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Have you got the Gift of the Gab?





It’s the end of another year and time to take it easy for a few days over the holidays.

The Christmas holiday period can often be a time to reconnect with people you have not been in touch with for some time. Yet, we hesitate; how do you restart the conversation?

Please have a look at my TEDx talk entitled ‘The Gift of the Gab’ and get some tips on starting a conversation.

This talk will tell you the number one demotivating factor in business and personal life, also how to become a great motivator, along with many other communication tips.

You can also entertain friends and family with a humorous story you will hear during this talk!


Please put this date in your diary – 25 January 2018.  I am hosting a morning workshop in  National College of Ireland Dublin entitled:

‘Why are you nervous speaking in front of some audiences’?

If you would like more details or to reserve a place please contact me


THE END … Do you hear “WOW!” or “Let’s get out of here?”









“A speech is like a love affair. Any fool can start it, but to end it requires considerable skill.”  Lord Mancroft

When working with clients to prepare them for important presentations, I have noticed over the years that they always start at the beginning, and proceed to fill the body of the talk with everything they know or feel that they must tell their audience, in order to engage them.

On movie websites you see similar ambition:

Thor: Ragnarok

Action/Adventure/Comedy/Fantasy /Science Fiction

Justice League

Action/Adventure/Fantasy/Science Fiction

The Snowman


Big Hero 6

Adventure/Family/Animation/ Action/Comedy


I would much prefer a simpler message:






How many times have you gone to the cinema and sat through 90+ minutes only to be disappointed at the end?

Speakers attempt to do the same; create a presentation that will address all issues and all audiences in one fell swoop. If only life was so simple, and audiences were so receptive to multiple messages that are not particularly focused on their needs.


When working with my clients to prepare them for an important presentation/pitch, where I want them to start is not where they expect to start.

The questions I want them to answer first are:

  1. Who is your audience, and, in particular, who in that audience do you want to hear your message?
  2. The next thing we must focus on is how to end the talk. How will the audience members be better as a result of listening to you and taking your advice?

This presents an immediate problem as most people start preparing their presentations in one of the following ways;

They dig out a previous presentation and start tweaking.

Next, they exhaust themselves filling the body of the talk, then run out of energy and enthusiasm long before giving any thought to how the presentation should end.

I believe all talks must hold the attention of your listeners and point to a solution that will be beneficial to them.

One of  Stephen Covey’s seven habits of highly effective people is:


Great movies, great books, and great talks are a success because of the Director, Writer, Speaker knowing exactly how the film, book or talk is going to end, long before a camera rolls, a word is typed or slide created.

I believe all presentations must start with excitement and end in knowledge.


When your audience sees a clear benefit to them in what you suggest, your next step is a ‘call to action’ which now is much more likely to receive a favourable response.

A video conversation on how to be a great speaker

Aristo, from a Greek name, means “to be the best”.

Here is Andrew Keogh of Aristo talking to Don Harris of Talkback about how Aristo helps people to be the best in communicating, presenting and telling their business story.

Are you nervous of presenting? Perhaps you feel you could do better?

Watch this 8 minute video to pick up some great tips and to learn more about how Aristo can help you.

LESS IS MORE – Shorter, more effective presentations

Less is More

A couple of weeks ago I listened to the BBC Radio 4 interview with Dame Judy Dench, as part of their anniversary of 60 years of radio news.

Dame Judy spoke about what she had learned over her sixty years career.

She told a story of how she played Ophelia in Shakespeare’s play Hamlet in her early twenties.

Ophelia was mad, and Dame Judy, in her own words, explains how she over acted, throwing the ‘kitchen sink’ at the role to demonstrate Ophelia’s madness!

She now says some sixty years later she would play the role in a more measured way, and still get the message across of Ophelia’s madness.

Less is more according to Dame Judy Dench

Great actors are always reducing their script, as they realise they can with a gesture, look, or body movement, impart the message more effectively than words can.

Listening to this interview reminded me of how lots of my clients initially want to tell their audience everything about their organisation, in the hope that one of their messages will stick.

I am prompted, required even, to deliver the same message as Dame Judy

‘Less is More’ …

In sessions with Aristo we often start with 40+ slides for a 45-minute presentation (roughly a slide a minute) and finish with 8/10 slides – far more manageable and engaging for both speaker and audience.

The best presentations (in my view) have no slides, or very few.

I believe you cannot make more than three key messages in a presentation, and, ideally, I strongly suggest you only deliver one key message.

This message can be supported by facts, evidence, stories and examples – all helping to make the key message more memorable and more likely to stick in the mind of your audience.

Getting ready for your presentation …

When beginning your preparation, do not start with a previous slide deck. Always start afresh with some blank pages and write/sketch on each of the sheets the content of the slide, remembering that your audience came to listen to you, not look at your slides.

Watch and learn from the best in your organisation, or study speakers who you know have the ability to deliver an effective message.

Simon Sinek’s TED Talk ‘Start with WHY’ (35 m views) – has no slides. Just a flip chart, still the most effective and immediate communications tool for a presentation.

How do I prepare …

To prepare you need to answer these questions, being as specific as possible.

  • Who’s your audience:

Write down a person’s name, not an organisation.

  • Problem / Opportunity:

What is the problem/opportunity ‘story you wish to tell’, to engage this person?

  • Close …

How will this person be better after listening to you and taking your advice?

Create DESIRE in 3 easy stepsHere’s how you do that:

  1. Firstly, help the person to realise they lack what you can offer them.
  2. Get their agreement.
  3. Then paint a picture in words, so they can fully visualise the benefit of what you are offering.

e.g. “I see you talking to an audience of 500 in an entertaining and engaging presentation.”


If you or your company have trouble getting people to DESIRE your idea or products, talk to me. I can help you with that …

Messages from the Bourne Trilogy (Find Your Voice)








Recently, while on my way to speak to an audience of Bankers, I listened to a Desert Island Discs podcast with the movie director Paul Greengrass, Director of three Bourne Films, the 9/11 film United 93, Captain Philips and numerous other films.

He was inspiring and I took down two notes from what he said which I found very interesting. I went on to incorporate his ideas into my talk to my audience of Corporate and Treasury bank people.

The first note/idea I captured was –

“Drama can take you there in a way that facts cannot.”

By way of explanation, he was saying a good story/film addressing a serious issue is much more likely to make an impact, than some dry facts and statistics.

An example of this would be …

A radio interview with a family member, whose eighty year old mother was on a hospital trolley for 48 hours in A&E, is much more memorable than the hospital’s response that the time spent waiting on a bed is down by 1% this year.

Which comment is more likely to be discussed over coffee or at lunch break?

The other comment which I noted down was that at some point in his life (career) he had found –

  • His voice
  • His stories
  • His way

How lucky is he!

In this really interesting podcast he gives credit to some of the people who helped him to find his voice. Please click here and listen to the podcast if you want to be inspired, like I was.


If you need some help in finding your voice, or reconnect with your true voice, please get in touch.


Aristo – Connect 2 Grow explained …

Aristo gives people the confidence to connect.
Connect and build relationships.
Relationships build Trust.
Trust leads to growth in you and your business.

Get Started Writing Now! Guess & Go …

Where do you get inspired? I doubt if it’s sitting at your desk or in front of a screen?

Why should you wish to be more creative?

Creativity is as critical as literacy in education
Sir Ken Robinson

One of my favourite TED talks (+ 38 million other people)

I am presently participating in The Artist’s Way programme delivered by Eve Earley, and the first two steps are to take some time each morning to write stuff (anything), which has the great effect of  clearing your head and getting you ready for the day.

The second activity is to have an ‘artist’s date’ each week. This is where you allow yourself the time to do something, or go somewhere that will help stimulate your creative instincts.

Last month I visited the portrait room in the National Art Gallery of Ireland. As a result, I got an idea for an article/blog  (Click here).

Today, I am writing this article in the Central Library Dublin, surrounded by studious people all intent on what they are reading.

When I want some peace and quiet, I also regularly use Bank of Ireland WorkBench spaces.

Note: all of these spaces are free and have good free Wi-Fi if you feel the need to check in every 2 to 3 hours.  I would suggest you put your phone on airplane mode and out of sight whilst you are there.

I have found that the act of writing longhand with a fountain pen or pencil is more fulfilling than using a keyboard.  The slower more relaxed pace also allows you to be more reflective and creative.

My advice to you is put your ideas down on paper while they are fresh in your mind. You can dictate or type into your computer later. Leave a space / time before commencing editing, or, better still, have someone else do this for you.

All great writers have editors who invariably reduce down the content, to improve the narrative.

Here are some tips picked up over the years having thought about writing articles/blogs but managed to avoid doing so, using various excuses.

  • Guess and Go
    The number one excuse for me and lots of people is that they cannot spell. This for me was overcome with advice from Eve Earley who told me that her children, who were educated in America, received the advice to Guess and Go.  If they did not know how to spell a word they were told to have a guess but keep on writing.
    How I wish I got that advice from my teachers.
  • Get your thoughts down on paper is another piece of advice I received from a writer friend of mine. Tell yourself it’s only a first draft and can be changed or corrected
  • All great writers give credit to their editors. Find yourself a friend or colleague who is supportive of your writing, not critical of your output.

Take my advice and get started. There is nothing as fulfilling as being creative and capturing your thoughts on paper. It will also enhance your career and business, just as it has mine.

Please SHARE with your friends and colleagues and read my previous publications for advice on how to be more creative.

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