Referred by a KPR Government Agency Manager - a collaborative scheme between, in this case, Sheffield University and SM placed in a research post with the Flood Relief Agency, Wallingford - the assignment was to help the researcher prepare a presentation to be given at a major international conference in Lyon, France. She was softly-spoken, very unconfident and had not given anything but a small team presentation before. As a statistician, previously in Finance in the City after graduation and a Canadian the challenge was huge for her but she had produced an amazing mathematical algorhythm for vastly reducing time and costs of calculating risks of flood events compared with the model in use for 20 years. We worked intensively on the content to simplify the explanatory slides and generate a script within the allowed time.We then worked upon voice projection and delivery skills overcoming a period of time she had to recover from a skiing accident and several changes of data sets for her examples that were imposed by her manager very late on.
It was a 5-day event and her slot was late in the day in the middle of the week. We sent off the transcript for pre-publication and scrutiny by the hosts and for familiarisation by simultaneous translators. Imagine how pleased and proud I was when, knowing her manager was also speaking on the same day and a further source of pressure, that I received an e-mail from SM in France, asking me to open an attachment.
It was a photograph of a certificate presented to her for being voted the best speaker of all at the conference!
a young man suffering from a mild form of Asberger’s Syndrome and who, despite being educated to HNC standard and nearing completion of a part-time degree course and despite providing exemplary service as a part-time employee fulfilling responsibilities well above his status, failed upon 4 occasions to interview well enough to gain a full-time position with his employer to do the same job. He was determined to gain the post on merit and did not disclose his difficulties to gain a sympathy advantage over others! After only six sessions of coaching from Xpress Train – the vacancy next arose much sooner after the previous rejection than anticipated – he was offered the job he had tried so hard to get for five years and that has given him a whole new series of opportunities for advancement, a better salary, job security, a pension plan – a whole new life!
CEO of an Executive Search company is making a very costly series of training DVD programmes and has to present 90-minute seminars to camera but he knows himself to be a poor presenter when trying to read a script. Xpress Train had 4 weeks to solve the problem by training him in presentation skills. The training was so effective, the filming was successfully completed and the programme is in post-production before being published and sold nationally.
Newly arrived from Burma and unable to be understood clearly by colleagues and patients, meets me weekly for an hour to moderate his accent and widen his vocabulary; significant improvement achieved in 4 weeks! After extending the coaching for a further period, the aims were achieved to the delight of the doctor, his patients and his colleagues.
A manager in a public water research company, was asked by his line manager to take over a key presentation to a very important group of public utility chiefs in London only one week before the event. He was given a PowerPoint programme of some 50 slides and he came to me for help. It was immediately obvious that the slides were poorly sequenced and contained far too complex diagrams and statistics. In session 1 we edited the programme radically. In our second session we worked upon the script and delivery issues. Finally, in a third session, we rehearsed the whole presentation. The next day, the presentation was duly given and was very well received to the relief and delight of Mr. D., who was then invited to lead more conferences around the UK.
A “Banardo Boy” after 10 years as HM Tax inspector, wanted above all to prove that someone from such humble origins as his could make it to the top profession – his definition of that was to become a Barrister at Law. Late in life he undertook all the exams to qualify and graduated from his Inn of Court for practice under the tutelage of his Pupil Mistress – itself an amazing achievement to get so far! – he was told by her that he had no chance of being called to the Bar and being given advocacy work so long as he had a deep Gloucestershire accent! After travelling from Swindon to Gloucester for lessons with a speech trainer for some time, he felt he was getting nowhere. He was seeing his dream beginning to slide from beneath him when he saw Xpress Train advertised in Yellow Pages. After our first session, he said he had learned more in one hour with me than in six months in Gloucester! He achieved a beautifully modulated, clear, accentless manner of speech. After a few months, during which he began to conduct several successful cases, he returned only to “learn to speak posh” better to conform to expectations of clients. His success has been sustained, he has married a QC and his dream has been achieved.
An accountant, struggling to set up a new kind of business alongside his practice responsibilities as an employee, undertook training over an extended though interrupted period. His ambition, which seemed initially significantly beyond his reach, was to become a successful public speaker. Increasingly overcoming his lack of clarity [ a sufferer earlier of cerebral palsy with parents and roots in the Caribbean] he has persisted and, having entered for an externally conducted examination validated by QCA as an equivalent NVQ Level 3 qualification, he not only passed his Bronze Medal exam in Public Speaking last July with Distinction but he also gained the Grade 7 Silver Medal from the London Academy of Music & Dramatic Art with Merit in November 2005. He then took the exam to gain the Gold Medal!
His confidence is high; he has been asked to speak at increasingly important meetings in the community about Drug Culture and is on the way to realising his dream of being a professional speaker! He says how this has changed his life for the better.
A field archaeological officer with English Heritage was very softly spoken and had problems giving outdoor talks on site to visiting groups. Her position was under threat in re-structuring job reductions. Not only did her voice training alleviate her difficulties in the field, but she was invited to speak at several national conferences in Cambridge and in the North and her interview training, which included a formal presentation, was a success and she remains employed by the National Trust.
Had a growing reputation as a Public address announcer and commentator at quality events such as polo matches and Badminton. As a result of voice training, he achieved a major new job with a radio station including television work in Kent and left the area for a new life.
Was on the point of giving up her job as a swimming instructor because, in a pool with several groups being taught at once, she could not make herself heard and was worried about safety and the loss of her voice. After a total of only six hours of training spread over a number weeks, she had techniques that worked and a continuing income stream because she no longer damaged her voice and could get and hold the attention of the children.
A very senior Motorola manager had to deliver a paper to an international conference in Amsterdam. Delegates paid some £4000 each to attend the 3 days and Mr. G. was assigned a speaker slot as No. 10 on the very first day. i.e. the last before dinner at the end of the travelling day! We planned for this disadvantage and by modifying his script [pre-published for the delegates to allow for translations etc.], we worked on delivery skills. He was so well received that he received 2 job offers that very evening! He had mastered his inability to say “TH”, raised the profile of his company and shortly afterwards was given even more responsibility for developments in the Far East as well as Europe – not least because of his growing reputation as a speaker.
Was tasked with reading out the commendations and calling the names of RAF men receiving medals and honours from the C-in-C Europe. The RAF asked me to train him because his speech was not clear. Our final session took me to the location for the ceremony enabling me to make suggestions about the arrangement of the space as well as complete his practice. He was commended by the Station Commander and promoted shortly afterwards. He was posted from Lyneham and the visibility he achieved clearly changed his career.
Nicknamed by the RAF as “Twice” because of his strong Orcadian accent when giving mission-critical Intelligence briefings to pilots in UK, Afghanistan and Iraq etc. He failed to win a place at Cranwell for officer training solely because of his unclear speech. After a 20-hour course, he not only achieved a desperately-sought place in his final attempt but was commended for his clear speech. He then went on to become top cadet of his cohort and bore the Sword of Honour and shouted the orders for the Passing Out parade! This promotion has totally changed his life!
P.S. He is now an air-traffic controller guiding fast jets. That’s a strong testimony to the clarity of his speech!
Media / PR officer for City of London Corporation responsible for managing the press and TV at major receptions for VIPs came to XTL for a course because of lack of vocal power and ability to command attention when organising greeting lines etc. “How do I interrupt Tony Blair’s conversation with a Head of State to move the group to the next activity?” was but one of the issues successfully handled. She replaced an ex-RSM [ret’d.] and needed techniques and skills to command attention in an appropriate way. Her confidence has grown and she is carrying out her duties effectively now.
In the process of transferring within an RAF career from being a firefighter to Intelligence and facing a demanding training course requiring the delivery of briefings and reports, she undertook an Xpress Train Ltd. personal programme to make her speech clearer, boost her self-confidence and learn how to deliver. After ONE SESSION, Ms D. topped her class with her first assignment and was commended for her clarity, confidence and well-structured content.
Was a well-known DJ who was leaving a commercial radio station and finding it hard to control his strong accent enough to get a BBC job. After a few sessions, he not only kept his signature accent but became more easily understood and valued and used some programme suggestions that I gave him so that his part-time radio programme for the BBC became a very popular [and full-time] feature of the station. “You’re an inspiration” were the words he put on a signed photograph.
A highly-qualified social worker, had left her career and was, after a year’s floristry course at college, working in a Cirencester florist’s business. She was renowned for speaking so quickly that customers and her employers had great difficulty in understanding what she said. This embarrassed and frustrated her considerably; only her husband – himself a slow speaker – could really make out what she was saying without effort. After training which clarified and slowed her rate of speech and after passing a lead about a job vacancy to her, Mrs. W. re-entered the social work profession in an important, child-protection management role. Her salary was double what it was before and this had a big impact upon her family and changed her whole situation in a very positive way!
A manager in a global engineering company, is of Arabic descent and was born in Egypt. His English is very good after years of living in the local area but his accenting and some mannerism gave out unintended and misinformative messages that people interpreted as aggressiveness and “shortness” of attitude and approach. This was a barrier to his advance to the highest levels of management. After a programme with Xpress Train, his accent became clear so he was well understood and his body language and non-verbal behaviours were so different that he received responsibility for leading a programme of change to motivate staff. After interview training, he successfully undertook a promotion interview shortly afterwards and so his prospects were materially transformed.
Asst. Treasurer to a Borough Council, lacked confidence when addressing groups and had several issues with particular sounds. I coached him to achieve clarity and confidence and, following intensive interview skills training, he achieved promotion to Treasurer of a Local Authority in Kent which meant the relocation of his family, a major salary increase and a wholly new way of life which he said he owed to me!
Wife of diplomat, stressed beyond belief by frequent dinner parties she had to host at her large house, because she feared she was letting her husband [and the Gov’t!] down by being so inhibited about her accent and inability to say certain words that she barely spoke at all. After an intensive course with me, it is hard to describe her joy and relief when she reported back the success of an important party at which she had mingled and conversed freely and with enjoyment.
A primary school teaching Assistant – briefly a customer 7 tears earlier – rang in some distress having almost completely lost her voice and been signed off work for 2 weeks, a real problem in view of all the end-of-term events to get through. The GP doctor could suggest little beyond making a referral to specialists at the local hospital. Did I remember her? Could I possibly help? Immediately, a special consultation was arranged; it lasted for some 90 minutes.
That evening, the phone message came: “Thanks so much for this morning! My voice feels so much better and I feel really positive about returning to work on Monday. Let’s meet on Tuesday evening for another session.” The advice and exercises given, solved the problem and the voice was back and better controlled within a week. The issue did not recur.
A n experienced and highly-skilled junior doctor sought help as she needed to be more assertive both in making PowerPoint presentations to colleagues and more senior staff on specialist topics and also to be more confident and foster a stronger personal image whilst with other staff on ward rounds. It was quite difficult to match appointment times in view of the very long shifts she workd and as she was working in a hospital some 55 miles away. Following a bespoke Xpress Train programme of only 10 hours in total but spread over 6 months, not only were her objectives all achieved but she also secured a promotion to a position as Registrar in another hospital.
A German national working in Bath as an International Manager with responsibility for Europe, Mrs. E. already had degrees in Russian and Croatian and she was very keen to “lose” her German accent when speaking English. Though resident in the UK for nearly 15 years and a keen student of English [she always carried a German/English dictionary with her] she had not been satisfied with her pronunciation and wished to sound like a native Englishwoman. It was agreed that training would take place in Bath. Using help from her company’s CPD funding for the initial series of sessions and then funding herself for a further sequence of 12 sessions, she was delighted to report some 7 months later that she had been asked by a delegate at a conference to tell him what part of the UK she was from!
Previously a schoolmaster, he was exploring a total change of direction in his career by attempting to become a professional public speaker giving entertaining and informative presentations on a range of specialist topics. We discussed a possible programme of development and he travelled the 40 miles to meet in Swindon for a dozen, 2-hour sessions. By the end of this time, he was already preparing to set-off for Australia to deliver his talks at a series of venues for a very profitable lecture tour with more enquiries coming in for further talks in America.
At the end of November, he enquired about gaining an acting qualification to enhance his professional profile for attracting offers of professional work as an actor. He had become a full-time professional 3 or so years before this. We worked together to choose suitable performance pieces for the top-level acting qualification offered by The London Academy of Dramatic Art and in London on 17 April the following year, he achieved the Gold Medallion [Grade 8] with Merit and was commended for using his “strong, rich voice effectively” by the examiner.