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Thursday, June 26, 2008

Travel and Speaking Tips - England

We moved from South Africa to England fifteen years ago and for four years I worked in the City of London. It is now one of my favourite cities in the world. Flattened and rebuilt several times in the course of its long life, London is a fascinating combination of the new mingled with the very old. It has been said that when you tire of London, you tire of life. There is plenty to see and do and it is heralded as the theatrical centre of the world. Some of the great attractions include, The Tower of London, Buckingham Palace, The Eye of London, St Paul’s Cathedral, Westminster Abbey to name just a few.

Oxford Street is famous for its shopping and if your credit card stretches far enough, visit Harrods, one of the most exclusive department stores in the world.

The transport system is great to get around with when you don’t have a car with the ‘underground tube’ taking you wherever you want to go. A one-day travel card costs around £8 and gives you unlimited travel on the tube and London’s double decker buses. A cab drive with the London Black Taxis is a great experience and if your driver is a cockney, you’ll love the rhyming slang language and their sense of humour.

Dining out is a wonderful gastronomic experience with different ethnic foods to tempt your palate and there are many good and also many not so good hotels to stay in and the small size of some hotel rooms are a disappointment to many visitors. Don’t be surprised when you see the prices, as London is well renowned to be one of the most expensive cities in the world.

Moving out of London, a short drive or rail trip will take you to the beautiful town of Windsor renowned for Windsor Castle, one of the Queen’s residences and Eton College where many of the Royals complete their education. The vast countryside in Britain is a wonderful sight to behold and the little villages along the way offer exquisite antique shops to visit, country tea houses serving fresh scones, jam and cream and interesting places to visit.

A day at Henley on Thames for the boat races is a must - see the photograph above.

British audiences are wonderful, but you need to do some research. They are very conservative and do not enjoy talks that encourage audience participation. Some time ago, an American speaker who was on the same programme as me started his talk by asking the audience to stand and repeat, “I feel good, I feel fine, I’m fantastic all the time”. The audience was very embarrassed and his talk went downhill from there. The English sense of humour is very different from that of the Americans as is their taste in sport. The British are passionate about “football”, rugby and cricket and have very little knowledge of American football, basketball, baseball or ice hockey.

Watch the television, travel in the city, read the newspapers and then adapt your talk accordingly. Many of my friends from the USA have adapted their talks and consequently have been invited back numerous times.

There are many excellent venues to speak at, my favourite being the National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham, which is two hours north of London. Manchester, the home of the football team Manchester United also offers many speaking opportunities and is the second largest city in England.

There are around 35 bureaus in the UK, but they are different to many other countries in that they are very much celebrity focused. The British love celebrities, sports stars and TV personalities, so it can take a while to establish yourself with them if you are a business speaker. I work with about four bureaus who I have established a good relationship with, and then concentrate on my own marketing efforts to keep the diary full.

There are many CEO groups where you will be in front of prospective clients as well as numerous networking organisations. Always contact the Professional Speakers Association to attend some of the meetings while you are here.

Next month, Scotland, Wales and Ireland
Frank Furness CSP CFP TOT is a professional speaker and trainer specialising in technology, sales and customer service. He has educated, entertained and inspired audiences in 48 countries. Frank is the author of bestselling books ‘Walking with Tigers – Success Secrets of the World’s Top Business Leaders’ and ‘How to Find New Clients and Business’

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