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Bits and pieces from the news

Bill Shorten’s Yes Minister Moment

One small mistake for a man, and a giant leap backwards for the team

Normally a strong performer, Shorten was pilloried for this. Caught on the hop in a media interview with David Speers on SKY’s PM Agenda, Mr Shorten’s unfortunate phrasing and facial expression scored him runs in the major papers and news bulletins of the day.

Obama Caught Out by Danish TV

Sometimes saying the right thing is the wrong thing

Antipodeans are used to hearing American Presidents say, “We have no better ally than Australia.” The above video exposes it as just another line in international diplomacy. What’s a poor little country like ours to do?

In our media training and communication coaching programs we frequently point out:

1. Any line you repeat more than once or twice will start to sound like a trick and you look dull when caught out.

2. Repeated words draw attention to themselves. When you repeat any word unintentionally, your communication begins to produce unintended (usually tonal) effects. Know what your favourite words are. These are the words you repeat without even knowing it. Even professional TV presenters make this mistake. Lately I’ve noticed news reporters and presenters stuck in rutted vocal patterns; starting every new sub-segment, “Now…”. In business I hear a lot of people habitually start with, “So…” even though the new thought is apropos of nothing.

You easily clean up these unintended weak starts, but first you must become aware of them. That often takes external review, whether by a coach or other observer or by recording and reviewing your performances.

Once aware of errors such as word and phrase repetition, you can start exercising control over them. Fresh thinking never hurts. Break out a thesaurus to identify alternative words and use those.


Media Training: Rort or Help?

My letter to The Australian Financial Review, Wed 27 July 2011:

Former PM’s Media Advice to Politicians

Sydney, Dec 2010

No-one in Australia has more media-facing experience than our second-longest-serving Prime Minister, John Howard. He took part in hundreds of interviews every year he was in office, showing remarkable focus, resilience and composure.

At VIVO Cafe in Sydney recently, Rhetorica’s managing director, Antoni Lee, asked Mr Howard what advice he had for today’s politicians about how to handle the media. Howard replied, “They ought not agree to every request. There are so many opportunities.” He pointed out the two 24-hour news channels and social media as key contributors to the media’s “voracious appetite”. For a moment, the room was silent, then Howard added, “And forget off the record.”

Mr Howard claimed to have improved his tech skills since leaving parliament, no-doubt in typing his memoir, Lazarus Rising. But he’s not on Facebook, nor does he Tweet. Yet. The modern Lazarus left carrying a copy of uber-marketer Iggy Pintado’s book, Connection Generation.

Rhetorica Launch

PR Report, June 2010

Antoni Lee has established a new international communication training firm called Rhetorica. Antoni and his team work with representatives of some of Australia’s — and the world’s — leading brands and organisations in what Antoni calls, “the art of performance communication.”

“If you communicate publicly for your work you’re paid to perform,” Antoni said. “You have to achieve something; you have to get results. Rhetorica exists to help presenters get those results — whether in and through the media, business pitches, roadshows, speeches or other acts of public communication.”

Antoni’s communication career goes back to the early 1990s, spanning substantial periods in government, consulting and corporate environments. He left Michels Warren in 1999 to join IBM leading into Y2K, the Sydney Olympics and the dotcom boom. He joined Red Agency in 2004, where he established Redact and an enviable reputation for media training around Australia and into South East Asia.

“Being born and raised in an entertaining and performing arts family also influences my work. Performing teaches you how to step out of yourself and into your role, without losing authenticity” Antoni said.

Rhetorica’s team includes top flight broadcasters Mimi Kwa (ABC Insiders, A Current Affair, Australia Network) and Jayne Edwards (2UE, press gallery, Inside Business) and in demand voice actor, Adrian Lee (Adrian and Antoni are brothers).