Write your own introduction

As well as speaking for a living, I often act as the MC or compere at an event.

It’s not rocket science. I  tell people where the fire exits and toilets are located and glare at them until they switch their mobile phones to silent.

Then I pop up in between speakers, make a few light hearted comments, based on what they’ve said.  I always challenge myself to think up new comments for each event, based on what the previous speaker has said.

That way,  people think, ‘what he says isn’t brilliant, but at least he’s made it up today, and it’s specially for us, so we’ll give him the benefit of the doubt and they clap and maybe even pretend to laugh.’

At least I think that’s what they’re doing.  It’s so hard to focus when they start throwing things.

There was an episode of Friends, where Ross made a list of five celebrities who Rachel would allow him to sleep with. It was  like a Get out of Jail Free card allowing him to crack off with someone famous, without risking his relationship.  Off the top of my head I remember that Uma Thurman and Winona Ryder were on the list, along with Elizabeth Hurley and an ice skater. Possibly Michelle Pfeiffer as well, but that might have been on Chandler’s list. Anyway that’s not important. What is important is that he’d laminated the list.

By covering the list of his five chosen women, he’d set them in stone. He could carry that list around in his pocket without it getting creased. It meant he could have that list ready at all times, just in case Winona or Liz were down the laundrette. He could produce it triumphantly and claim his reward. Maybe after hearing his chat up lines about dinosaurs and robotic dancing, they would decide to forgo the chance of a bit on the side with a fossil hunter, in favour of a return to Beverley Hills, but at least he had the card with him.

And so we come to the point of my story.  You’ll be glad to hear that there is one, and you haven’t read this far for nothing.

When I speak at an event, I hand the host a laminated cue sheet. On it I have typed my introduction. This is how I would like to be introduced. It does not vary. It is always the same. I know if off by heart. I can make sure that the MC  gives me just the right build up.

My laminated introduction takes away the wildcard element.  Occasionally I’ll be introduced as Jeremy Nichols or Nicholson, but at least the bulk of what I want them to say will be correct. You can’t cater for hosts who are stupid, sloppy or have forgotten their reading glasses.  But at least you’ve given yourself a fighting chance of getting off to a flying start. I think of my laminated introduction as a golf tee.  I may end up playing in the rough at various points during the next hour, but at least I know my opening shot will be off a raised tee, giving me every chance of hitting it straight down the middle.

But how many of my speaking colleagues have a printed introduction which they hand to the compere at an event? In my experience it’s less than half, which I think is a disgrace.  OK you don’t have to have it laminated, that’s just me . I get nervous before speaking and often spill things!

As the host of events, I’ve lost track of the number of speakers who say they are happy to be introduced however I see fit.  Worse still they hand me their biography and want me to pick something out of that! I give them a chance to get off to a flying start and they don’t take advantage.

Here are a few comments from speakers  who I’ve asked how they want to be introduced to the stage:

*Just say I’m a Marmite speaker, you either love him or hate him.  (really? I hate you already)

*Just say he’s written a couple of books and he speaks all over the world.   (no kidding, you’ve written some books, whoopee do)

*Just say he’s a professional speaker who is well known in business circles. (you’re well known? Maybe I don’t need to say anything?)

One speaker at a recent event,  who had no printed introduction, handed me a few handwritten lines, scribbled onto the back of a flyer. There were a couple of very good points, which made me think his talk would be brilliant. Unfortunately, he mentioned those very same points in the first minute of his talk.  The audience must have thought, yes we know that mate, the compere just said that.

I hope he didn’t see me roll my eyeballs into the back of my head. But I think he did.

Avoid the hazards and the rough with your opening shot. Write your introduction out on a sheet of A4. And if you really want to make my day, stick it in the laminator.

There’s a lovely laminator here.

Jem  – pulling out what’s left of his hair- 26th February 2010    London, England

Blue Peter

When I was a kid, Blue Peter was a top programme full of educational features.

This week I have seen Dick and Dom making pancakes on Blue Peter, plus a song by the young pop combo who are so poor they have to share the single name of Jedward.

I should point out that I only watched out of the corner of my eye and with the sound turned down, because I was in an edit suite at the time, putting together a cutting edge TV feature.  However, most angry letters to the Daily Mail  begin with the phrase, ‘I didn’t see it myself, but I was outraged to learn……’  (I don’t read the Mail myself, as it outrages me, but I’m led to be believe in the existence of such letters.)

What is going on in the world? Blue Peter used to be educational.  If you wanted to muck about you turned over and watched Magpie.  That was what commercial television was for.

Are really going to produce the leaders from tomorrow by teaching them how to make batter based snack products?  It was hard to tell the ingredients with the sound turned down, but these looked a bit like French pancakes to me. They were certainly a bit crepe.

When Jesus went into the wilderness for forty days and forty nights, he knew he needed to carb up, like marathon runners do with a pasta meal the night before a race.  That’s what pancake day is all about.  Shrove Tuesday, Mardi Gras, Fat Tuesday, call it what you want, it’s all about stocking up for the long haul ahead. It’s about getting ready to make a few sacrifices in your life, like giving up chocolates for Lent or going camping in the wilderness.

It’s not about dicking about in da bungalow and seeing how much mess you can make by battering each other. It’s certainly not about putting a Jedward wig on a Blue Peter dog while the tuneless, high-haired, halfwits leap about scaring the rest of the animals.

I remember the days when Janet Ellis was sacked from Blue Peter because she set a bad example to youngsters by giving birth to a young pop star, Sophie Ellis Bextor.  Presenters have always had to be whiter than white. Richard Bacon was sacked for having a diet coke, I seem to half remember.

I’ve still got my Blue Peter badge from the day I made a film for the programme. I got into the last three to become a presenter, having made it through the rigorous and notorious trampoline audition.  But did I get the job?  No they gave it to Anthea Turner, who after a good start spoiled everything by selling her wedding for the price of a bar of chocolate.

So that’s what this is all about. It’s not about wigs on dogs or messy cooks, it’s about not getting a job back in the early nineties, when I still had hair.  Well I never realised that’s what was going on in my subconscious.  This blog may well be turning out to be a bit dull for you the reader, but I tell you what, it’s saving me a fortune in trips to my analyst.

(I should point out in case my Mum reads this, that I don’t have an analyst and this is poetic licence. Even if it doesn’t rhyme.)

Jem    19th Feb 2010   On the couch

All of my funniest ‘And Finally’ TV reports all in one place for your Friday amusement- Jem
http://www.youtube.com/user/TheJeremyNicholas
(includes Stilton Elvis, Shark House, Rabbit Hotel and Little Britain)

My interview with Paul Smith

Here’s my interview with fashion designer Paul Smith.
Paul fell into fashion by accident, when he was knocked off his bicycle.
During his long recovery he befriended some fashion students, fell in love with their teacher and with fashion itself.
He’s never looked back. I love his shoes and always wear them to give me added confidence when I speak at big events. (Luckily he’s the same size as me!)

Too mean to pay to hear me talk? Here’s some free speech.

One of my most popular talks is ‘Putting the U in Humour’. It’s aimed at business people who want to get their message across more effectively by keeping their audience entertained.

Its a 30 minute keynote or a 60 minute interactive workshop.

The main message is to forget telling old jokes and concentrate on using amusing stories from your own real life.

It also deals with the way humor varies around the world, even the spelling!
Plus what is acceptable to different audiences, how to write funny stuff and why you should avoid being a clown. (Unless you already have a big red nose and a car that keeps falling to bits!)

Click below to watch it, and contact me if you’d like me to deliver the talk to your organisation.

Jem – Jan 2010

Ten Ambitions for 2010

When I was a little boy growing up in East London, I remember Mr Carter, the headmaster, talking to us one day in assembly.  He said we could achieve anything we wanted in life, as long as we wanted it enough. He reminded us that Noel Edmonds had been a pupil at our school, and he was now the breakfast presenter on Radio One.

At the time I thought that was one of the best jobs in the world.  Being rather a literal child, I put my mind to being a breakfast presenter. In my life I’ve had two spells presenting breakfast shows on GLR (now BBC London) and one on a country music radio station in Wembley (best not to ask about that one, but it paid well!)

In all I’ve had nearly four years of getting up in the night and trying to sound chipper in the morning.  Not easy for someone who according to my friends can be a bit grumpy in the mornings.

Anyway having watched Noel Edmonds reinvent himself a few times, I thought I would take a leaf out of my primary school’s most famous old boy and write down my ambitions.   Noel is a big believer in verbalising your dreams so they will come true.

So here’s ten things I’d like to achieve in 2010, or at least before I die.  (I’m not sure if they come true if you put too long a deadline on them, but I’ve always been a realist. )

TEN THINGS THAT I WOULD LIKE TO ACHIEVE IN 2010 BY JEREMY NICHOLAS

1.  To appear as a guest host on BBC Television’s Have I Got News For You.

2. To speak at the National Speakers Association convention in the USA or the Professional Speakers Association of Southern Africa.

3. To be appointed the main stadium announcer at the London 2012 Olympics.

4. To be a guest on Radio 5Live’s Fighting Talk programme.

5. To review the newspapers on Sky News.

6. To do some kind of journalism- written, TV or radio at the football World Cup in South Africa in June and July.

cape-town

7. To present a show on a UK radio station as a fill-in host.

8. To produce and present my own podcast on media skills and humorous stories from around the world.

9. To set up my own mastermind group for professional speakers in the London area.

10. To write my second book- Talking Toolbox- full of great tools to help get your message across.

11. To become a fellow of the Professional Speakers Association.  (hang on I thought there was meant to be ten ambitions?)

12. To have my name on the side of a bus. (OK you need to stop now, it’s meant to be ten, and everyone has seen that picture of the toy bus that you posted earlier, so it’s not even funny).

13. To stop talking to myself. (OK then, bye)

So those are my ambitions for 2010.  If you can help any of them come true, please contact me.

jeremy-nicholas-on-the-side-of-a-bus

You can email me at jem@jeremynicholas.co.uk

Follow me on twitter at Jeremy_Nicholas

Phillip Van Hooser interview

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Phil Van Hooser pic 2

Picture courtesy www.vanhooser.com

It was a great to meet the National Speakers Association President Phillip Van Hooser.

I interviewed Phil at the Professional Speakers Association convention in November 2009 in the UK.
He was the only American at my talk ‘Putting the ‘U’ in Humour’. Afterwards I was worried that I might have picked on him a bit during my workshop session to illustrate how humour varies around the world. I feared I might have jeopardised my chances of ever speaking at an NSA convention, but he was very charming and said how much he’d enjoyed the talk.  Phew!

Tim Gard with me

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Tim Gard pic

Picture courtesy of www.timgard.com

Here’s my interview with Tim Gard, the brilliant American speaker.  He’d just come off stage at the PSA 2009 convention in Marlow. His after dinner set was hilarious.  For me it was extra special because it was my birthday, and Tim invited eight fellow speakers onto the stage and they played Happy Birthday for me on nose whistles!
It wasn’t the most tuneful version, but I will always remember it.

I’d been invited to speak about humour at the convention before I knew that Tim was headlining the event.  It was a bit like being asked to talk about physics and then finding Stephen Hawking is also on the bill.  Fortunately my ‘Putting the ‘U’ in Humour’ workshop was well received and I was delighted when Tim came and found me to give me a copy of his book.

Anyway, enough of the praise, here’s the interview.