Entries by Eric Dixon

Mind the gap – getting rid of “Ums” and “Ers”

As a voice coach, one of the most frequently asked questions I receive from delegates is how to get rid of their “Ums” and “Ers” when speaking. They worry that audiences will find them annoying or distracting and that the use of such ‘fillers’ heightens the impression that the speaker is uncertain or nervous – […]

Go Figure: The Art of Not Revealing a Number When You Don’t Want To

Here’s a little secret. There’s a technique that journalists sometimes use called ‘kite-flying’. It’s a method of extracting a number out of an interviewee who is reluctant to reveal it. Here’s how it works: After asking the initial question ‘how much?’ and being told by the interviewee that it’s not something they wish to reveal, […]

Handling Hypotheticals

Hypothetical questions seem to be loved by media interviewers almost as much as they are hated by media interviewees. This is because the “What would happen if?” or “What would you do if?”’ scenarios that they involve are never positive ones for the guest concerned. For example, you can’t imagine a politician being offered the […]

The Shape of Sheeran

As a multi award-winning musician, songwriter and lyricist, you’d expect Ed Sheeran to be able to turn a decent phrase. And with years of performing experience behind him, you’d also expect him to connect successfully with his audience. Last week he combined several of these skills when he appeared in his own video, following his […]

Do you know how to build rapport?

Rapport is that easy-going relationship which good speakers have with their audience, indicating that they understand their world. But in business presentations, the quality is often as elusive as it is desirable. Like the concept of gravitas (which we can help with too, by the way), it’s also something that critics suggest presenters try to […]

In media interviews, when you don’t want to be drawn, don’t draw!

Interviewers often receive a lot of stick about using unfair amounts of pressure to force interviewees to reveal something they are trying to keep secret. In other words, to ‘draw’ something from them, when they are quite clearly trying not to be ‘drawn’. Sometimes this criticism is justified. But occasionally, interviewees themselves provide the impetus […]

When worlds collide: personal questions in public interviews

Being asked questions on TV or radio is daunting. You’re on show, after all, with an audience witnessing every factual inaccuracy, lack of knowledge, or inability to answer. The problem is exacerbated when your interviewer introduces something which is usually kept private into the mix. That’s when public and personal worlds collide; a combination of […]

Speaking human is a must-have skill

“We need people who speak human”. So said a Labour Party insider, following the party’s defeat in Hartlepool last week. Whatever your thoughts about the successes and failures of the various political parties in the UK elections over the past few days, it’s interesting that the need to communicate naturally with your audience, has once […]

Super League Apology and Why Sorry is the Hardest Word

‘Sorry’, as Elton John was keen to remind us in 1976, ‘seems to be the hardest word’. And if it’s difficult enough to utter privately, it is, perhaps, even more challenging to say in public. But that’s precisely what the American owner of Liverpool Football Club John Henry did last week, in the furore over […]

Piers Morgan should know better: walking off set is never good

Piers Morgan is irascible, dogmatic and for me highly entertaining. He of all people knows that media interviews are a sometimes uncomfortable blend of entertainment and information, often generating more heat than light.  And for a hapless interviewee, the pressure occasionally gets too much. But tempting though it might be, storming out of a TV […]