Jacqui Harper MBE is one of Britain's most experienced and respected broadcasters and corporate trainers. She has anchored news and current affairs programmes for BBC TV, Sky News and GMTV...
Brian Collett, who co–operated with Jacqui Harper in producing this book, has spent a lifetime in journalism, listening to and interviewing a range of people, from the proverbial men in the street to prime ministers and national presidents.
In his early days as a reporter he recalls sitting through local council meetings in which the elected representatives of the people droned on in their monotones, dealing with such exciting subjects as road widening and stopped–up sewers.
He recalls attending a conference in more recent times at which half the speakers literally succeeded in persuading delegates to nod off. “We could have died in our sleep listening to some of them,” he says.
Yet neither the mundane councillors nor the conference speechifiers needed to be so boring if they had attended to their presentation skills. Roads and drains are important and the message that something is happening in a community should be put across in an interesting and relevant way. The same applies to any conference. If the organisers think the subject merits a conference it is the speakers’ duty to communicate their information and views to those who pay to attend.
Brian was learning this fact of public life subconsciously and unintentionally as he moved through a journalistic career – what he calls his “criminal record”.
He began as the cliché reporter on a bicycle, riding up and down Welsh hills to gather news. He worked on other local and provincial newspapers, including the Western Daily Press in Bristol, where many a good journalist wept and gnashed his teeth but learnt the principles of the trade. His provincial newspaper journey ended with several editorships.
He spent nearly 12 vital, productive years on The Times, and around this time worked as a freelance on other national newspapers, including the redtop tabloids. He feels The Times widened his scope for what was to come. Life after The Times has been devoted mainly to freelance writing. Brian calls it a patchwork experience of business journalism, newsletter editing and ghost writing.
He comes back to presentation. He sees many lost opportunities for enlivening subjects from the platform or the dinner top table. “These are the days of communication, yet people seem to be less well informed than they were 30 years ago,” says Brian.
Hence the need for good presentation skills and this book, showing how the experts do it properly.