking_doc Download 014_CO_Meeting_Problem solving_doc Download 013_CO_Writing_Managing_Innovation_outline Contact me if you're interested in working with me in any of these areas. First, some books I simply have to recommend, because I know the author so well. Click on the covers to find out more. Casting the reading net further afield, I would probably start... Continue reading
Posted Sep 30, 2016 at Distributed Intelligence
This free e-book appeared in my inbox the other day, courtesy of the Human Givens College. It's worth sharing. I find the HG approach very sympathetic, and, although I have no background in therapy or counselling, the body of ideas that I've found in the HG community continues to inspire me in my work on communciation skills, problem solving, creativity, persuasion and influencing. It's also proved invaluable personally. This useful introduction is written by Julia Welstead. Julia is a human givens practitioner with a private practice in Edinburgh. She also runs HG-based training days on mental health at work for... Continue reading
Posted Sep 29, 2016 at Distributed Intelligence
It’s clearly a question lots of people want to answer. It's the question most often asked on the training programmes I run. (You can find a typical outline here: Download Kairos_EquityReportWriting_proposal). My Slideshare presentation, How to Write an Equity Research Report, has enjoyed 33,000 hits since I uploaded it in 2009. (Take a look. Click on the image.) Large investment brokers print maybe 1,000 pages of research each week. And a further 1,000 electronic pages. A large fund management house receives maybe 7,000 envelopes of research in the post every Monday morning. Maybe your report is in there somewhere, competing... Continue reading
Posted Jun 7, 2016 at Distributed Intelligence
I used these slides as part of my presentation on Writing for Impact at the Charity Fair run by the Directory of Social Change, on 24 May 2016. Enjoy. Download DSC_CharityFair_Writing_With_Impact_slidedeck_blogversion_v1 Continue reading
Posted May 21, 2016 at Distributed Intelligence
This is an adapted version of the slidedeck I use on the speechwriting module that I run for the Korean National Diplomatic Academy in Seoul. The slides include references to a workbook that accompanies the course. This link is aimed primarily at students who want a copy of the slidedeck. But it might be of interest to anyone interested in speechwriting. i also run speechwriting courses in other organisations and venues, and run The Essentials of Speechwriting regularly for the European Speechwriter Network. Check out their website for details of the next course. If you want to discuss training for... Continue reading
Posted Mar 30, 2016 at Distributed Intelligence
Houston, We Have a Narrative: Why Science Needs Story Randy Olson University of Chicago Press 2015 978 0 226 27084 5 $20; £14.00 Scientists urgently need to use narrative well, and Randy Olson has developed a set of tools to help them. But the tools can easily become empty formulae, so Olson offers a strategy to help scientists develop an enhanced understanding of narrative: what he calls ‘narrative intuition’. That summary of Olson’s new book a model he calls ‘ABT’: and, but, therefore. Olson borrowed it from Trey Parker, one of the writers on South Park. Hollywood, claims Olson, is... Continue reading
Posted Feb 12, 2016 at Distributed Intelligence
Roger Van Oech, in his book A Whack on the Side of the Head, tells this story. There once was an Indian medicine man who made hunting maps for his tribe. When game got sparse, he'd put a piece of fresh leather in the sun to dry. Then he'd say a few prayers, fold and twist it, and then smooth it out. The rawhide was now etched with lines. He marked some reference points, and a new map was created. When the hunters followed the map's newly defined trails, they usually discovered abundant game. The medicine man had stimulated the... Continue reading
Posted Aug 10, 2015 at Distributed Intelligence
Simon Lancaster Winning Minds: secrets from the language of leadership Palgrave Macmillan, 2015 ISBN 978 1 137 46592 4 £19.99 Books for leaders – and for aspiring leaders – need to combine pragmatism, intellectual credibility and flair. Many leaders are ex-managers: they’re no longer interested in doing things right, but in doing the right thing. They want to know how to inspire. They want ideas that are powerful but not complicated, delivered in a style that’s racy without being superficial. Simon Lancaster manages all this with aplomb. Other political speechwriters have tried to transfer their attention to the broader canvas... Continue reading
Posted Jul 28, 2015 at Distributed Intelligence
An inspirational day last week at the British Science Association, working with the winners of this year’s BSA Award Lectures. The BSA has presented these lectures since 1990; notable past winners include Professor Brian Cox (2006), Maggie Aderin-Pocock (2008) and Richard Wiseman (2002). This year’s speakers are absolutely in that league. The lectures embody the BSA’s vision of a world where science is at the heart of society and culture. They recognise and promote the work of early-career scientists in the UK. Each one aims to engage a broad audience, without at any point diluting the seriousness or complexity of... Continue reading
Posted Jul 13, 2015 at Distributed Intelligence
This ad in the Sunday paper caught my eye. I I was first alerted to the virtues of long copy by Andy Maslen. Many of the ideas in this post are his. The consensus on long copy is that it doesn't work. And it probably doesn't work at the two far ends of the buying journey. People with no interest in buying electric heaters will not read this. But then, they probably wouldn't read any copy about electric heaters. And the customer primed to buy one will probably find long copy irritating. But, for the in-betweeners - the prospects who... Continue reading
Posted May 31, 2015 at Distributed Intelligence
This is a webinar I delivered for the student community of ICAEW. It focuses on the skills of confident communication - vital for anyone starting out in a professional career. The three parts of the webinar cover: the roots of confidence; the secret of confident communication; and how to get your point across. The webinar lasts about 45 minutes, with about ten minutes of Q&A at the end. To view the webinar, click here or on the picture. Continue reading
Posted Feb 16, 2015 at Distributed Intelligence
These notes complement my session for the Central London branch of CIPD on 2 February 2015. Download Bring your training to life_notes In these notes, you'll find: How we motivate ourselves to learn Three key needs that all training should meet Bringing your training to life: the 10 commandments Making training memorable Good preparation On setting objectives How to use handouts and workbooks Perfect PowerPoint for training ILM assessment principles You'll also find a trainer observation report form, which you can use to assess a training session or to monitor your own competence. 'Training delivery' is not a phrase I... Continue reading
Posted Jan 26, 2015 at Distributed Intelligence
Here are full details of Stand and Deliver, my seminar on conference speaking, designed exclusively for speakers at conferences run by the Council of Mortgage Lenders. I run this seminar in association with my colleague and good friend, Sue Smith. Numbers for the seminar are extremely limited, so if you are interested, book quickly. Download CML_StandandDeliver_promotionalmaterial_2015_v1 We're running the course at CML HQ, in Bush House, on these dates in 2015: 24 February 1 July 7 October Bush House North West Wing Aldwych London WC2B 4PJ See you there! Continue reading
Posted Jan 22, 2015 at Distributed Intelligence
When you plan a presentation or speech, what model do you use? Many people still cling to the old 'Tell 'em' principle. You know the one. Tell 'em what you're going to tell 'em. Tell 'em. Tell 'em you've told 'em. It might work. Sometimes. Often, however, it fails. Why? Repetition is not the problem; after all, repeating key elements is an essential part of any presentation. Our audience is not reading but listening; we need to build their recall. No, the 'tell'em' principle fails for two other reasons. First, it creates a structure that's built around the material. And... Continue reading
Posted Jan 7, 2015 at Distributed Intelligence
This post is based on material from my e-book, How to Write an Essay. Click on the book cover to download your free copy. A good thesis statement stands behind every good essay. Now, about thesis statements, I have good news and bad news. The bad news is that creating a thesis statement tends to be the toughest part of the essay assignment. Finding something interesting to say is rarely easy; after all, lots of people have already said lots of interesting things. But the good news is that the task involves very little writing. And the really good news... Continue reading
Posted Dec 29, 2014 at Distributed Intelligence
Lupita Nyong'o delivered this keynote speech on 4 December 2014. It's brave and inspiring. And it offers three powerful lessons for any speechmaker. Construct your speech like a symphony. Set up a theme and then develop it in four movements (this is Marcus Webb's idea, not mine): 1. Main theme, excitement (the issue) 2. Variations on the theme (list of facts) 3. Battle or storm (intense, short, a promise of action) 4. Reprise the main theme: triumph (take us to the future) And a coda: affection for, and confidence in, the audience. Nyong'o's first movement actually introduces two themes (in... Continue reading
Posted Dec 23, 2014 at Distributed Intelligence
Thanks to Alex Chalk for pointing me towards Michael Clarke's superb eulogy for Phillip Hughes. You can watch it and read the transcript by clicking on the image (my screenshot taken from the BBC website). Clarke demonstrates perfectly how a good eulogy must be planned to the last stroke. When emotion is as raw and unbearable as it is here, every rhetorical technique is essential. This eulogy ticks every single box. You can read the transcript and tick off the rhetorical questions, the antithesis, the three-part lists. This eulogy works under the surface as well as on it. The purpose... Continue reading
Posted Dec 10, 2014 at Distributed Intelligence
The Elements of Eloquence Mark Forsyth Icon Books, 2013 ISBN 978 184831621 8 £12.99 Mark Forsyth’s The Elements of Eloquence differs from his previous bestsellers in two respects. First, it’s 50 pages shorter than either The Etymologicon or The Horologicon, which works to its advantage. Secondly, it does more than catalogue a set of obscure linguistic facts entertainingly. This book might actually be useful. The title is something of a misnomer. Forsyth himself admits that the figures of speech aren’t really the core components of eloquence, but only “one tiny, tiny aspect of rhetoric.” The descriptive metaphor, historically, has been... Continue reading
Posted Nov 20, 2014 at Distributed Intelligence
Thanks to Mark W for an interesting question. Mark had been reading this post about opportunity-led thinking. He asks: I found your article where you reference Robert Fritz's work, notably his book CREATING, and was wondering how your work relates to his. You talk about 'opportunity-led thinking', and I'm seeking to understand how this interfaces with creating and creativity. Can you please clarify? How does it help a person create? Simple answer: the difference between creating and creativity is the difference between a process and a set of techniques. How does opportunity-led thinking help a person create? By developing our... Continue reading
Posted Nov 18, 2014 at Distributed Intelligence
This is a joint post by me (in handsome Georgia) and Imogen Barker (in elegant Trebuchet). Amsterdam in autumn. A lone heron keeps watch over the Herengracht from a car roof. At the Rijksmuseum, a soprano sax sends Bach skirling up into the arches. And behind the welcoming doors of de Burcht, speechwriters from 11 countries meet to discuss their craft. The ESN conference is now firmly established as the go-to European speechwriting event. And it has always welcomed delegates from other continents. This year, 70 of the brightest and best met to inspire and be inspired. As usual, the... Continue reading
Posted Nov 5, 2014 at Distributed Intelligence
Two acceptance speeches; two ways of responding to the occasion. On 8 December, 1962, John Steinbeck spoke to receive his Nobel Prize. (Thanks to Jens Kjeldsen for pointing me towards it.) Read the text here. On 11 June, 2014, actor Kerry Washington spoke to receive the Women in Film Lucy Award for Excellence in Television. (Thanks to Denise Graveline for her astute analysis.) Read the transcript here. Compare, as they say, and contrast. Both speakers were nervous about speaking. "I wrote the damned speech at least 20 times,” Steinbeck wrote. “I, being a foreigner in Sweden, tried to make it... Continue reading
Posted Oct 15, 2014 at Distributed Intelligence
Riveted: The Science of Why Jokes Make Us Laugh, Movies Make Us Cry, and Religion Makes Us Feel One With the Universe Jim Davies Palgrave Macmillan, 2014 ISBN: 9781137279019 £14.44 (Amazon) Kindle edition £9.94 (Amazon) Gazing at a beautiful view from a log cabin; hearing a ghost story; finding yourself glued to pictures of a pile-up on the motorway; reciting the Lord’s Prayer... Are these experiences in any way alike? According to Jim Davies, they are. “Strange as it may seem, compelling things share many similarities.” In this book, Davies claims to do “something that has never been done before”:... Continue reading
Posted Oct 10, 2014 at Distributed Intelligence
This is a webinar I delivered for the student community of ICAEW. It focuses on sentence construction and sequencing. Towards the end, I also answer a number of questions that the audience posted to us during the webinar. The four parts of the webinar cover: what grammar is and why it matters; sentences: what they are, how they work and the three different types of sentence; how to write better sentences; and some of the most frequently asked questions about grammar. Click on the image to access the video. I produced a handout containing answers to questions, together with a... Continue reading
Posted Oct 3, 2014 at Distributed Intelligence
This controversy rumbles on. The basic rule is: Less of amount; fewer of number. (We’ll talk about rules in a moment.) Use fewer when referring to anything that you can count. These days, people buy fewer newspapers. We have fewer women studying science than we would like. Use less when you’re referring to something that can’t be counted or doesn’t have a plural (for example: air, time, traffic, music). At the end of the week I always seem to have less money. Now that I’m singing regularly in a choir, I listen to less music on the radio. We also... Continue reading
Posted Aug 28, 2014 at Distributed Intelligence