Choose your words carefully

I’ve always liked crosswords but during lockdown I’ve been doing one every day as an escape from all the bad news.

There’s a crossword setter in The Guardian called Qaos who definitely goes the extra mile, not only setting great crosswords but also making sure there’s a theme to each one, with lots of the answers fitting that theme.  As speakers we should admire this sort of attention to detail.

Recently Qaos published his 100th crossword in the paper and it didn’t seem to have a theme. There was one, I just couldn’t see it. I’m going to share it with you, and I bet you won’t see the connection either.

There was a link between all the across answers. Once you know it you’ll be amazed at the effort that has gone into making it work. 


Can you see it? A clue is that he did it to commemorate his 100th crossword.

Scroll down for the answer












With it being his 100th it revolved around the letter ‘C’, Roman numeral for 100. Every single across clue could be made into a new word with the addition of a C.


become: INSOMNIAC, COVERT, DECAF etc. I’ll leave you to work out the rest for yourself.

Kudos to Qaos!

Seven ways to help a friend at the Fringe


Somebody you know is doing a show at Edinburgh, what are you going to do about it?

You’ll congratulate them of course, and you’ll probably go and watch the show, but is there anything else you can do to support them?

Yes, there is. Lots.

1. Don’t ask for a free ticket

You might expect your best friend to give you a freebie.

Your old mate from school will get you in free, won’t they?

Surely your only child will put you on the guest list?

Don’t ask for a freebie. It costs a fortune to put on an Edinburgh show. Debut shows would be pretty empty without friends and family. Many performers will be on first name terms with half their audience.

2. Pay the full price for your ticket

I had a friend who came last year and said he’d see me at my show later, but he was off to the half-price hut to see if he could get the tickets cheaper.

He was in bargain hunting mode, not seeming to realise that it would be my pocket subsidising his cut-price seats.

3. Buy your ticket early

Most debut performers will lose money at their first Fringe. They’ll be checking every day to see how many tickets they’ve sold. You can help ease the pressure a bit by buying your ticket well in advance.

There’s a website where artists can click a link, to get a full breakdown of their ticket sales. I reckon I clicked on it four times a day before the Fringe, and then six times a day once I got to Edinburgh.

It’s obsessive behaviour but there’s always the worry that no one will come. Help your buddy out. Get your ticket way ahead of time.

4. Tell people about the show

There are over three and a half thousand different shows at the Fringe. There are not enough audience members to go round. The shows that do well are not the the best shows, they’re the ones that have a good word of mouth.

Performers can spend lots on posters, adverts and flyers, but the absolute best way to get bums on seats is word of mouth. Play your part and tell everyone you know. Don’t be shy about it, shout it from the rooftops.

5. Offer to hand out flyers

A great way to publicise a show is to handout flyers in the street. These are typically A5 leaflets about the show. It’s soul destroying work for the artists themselves. For every ten people you approach, six will stop, three will take a leaflet and maybe only one will engage in a conversation. But some of those ‘one in ten’ people will come to the show.

Offer to do some flyering for your mate. They will love you for it.

Oh, and it means you will become a flyerer. It sounds like a made up word, but it’s not.

I paid some students to flyer for me last year, and I have more lined up this time round. But, I also had great flyering from my sisters and friends.

My wife spent hours in the pouring rain last year handing out my soggy leaflets to people who didn’t really want them. I love her very much.

6. Don’t just ‘like’ posts, retweet them

Your friend or family member will be going full out to publicise the show on social media. They’ll be on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Linkedin and many other apps that only young people know about.

When they do this, they need your support.

For example, if I post about my show on Twitter, I want my friends to retweet my post. I don’t want them just to like it.

If they ‘like’ it, it doesn’t really help. It doesn’t go to any more people,

If they retweet it, it goes to all their followers. Hopefully some of them will retweet it as well. That way its scope is massively increased.

(My twitter is @Jeremy_Nicholas)

7. Remember they’re working

When you arrive in the beautiful city of Edinburgh, you are on holiday. You are visiting the largest arts festival in the world, and it’s time to party!

However, don’t forget your friend or loved one is working. They can’t be out late, drinking and dancing to all hours. They have a show tomorrow, and the next day, and the day after that.

Last year I had friends at most shows. Typically they would come for a two or three day stay and they’d want to go out and play with me. But I was doing my show every day for 27 days in a row, plus guest spots on other shows, flyering, media interviews, podcasts and lots of networking. To be on top form for my show I had to limit my late nights.

So, don’t forget doing a one hour show may not seem like work to you, but to deliver a good one every day takes dedication.


On behalf of all performers thanks so much for your support. We couldn’t do it without our loved ones, colleagues and mates.

And if you’re looking for a show to go to, please check out my funny look at the strange business of public speaking.

Jeremy Nicholas: What Are You Talking About? 

8.25pm August 2-24 at Surgeons’ Hall.         Tickets here. 

Sir Terry Wogan

Here’s a chapter from MediaMasters, a book I co-wrote with Alan Stevens.

We interviewed 25 people from all walks of life on how to come across well in the media.

This is the interview I did with Terry Wogan, from nearly ten years ago. I republish it now as a tribute to the great man who died at the weekend.

 Terry Wogan is a natural performer, a one-off.

He crossed the water from Ireland and become a huge success in the UK,  despite claiming he had no particular plan.

I think we can learn from him that success is not just ability, but likeability.  Terry’s  presented all manner of shows on television and radio and  always with Irish eyes smiling.   He’s not the slickest presenter in the world, but you always feel you are in safe hands, and you know you’ll have a laugh with him.

Wogan didn’t plan to be a major TV and radio personality.  In fact he was selling insurance for five years, before he won a competition to be on RTE the Irish state broadcaster.  

Terry says, ‘I’ve never really been ambitious, I just make it up as I go along.’

‘People who are successful would do well to   remember it’s ninety percent luck.’

I feel like I’ve know Terry Wogan all my life. He’s the only man I let wake me up in the morning, apart from my Dad who brings me a cup of tea at Christmas and Easter.

He’s often called a national treasure, Terry not my Dad. He hosts the breakfast show on the most listened to radio station in the UK, BBC Radio 2. Terry’s the face of the annual BBC charity appeal, Children in Need. He’s large and cuddly like the official mascot, Pudsey the Bear, but without the knotted handkerchief over his poorly eye.

I met him at a Togs convention in Leicester.  Togs are his fan club. It stands for Terry’s old geezers/girls. They meet once a year in Leicester. The convention posters hint at  more exotic locations like Togs 06 L.A and Togs 07 BALI.  But like all Woganesque matters there’s a humorous undercurrent. L.A. is Leicester again and BALI is back at Leicester, innit?

Imagine hosting a breakfast show in London all week and on the Friday, when the jet lag is at its worst, hopping in a car to head a hundred miles up the motorway to meet eighty of your most ardent listeners.

But Terry is as jolly as ever, even if he’d rather be having a nap.

‘You know, I count the hours lost not visiting Leicester’

No-one escapes his wicked sense of humour, especially the loyal Togs.   He refers to them suffering senior moments. There are Togs sweatshirts for sale for charity with the slogan ‘Do I come here often?’

‘These are people of a certain age, but they don’t know it’.

‘They frighten me, as they would frighten any right thinking people’ and with that he looks nervously about before adding, ‘are there any of them around?’

It’s all in jest of course, every single one of the Togs regards him as a personal friend. He’s  been talking to them via their radios in their car, their bedroom, their shower for years.  

No matter how tired the Togmeister, as they call him, might be, he gives them all his individual attention. Every single one of them leaves with a warm glow as if wrapped in a comforting duvet. He earns the highest Tog rating.

As a TV interviewer he came across as a jolly uncle, but his skills should never be underestimated. If ever a man could sum up a situation in just a few words it’s Wogan.  

I remember watching open mouthed as one guest, David Icke made some outrageous statements about being the ‘son of god’. The studio audience started to laugh. Icke, a former BBC sports presenter, seemed to take this a sign that the interview was going well.  It wasn’t. It was car crash TV. Something had to be said and Terry said it.  ‘They’re laughing at you, they’re not laughing with you.’

What tips does Terry have for anyone appearing on TV or radio?

‘It’s not life or death, it’s showbusiness’.

Something we could all do well to remember. The number of times I’ve been chatting to   witty, charming, lively people in the build up to an interview. Once the cameras roll, they go into ‘rabbit in the headlights’ mode.  All personality goes out of the window.  

Not Terry, he’s just the same in real life.

If you want to see Terry really earning his money, watch his interview with Anne Bancroft on YouTube.   The Hollywood star of films like the Graduate hates live TV. So provocative and confident as Mrs Robinson, Bancroft completely clammed up, with the shortest of yes/no answers. ‘You don’t want to be here, do you?’ says Terry.  ‘No’, says Anne.

Being jolly, witty and irreverent for a living inevitably means sometimes upsetting people.

Terry’s charm is that people don’t stay mad at him for long.  It didn’t go down too well in Denmark, when he referred to their rather odd Eurovision presenters as ‘Dr Death and the Tooth Fairy’, but he survived.  In fact his irreverent Eurovision commentary is the only reason most Brits tune in to the TV and many countries opted for years to use the BBC coverage instead of mounting their own.

During a TV show to pick the UK entry for Eurovision, Terry had a senior moment himself. The programme reached a dramatic conclusion with the announcing of the winning act, but Terry announced the wrong name. He had to be corrected by his co-host.

But he’s not one to dwell on mistakes like that, or to blame anyone else.

‘Nobody died. It’s a TV programme. It wasn’t the general election. People got a bit confused’

In a poll in the early nineties he was voted the most popular person in Britain, and simultaneously the least popular. That’s what I call a media master.

I think his secret is not taking life too seriously. In his genial Irish way he gently takes the mick out of everyone, and especially himself.  What do you expect from a boy from Limerick?  Like the Irish city,  famous for its five line poems, you know with Terry, you’ll always be laughing at the end.

TV show with Katie Bulmer Cooke

Jeremy appeared on a new TV show with Katie Bulmer-Cooke from the The Apprentice. It showed him trying to get fit to take the pressure off his after-dinner suit, which has seen rather too many dinners.

The show aired on Sky Channel 117 in the North East in January 5th 2015.

WHAT should the emcee/compere say when introducing you to speak at an event?

I’d like to start with a short introduction.

“Our blogger today is a keynote speaker AND a compere. So he’s ideally placed to tell us what makes a good introduction at an event. With thirty years as a broadcaster he knows how to hold an audience’s attention, please welcome Jeremy Nicholas.”

(Applause as your blogger enters)

What do you mean you haven’t got a laminated introduction?
OK we’re going to have to go right back to basics.

You need a standard introduction and you need to insist that the emcee reads it exactly as you’ve written it. Lots of emcees like to ad-lib, which is great if they are good.
They often aren’t good. They are often awful. So that’s why your introduction needs to be short. The shorter it is, the less they can mess it up.

When you are on the stage you are in the shop window. You are laying out your wares, in this case your expertise and your credibility.
Who can sell your wares best? You of course! So get on that stage as soon as you can and don’t leave it in the hands of someone who might not be great at selling you.
(I should point out that there are some brilliant comperes in the world. I like to think that I’m one of them. But why risk it?


The big mistake people make is giving the emcee a biography. This is far too detailed and to be honest, no use at all. A biography is fine for the website or brochure for the event, but not for the spoken introduction.
The introduction should be short and to the point and crucially it should be written by you in a language that anyone can easily read out loud. That means short sentences and no words that are hard to pronounce.

If you name is tricky to pronounce, spell it out phonetically.
‘Please welcome: John Hot-Ow-Ka’
This is especially effective if motivational speaker John Hotowka is the next on!


There are four sentences in the ideal introduction.


The first line should say who you are. It should make clear to every single person in the room, exactly who you are.
They should hear this one sentence and without any specialist or prior knowledge, know exactly who you are. That’s really important. You don’t want anyone to feel left out, because they aren’t as clued up as everyone else.

For example, I’ve introduced Sir Geoff Hurst many times at sporting dinners. He’s a legend and just about everyone in the room will know who he is.
But supposing there’s someone in the room who’s from overseas and doesn’t follow football? What about them? Do they want to spend the first half of his talk wondering who he is?
So I might say: ‘Our speaker is the only footballer to have scored a hat-trick in a World Cup Final.’

But even that supposes a level of knowledge about the game of football. So I’d say: “Our speaker is the only footballer to have scored a hat-trick (pause) three goals in a World Cup Final.”
Most people will assume the pause is me weighing up the enormity of scoring three goals in a World Cup Final. But the American baseball fan on table seven will be quietly grateful that I explained what a hat-trick is.

I once introduced Tony Blair at an event. Just about everyone in the audience will have known him.
But I still said: ‘Our special guest today is the Prime Minister…”
You might think that odd, but not only is it inclusive for the audience, but it also gives a build-up. For those that are only half-listening, it prepares them for the important bit of information that’s on the way. So when I finally say ‘please welcome Tony Blair’, they are ready with their cheers (or boos!).


The second thing you need in your intro is what you are going to talk about. If you can’t get the meaning of your talk into one line, then it’s not a very good talk. That line should be focussed towards what the audience are going to take away from your talk.

So a good second line would be ‘he’s going to teach us how to write really good short introductions.’

It’s all about the audience and what value they are going to get from your talk. They don’t care about who you are. They only care about what they are going to get from you.

Sorry to be blunt, but that’s the way it is. So tear up that intro you’ve been using for the past few years and write a short, simple one that will appeal to the audience and not your ego.


The third line should tell them WHY they should listen. It should establish your credibility. If you are going to show-off this is the sentence to do it in.

What is the thing about you that impresses people most? I know I said it’s not about your ego, but that was in sentence two. With sentence three it’s all about the ego.

A good third sentence would be: ‘he’s the voice of the announcer on the global best selling video game FIFA 16′
That’s me by the way. I’m also the voice of FIFA 15, 14, 13, 12,11 …right back to FIFA 06.
I did mention that the third sentence is about showing off, didn’t I?


And then comes the last bit, which is ‘please welcome XXXXXXXX XXXXXXX’
(Don’t forget to fill your name in. Unless your name is XXXXXXXX XXXXXXXXX!)

A good fourth sentence would be: ‘Please welcome JEREMY NICHOLAS.’
I always write my name in block capitals, to make it easy for the emcee to find. Not because I’m shouting!


So that’s it. A simple four point formula, but it works every time.

1.Who you are, (without saying your name).
2.What you are going to talk about
3. Why you are THE person to listen to on this subject.
4. Please welcome ……your name.

And then go and laminate it. Use a different colour of paper to white, so it’s easy for the emcee to find on a clipboard.

Thanks for listening, If you’ve enjoyed my blog I’ve been Jeremy Nicholas.
If you haven’t I’m XXXXXXXX XXXXXXXX.

Jeremy Nicholas is a writer and broadcaster who’s also a Fellow of the Professional Speaking Association and in 2015 was awarded the Professional Speaking Award of Excellence (PSAE). He’s the only person to have three times hosted the main stage at the Professional Speaking Association’s annual convention. 

He’s on a mission to make the world’s speakers more entertaining and engaging.

Take your  speaking to the next level by joining Jeremy for a Talking Toolbox Masterclass  (In 2016 in London, Dubai, Manchester, Leeds, Stockholm, Oslo, Amsterdam and Riyadh)

End of Season Gala Dinner

I thought presenting at the end of season gala dinner, the day after we were relegated would be a tough gig. Actually it was a great night out and I met lots of lovely people. I’ve been feeling so down since West Ham lost at Wigan, that the last thing I wanted was a night out to be honest. But I’d promised I’d do the auctioneering in aid of the Academy.

You’ll have read in the papers that there was a bit of trouble. But let me tell you it was nowhere near as bad as it’s being made out. One chap confronted a player. He was swiftly ejected by West Ham’s security team.

Ben Shephard was an excellent host of the awards. He made everyone laugh when he tried to get the event back on track after the interruption by saying please sit back in your chairs, don’t throw them. Scott Parker got the loudest cheer of the night as he was named Hammer of the Year. David Gold gave a rousing speech on how we’ll soon be back in the top flight.The Boys of 86 entertained as always with stories of better days.

My wife had her picture taken with Thomas Hitzlsperger and Karren Brady and she won a signed photo of Billy Bonds in the raffle.
As she’s only been in the UK since 2002 she didn’t really know who Billy was, but there was never any doubt that I was having the picture hanging in my office anyway.

When I looked around that room at the 780 guests I thought not many clubs could put on an event as big as this. It was a special night and we must not let one incident spoil it.

Next week I’m working at the Champions League Festival in Hyde Park, doing the announcing for the Bobby Moore Fund.

But nothing will match a night with seven hundred odd fellow sufferers of West Ham United. We went down together and we’ll come back up together.

Jeremy Nicholas, London, UK

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My book

Google can be a scary thing. I just googled my book title and found it on Amazon already. I’m still writing it!

The book ‘Mr Moon Has Left the Stadium’ is a funny account of my life as the West Ham United FC announcer. It comes out on August 1st.

It has to be handed in to the publishers at the end of June. There’s nothing that quite galvanises the writer into action more than seeing that people actually expect to be able to buy it on a set date.

You can see it on Amazon here. I promise you the cover won’t look like that. It’s a quickly mocked up version by the publishers.
It’s also already on the WH Smith site and Waterstonesm. Even more scary it’s on Amazon Japan.

Jeremy Nicholas, London, UK

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