Bem Brasil event in aid of After Adoption (7/9/2011)

Based in Manchester (UK), After Adoption has provided over 100,000 people with adoption support of some kind since the voluntary organisation was formed in 1980.

On Wed 7th September, Manchester restaurant Bem Brasil is hosting a special night in aid of After Adoption and I’m delighted to bring you the details (see poster below).

Described as a riotous celebration of Brazil’s Independence Day, this Carnaval do Brasil features drummers, dancers and Caipirinhas and of course the trademark Bem Brasil charcoal grill.

At the time of writing, a limited number of tables were still available for groups of either six or eight, priced at £40 per head. Each diner guarantees £10 per head to the charity, plus all proceeds from the raffle and auction. The organisers hope to raise £5,000 and with a main auction prize of a trip to Rio they’ve got every expectation!

To reserve a table, call 0161 830 2023 or email


Why vocal tone makes a difference

I was listening to Andy Murray being interviewed on the radio this morning, and my goodness that man can sound boring! I’m sure he’s perfectly good company, but his voice is unbelievably flat and monotone (more so because of the serious tone he was using to speak about the effects of the hurricane in New York City). 

It underlines once again the importance of your key communication tool – your voice – and how influential it is in determining what our audience thinks of us. You can say some great things and deliver information that ought to be useful, but if you don’t intone it well it loses its impact, and we’re less inclined to warm to you. It’s crucial that there’s an alignment between what you say, and how you say it. If you say you’re thrilled to be addressing an audience, but sound like the cat’s just died, no one will believe you! 

But equally important (as highlighted in Julian Treasure’s brilliant TED presentation on listening skills) is that humans are hard-wired to detect ‘differencing’ in sound. If we’re subjected to a continuous noise at a steady pitch for any length of time, it’s not long before we don’t even hear it. But we’re more likely to pay attention to sounds that vary in pitch, strength and rhythm.  

So take your vocal delivery seriously, record your voice and listen back to the way you say things. Work to extend your vocal range, letting yourself go a little, and see how much more enjoyable it is to listen to.

As a footnote, you may ask whether it really matters that Andy Murray’s got a boring voice! After all, he makes a good living playing tennis and just need to grunt occasionally to do that well. But all athletes need 2 careers – he’s unlikely to go much beyond 30 as a singles player (there’s no money in doubles). Look at those who’ve gone on to do well in the media – John McEnroe, John Lloyd, Sue Barker, Annabelle Croft, Boris Becker. They’ve all got nice vocal delivery, allow their personalities to come through and they’re highly sought after commentators.

So look to the future Andy!


How to present a pitch – Lymphoma Association

I was driving along the other day, listening to Radio 4, when I caught the last half of an appeal for the Lymphoma Association (click on link and listen). I have no particular interest in this cause (although it’s a worthy one), but the reason it grabbed my attention was the storytelling technique used to promote the charity.

I think there are some great lessons to be learned here for anyone looking to persuade an audience to ‘buy’ their proposition.


It was presented by James Landale (pic above), the BBC’s Deputy Political Editor. He was diagnosed with the disease and is well qualified to speak about it. For an audience to buy what you’re selling, it helps if the messenger has an authentic link to the topic (rather than a sales-person who’s picked some random product to promote for a while). And because Landale is a journalist, he tells the story in a clear, crisp and compelling way.

A direct opening

So many presentations begin with a long preamble – “Hi, my name is George and today I’m going to talk to you about…” But Landale opens with, “For me it began, as it does for so many others, with a lump.” He’s straight into the story and as an audience we’re hooked from the first moment.

Emotive and expressive words

He talks about, “this seemingly innocuous noggin of flesh…the little thing had staying power…the offending piece of grissle was teeming with cancerous cells…I’ll always remember the shiver of mortality I felt…” These words help us connect with his feelings, and are everyday language and not medical or (in the workplace) corporate-speak.

Great vocal delivery

Again, you’d expect this of a journalist, but it’s important to remember that the way we say things has as much impact (if not more) than what we say. No umms or errs, clear diction, not too fast or slow, time for the words to land, changes of pace, volume and tone. Julian Treasure makes a great point in his TED talk about the sounds we pay attention to. We use a thing called ‘differencing’ – in other words we’re looking for variety or a change to the norm – and this is absent in monotone voices like those of tennis player Andy Murray.

Letting us in

Landale allows the audience to share his thoughts and feelings as he gets his diagnosis, and struggles to make sense of his predicament. This degree of openness builds trust in an audience and we empathise with what he’s going through. There’s an element of vulnerability to this, but it helps us warm to a speaker and we somehow feel involved in his journey. In a movie, this helps us invest emotional capital in a character – we care what happens to them.

A call to action

If you plan your talk with the outcome you want, you’ll remember to insert a call to action at the end (many forget!). Make it simple – audiences don’t want too many choices.

I know I’ve rather hi-jacked this appeal for another purpose, but hopefully my thoughts will get shared so the charity gets talked about, and supported.

To support the Lymphoma Association…

Donations to Lymphoma Association should be sent to FREEPOST BBC Radio 4 Appeal, please mark the back of your envelope Lymphoma Association. Credit cards: Freephone 0800 404 8144. You can also give online at If you are a UK tax payer, please provide Lymphoma Association with your full name and address so they can claim the Gift Aid on your donation. The online and phone donation facilities are not currently available to listeners without a UK postcode.

Registered Charity Number: 1068395.