Lee Jackson motivational speaker powerpoint surgeon presentation coach working in education + business - schools college university speaker business speaker school speakers the UK's most experienced schools / college speaker - education speaker - raising aspirations - motivational speaker in business - SRE - transition - teacher training - CPD - executive coaching headteachers CEO's TES videos
It seems like it’s been a busy few weeks since my last newsletter – celebrities popping off, Leicester City winning the Premier League at odds of 5000-1, a spring that can’t seem to spring and if you live in Yorkshire we even had our very own SONIC BOOM that shook our houses. It was truly bizarre, we all ran into the street in our onesies rather perplexed, thinking that ten gas towers had exploded or Armageddon was upon us, and it turns out that it was a stray aeroplane being chased by two Typhoon jets breaking the sound barrier over my house! Ah well we met some new neighbours – which was nice.
Anyway I’ve got some big news, an article about Victoria Wood and some fun stuff too…why not press pause for a few minutes, and read on – no hard sell – guaranteed…
What we can all learn from Victoria Wood
As you know Lee Victoria Wood passed away on 20th April 2016. I’ll be honest with you it was a shock to me. I found out by accident as I was flicking through Twitter on the train to a speaking gig. I was so taken aback that I told the woman opposite me on the train even though I hadn’t said a word to her up until now. Only on UK trains can you nod at someone and not actually speak. She was polite but disinterested – I was in shock, extrovert shock – I had to talk to someone!
I suppose I realised that I was a bigger fan than I thought. I’d just watched the whole two series of ‘Dinnerladies’ only a few weeks before and recounted my favourite Victoria Wood lines on Facebook while watching it! Too many to list here.
“Does your mother like Spain?”
“Well, she likes the majesty and grandeur of the landscape, but she’s not keen on the bacon.”
I loved 5 things about Victoria Wood…
1. She, like all good comedians and writers spent her life sending up pompous people and pretentious attitudes. She didn’t have a go directly at people who think more highly of themselves but she would just write around them, and about them, brilliantly. Like in her beautiful cafe sketch where Julie Walters character talked about the food on offer as they walked along the queue with their tray “Never touch prawns … did you know they tread water outside sewage outlet pipes with their mouths open?”. Brilliant. Good Comedy shines a light on bad attitudes and stupid traditions that we put up with until someone points it out.
“I once went to one of those parties where everyone throws their car keys into the middle of the room. I don’t know who got my moped but I’ve been driving that Peugeot for years.”
2. She used language well, to her advantage but didn’t beat us over the head with it. I hear lots of talks in my job, a few great ones, some good ones and a few terrible ones too. It’s an occupational hazard of being a speaker. She learnt the power of ‘name the brand’ to make it stick. I noticed that she would never say “I’d love a chocolate bar” she’d say “oh I could kill a Mars bar” because we get that easier and it’s just funnier. People connect with stuff that’s in their lives. So if you have to do a talk at work, don’t try and be clever, you’re not Steven Fry on QI, just speak in the language that everyone speaks and knows. That’s how we connect with audiences. She was the definition of down to earth. Why speak in high brow acronyms and jargon? Let’s just be respectful to people and be ‘everyday’ in our use of language. Let’s keep conversations about important things in everyday language or we’ll risk losing people along the way. She didn’t do that, I try not to either. Simple isn’t simplistic.
3. She knew who she was. She only played and wrote a few serious roles later in life. She seemed to know she was here to make people laugh and make life a little bit better for people. She also joked about her weight in a light way that didn’t make us uncomfortable, she was just a ‘normal sized’, not ‘Hollywood sized’ woman and we got that. She didn’t change her comedy style too much either, Acorn Antiques wasn’t too different to the famous “two soups” sketch, same actor too. In fact she was well known for using the same actors / friends again and again like Celia Imrie, Julie Walters and Duncan Preston. If you know your mates and they do a good job, why change the format too much? Life is better with friends. We knew what we were getting with Victoria Wood and I liked that. “I think it’s perfectly valid to go out and get laughs” she said “I think it’s a lovely thing to do actually, it’s a lovely life-affirming job…I think that’s great…”
4. She was rejected a lot and had to fight to get to where she got to. She was a trailblazer for women in comedy. There weren’t many female comedians and writers in the 70’s and early 80’s. It was a male dominated industry producing nonsense like ‘On the buses’ where women were treated like objects not people. She helped break that mould.
‘Seeing her on TV – silly, clever, singing, acting – made me think “Girls can do this”’
5. She often gave her best lines to others. She acted in her own stuff, but she gave the best stuff away to her friends like Julie Walters. Even when she was called a ‘National Treasure’ last year she addressed it well saying “Everyones a national treasure these days – you cant move for them…”. How many comedians give away their best lines? Sometimes you can see them battling for them on screen, Victoria Wood seemed comfortable enough to just let them go. She made others better, now that’s a true leader.
I guess I also liked that fact she was northern like me too. I’ll leave you with her pompous newsreaders comment on the North South divide:
“We’d like to apologise to our viewers in the North…it must be awful for them.”
Well done Victoria Wood, we laughed a lot and learned some stuff too, thank you.
My business speaking showreel…
I’ve filmed quite a few of my workplace talks over the last few years – here’s my new video showreel to get a flavour of what I can offer your workplace.
Feel free to share it.
It’s official…from October this year I’ll become the President of the Professional Speaking Association in the UK and Ireland. I’ll be helping to lead the organisation of over 530 Professional Speakers for one year. Visiting the local regions and representing the PSA abroad too. I was honoured to be asked and look forward to serving my ‘tribe’ well as we help to get our members to ‘speak more and speak better’ through the memberships levels of associate, professional member and fellow that we have in the PSA. Have look at what we do… http://www.thepsa.co.uk
Do you know parents trying to get their teens through exams at the moment?
My new book is down to earth practical advice from me on getting your teenager through their exams with the least stress and best results. Now in paperback and on Kindle.
My Education speaking showreel…
Me and my publisher Collins went into a High school in the North West and filmed the day – here’s a short video with some tips for exam success. Feel free to share.
And finally, a bit of good fun…
Football can be good and fair and respectful…
I’m not a fan of squirrels, I don’t want to kill them, just embarrass them…
The coolest President ever? Obama out!
Need a Speaker or an effective Presentation Coach for your school, college or business, just let me know, I’d love to hear from you.