Categories
Family Honesty

Five reasons to give yourself a break – homeschooling special

If there’s one thing that worries me right now, it’s the pressure I hear my friends putting themselves under about homeschooling. And it’s mostly women. That’s not to say my male friends aren’t worried but it’s exclusively my girlfriends who are posting online about how they’re trying to build lesson plans / find new ways to get their children engaged. This is at a time when many of them are also working. Or trying to work. Or trying to create a quiet environment where their partners can work. And worrying about their pets and their parents and whether there’s a way they could be “maximising this time” to learn a new language or master a complicated yoga move. And all I want to say to them is GIVE YOURSELF A BREAK! Especially when it comes to the endless worries about whether they can somehow make up for the lack of schooling.

But sometimes saying “give yourself a break” isn’t enough. So here’s my five reasons why I think you should.

1. You are not a teacher

You know how you’ve spent the past two decades building a career as an accountant or a business development exec or finally reaching the point where you can run your own business? That’s the stuff you feel drawn to and are good at. Don’t beat yourself up that you’re not able to demonstrate the joys of past participles to your kids! And even if you harbour an inner desire to switch to teaching have you ever noticed that teachers generally do not teach at the same school their children attend? There’s a reason for that! No matter how much your children love you they might not want you to be the one in charge of the whiteboard.

2. Your kids might not be missing lessons

My daughter told me yesterday that she would quite happily continue to learn online as long as she could still see her friends. She is loving the fact that she can pursue the topics she enjoys at a speed that suits her. What she misses is human contact so my job is to try to be a pleasant person to be around. After I told her I was enjoying the opportunity to talk with her more often, her reply was “I can’t believe I’m having to give you all my best conversation” – all I can say is lucky me, she’s got good chat 🙂 As for my son, he’s had an abrupt end to primary school and is thrilled that he doesn’t have to do SATs. Again, what he misses above anything else is the interaction. Negotiation, empathy and listening skills are the order of the day – no-one benefits from a shouting match about how much work has or hasn’t been done.

3. Your school isn’t expecting you to replace them

Has your local school headhunted you to teach? No! (See point 1). What has been heartening – and interesting – is that almost every communication from the schools my children go to has included phrases like “Every family is different”, “Every child will feel differently about learning right now”, “Family wellbeing comes first”, “Do what you can”. The only place I’m hearing “You must teach your children” is from other parents.

4. Kids look to us for the subtle stuff

Have you ever been caught out not paying attention by your children? Called out on stuff you tell them to do but don’t do yourself? They will be watching our reactions to this more closely than we realise. And they’ll be hearing all the swears we mutter under our breath 😉

5. This is not normal

We’ve had tears, anger, frustration, lots more “I love you’s” and hysterical laughter. This is not a normal time at all. My kids’ classrooms do not usually involve two dogs and two working parents. Their teachers do not participate in Zoom calls while expecting pupils to get on with writing a poem about idioms. They definitely have never had a 25kg dog break into the classroom and turn a rug over because it has seen a cat out of the window. (Although, that said we have heard stories of boys farting on desks, kids fighting in the corridors and teachers saying “screw this”….).

So it’s all binge eating and box sets is it?

I don’t think that’s the answer but if that’s what works in your house, what keeps everyone sane, then who am I to judge? My personal view is that to crave routine is normal, to try to recreate a classroom among the chaos we’re all living in is setting yourself an impossible task. If you do one thing this week, put “give yourself a break” on the timetable. And if you manage to do it, give yourself a gold star 🙂


Like this? You’ll find more true family stories and lighthearted looks at life in my book Reasons to be Cheerful Part II. Currently available on print and in download format on Amazon (the download is just £1.99 for the duration of lockdown – you’re welcome!).

You’ll also find more tales of family life on this blog. Here’s a recent one on entertaining your kids for free: https://tonikent.co.uk/2020/04/five-ways-to-entertain-your-children-for-free/

Categories
Honesty Work

Six things I’ve learned (so far) about working from home

Working from home used to feel like a luxury but when you have to do it full-time it becomes a slightly different proposition than a way to grab some cheeky time to yourself, or a chance to walk the children to and from school.  Having worked from home for 10 years, I thought I’d share what I’ve learned so far:

1. Inanimate objects have the power of telepathy

The washing up, the pile of post, the Lego that your children have distributed across the carpet. All of them sending out messages to attend to them. You will miss the days when you used to shut the door on it all and head to an office where the carpets are Lego-free.

a picture of the washing up

2. You will get through certain items at an alarming rate

Coffee, milk, bread, toilet roll. When you work in an office there are fairies that come and replenish these items. If you have the fortune to work for a corporate they may even top up your fruit bowl and have themed restaurant days where a chef will cook Chinese food for you at a vastly subsidised rate. This does not happen when you work from home and all that’s in your cupboard is a packet of Super Noodles.

3. Walking from one room to the other becomes a walk too far

What? You mean I have to walk from the spare room to the kitchen just to get a drink?! I’m not sure if it’s because you have to navigate the washing up / post / Lego to get to your destination but when I worked in a ‘proper’ office you would have thought my chair was on fire the amount of times I got up. That’s why…….

4. Sometimes doing the laundry is ok

With a chair that’s not on fire, and a feeling you can’t be bothered to cross the threshold from one room to another, let alone walk to the shops to replenish your coffee, milk and toilet roll, you’re in real danger of your bottom pooling until it cannot be freed from your chair without industrial cutters. Get up, stretch your legs, take five minutes out.

5. Mirrors and video calls are useful

Working on your own at home comes with a real risk of developing disgusting eating habits and unforgivable clothing combinations. Nobody wants to Zoom you to find you’re sitting in your pyjamas or that you have a big string of cheese hanging off your chin as you eat hunched over your laptop. Get dressed for calls or perhaps hang a mirror near your desk – just beware that you don’t turn into a budgie and start talking to your reflection….

6. Less time meeting, more time doing!

One of the trade-offs of working in an office is that you must regularly participate in the spirit-crushing activity that is Being In A Meeting. Usually someone will be late because they’ve stopped to buy a latte, or are in another meeting which is running over because everyone wanted a coffee. Sometimes you will get to the end of the meeting and nothing has been decided except flat whites are the new lattes. While there’s a distinct downside to not meeting your colleagues in person, now is definitely the time to embrace your opportunity to do!


Like this?  You’ll find more ‘top tips’ on working from home and tales of family life as if really is in Reasons to be Cheerful Part II – available for download for just £1.99 during lock down and £5.99 in print.

Categories
Family Honesty

Five realistic ways to entertain your children, for free!

Entertaining children is no walk in the park – especially if you’ve already had your exercise for the day and can’t walk in the park. There’s also the added pressure of unhelpful suggestions that somehow we should all be getting our kids to unleash their inner Galileo or Hawkins when all we want is Five. Minutes. Of. Peace!

So, to help other parents who are hanging by a thread after many, many weeks of being at home, and who don’t want to give any more money to Amazon, I thought I’d rack my brains for those times when my children have enjoyed themselves, it hasn’t cost me a penny and it hasn’t felt forced.  Here’s my top five:

1. Let them make a ‘potion’

Give the kids a bowl or jar and (almost) free reign to put what they like into it. When it’s complete, decant the potion into a used water bottle and ‘voila’ your very own ‘marvellous medicine’.  It will be disgusting but you will get at least 30 minutes peace.


Warning: Before you attempt this – make sure you’ve put the good stuff away or your favourite hand cream is going to go missing.

2. Funny face drawing game

Get a sheet of paper, fold it in three and take it in turns to draw parts of a face.  Warning can be addictive – you may need a ream of paper.

Double warning this can get very silly, very quickly – watch out for the addition of “wee and poo” to the character that you’ve worked so very hard to render accurately.

3. Tickets Please!

This was a much loved game in our family when the children were small. Here’s how it works:

  • You are the ticket inspector – it is your job to inspect your child’s ‘ticket’ (real or imaginary, either will do) and decide whether they are allowed to pass.
  • You never, ever allow your child to pass on the first go.  You must inspect the ticket, then explain in outraged voice why you cannot let them pass because their ticket is out of date / for a different mode of transport / poo-stained.
  • Once you decide to let them pass, you must let them think they’ve got away with it before exclaiming “Hey!  That ticket says Mickey Mouse / is a used chip wrapper / is poo-stained!”
  • You then chase them around the house / garden until they are back at the start.

4. Shout at your children in a foreign accent

This game started in our family when we found ourselves stuck in a caravan with no TV on a very wet day.  Having become frustrated at the children’s failure to listen to me shouting at them not to play with the pull-out bed, I thought I’d give it a go whilst using a German accent (and the handful of German words that I know).  It resulted in unexpected hilarity and gave us a welcome respite from playing Uno for the 130th time.

Note: You don’t need to speak a second language to succeed in this game, but you do need to shout like you believe it.  

5. If all else fails…..give them an Argos catalogue

I reckon Argos could compete with serious publishing houses for the amount of print that they produce…and the popularity of their free doorstop-sized shopping bibles.  This popularity seems not to have waned with the advent of the digital generation – my children used love them more than the internet (they’re 11 and 13 now so, of course, TikTok rules).

Far from turning them into mad consumers it made them aware of how much things cost, encouraged conversations about saving, and there was the extra bonus of there being absolutely no risk of them clicking a link and adding twelve Lego Death Star kits to my basket.

Warning: You need one per child or a war will start.  No-one wants to be given the furniture section while the other one gets the toys….

So those are my top five – perhaps not quite enough to get us all the way through lockdown but it’s a start – if you’ve got anymore let me know!

Like this?  You’ll find more parenting ‘top tips’ and tales of family life as if really is in Reasons to be Cheerful Part II – available for download for just £1.99 during lock down and £5.99 in print.

Categories
Compering Giving back Honesty Performing Stand up

Man Up? Time to talk about Mental Health

“Man up, sit down
Chin up, pipe down
Socks up, don’t cry
Drink up, just lie
Grow some balls he said,
Grow some balls..”

Powerful lyrics by IDLES on the topic of toxic masculinity. They make me think about the impact that language like this has and it’s why I’m supporting Emma-Jane Taylor by compering her event on male mental health in aid of Mind and Rethink Mental Illness.

men's mental health talk info

Featuring a panel of mental health advocates and experts (and a bit of stand up from me) it’s open to men and women. You are welcome to bring your teenagers too!

So, if you’re interested in exploring how to encourage open conversations about male mental health, come along to the Hotel du Vin & Bistro in Henley on Thursday 23rd April at 6pm.

Tickets are available in return for a donation – click here to book yours.


Want to find out where I’m performing next? Click here.

Got an event with purpose coming up and need a compere? Book me by emailing toni@tonikent.co.uk

Categories
Honesty Performing poetry Uncategorized

Why I Need a Wife

A few years ago I sat down and wrote a poem that reflected the frustration I was feeling with combining a career with parenthood. Before I share it with you, I should state that Mr Kent does his fair share of heavy lifting when it comes to family life – I definitely don’t have to go it alone.

But….but. There are just some things that seem to fall to a woman to do. And I’ll be honest, there are some things that I quite like to do. When it suits me. Having worked as a cleaner between the ages of 14 and 16, there are times when I love a bit of hoovering or scrubbing the grouting on our floor tiles. However, show me a toilet seat that has piss on it for the fifteenth time that week (par for the course with a boy in the house) and I am going to get very angry indeed.

And given that I’m self-employed, and work from home, it makes sense that I am the one who is there when the children are ill. Part of my reason for leaving corporate life was to be more available for the kids but it doesn’t mean that I always want to do it. When the children were much younger, it seemed like they were ill every other week – our nursery seemed to have a policy of checking the children’s temperature at the door. How I longed for the slap-dash parenting approach of my childhood where digital thermometers didn’t exist.

There was also the small matter of nursery and school assuming that everything should come to me first – why do I get top billing? Then there’s organising play dates which in my experience is almost exclusively a mum-to-mum conversation. Same goes for taking them to parties (oh the horror of having to hang around in a hot soft play), completing permission slips and sewing on badges.

It’s small stuff, I know, but bloody hell it’s wearing. Parenting is relentless, marriage is compromise and maintaining a sense of yourself without being a selfish arsehole can be a tricky tightrope to walk.

So I wrote the poem. And it opened up doors for me. It led to the publication of my book and dozens of paid stand up performances. My initial print run of 500 copies is almost sold out and the tally of people I’ve performed to now runs into the thousands. Not bad for something that was designed to help me let off steam.

You’ll find the poem below. If you want to book me to speak, perform or would like to buy a copy of the book, drop me a line at toni@tonikent.co.uk

I Need a Wife

I need a wife

Someone to organise my life

To do the shopping, pay the bills too

Someone to clean around the loo


Someone who remembers when term ends

When homework’s due. Someone who sends

Completed forms, and makes dates to play

Who never forgets an inset day


Someone who remembers all the clubs

Gymnastics….beavers…..judo….cubs

Who does the washing, the drying, the washing again

Who sorts darks from delicates, whites and then


Someone who can magically find

The one sock that got left behind


Someone to stem the tide of mess

Sew on badges, hem a dress

Insure the house and tax the car

Someone who knows where my bloody keys are


I look around my life and see

It’s chaos if you’re married to me

The kids’ shoes are missing

Disorder is rife

I’ve just got to face it

I need a wife

Review of I Need a Wife by June Sarpong
Categories
Family Honesty

A Christmas carol

You know when you think you’re just going to hear a few Christmas carols being sung by your child’s class and it turns out to be a full blown church service?  That’s precisely what happened to me recently.  Perhaps the fact it was held in an abbey should have alerted me, but I couldn’t help but feel unprepared for ‘what I was about to receive’.

It wasn’t all bad though; the singing was great, the abbey was awe inspiring, I didn’t go up in flames and I learned a very useful lesson – some things never change when it comes to carol services.  I’m willing to bet you’ll find the same things too:

1. There will be a child who actually sounds like an angel

To the boy who sang the first two lines of ‘Once in Royal David’s City’, on his own, in the abbey, in front of hundreds of people – thank you, your voice is a rare and beautiful thing.

2. Two things about ‘We Three Kings’

i. The alternative version

If the person next to you also knows the “one in a taxi, one in a car, one on a scooter beeping his hooter” version it will offer you a wonderful moment of bonding.  It will also offer you the opportunity to pass on a tradition when you teach it to your children later on that day.

If you’re really lucky, your child will later furnish you with the following bonus lyrics:

“Star of wonder, star of light, star that set my knickers alight. Westward leading, still proceeding, fill my pants with dynamite.”

ii. There is a pause

Don’t rush into “Oh star of wonder” – oh no.  It actually goes “Ohhhhhhhhhhh (wait for it) …… star of wonder”.  The woman next to me said it reminded her of the punk version of Nellie the Elephant.  Which means that I now have two reasons to giggle my way through the carol.  And two ways in which to get it wrong.

3. ‘Oh Little Town of Bethlehem’ sorts out the regulars from the visitors

Doesn’t matter how many times I sing this, I always forget that “How silently, how silently” should be sung quietly (shhhhhhhhh)

4. You will revert to childhood at some point

I found myself raising my eyebrows at the re-telling of the immaculate conception and associated on/off/on again of Mary & Joesph’s marriage, especially as it was being read by a child.  So when I heard a man behind me say, “Oh, isn’t the text wonderful”, I presumed he was joking.  But as I turned to him in shared mirth I discovered that he was in fact A MONK.  A monk that was stood next to A NUN.  Neither of them were laughing.  Oh the hot flush of chastisement coupled with wanting to cry with embarrassed laughter.  Such. A. Child. 

5. ‘Silent Night’ is best left to the children

Even the nun didn’t try “sleep in heavenly pea……..eeeeeeeeece”.  Too high.  Best sung by six year olds.

6. Two things about ‘Oh Come All Ye Faithful’

i. It’s that volume thing again – the choruses start quietly.
ii. It contains the line, “He abhors not the virgin’s womb”.  And there’s no way I’m singing it.  Update it to “he didn’t doubt for one second that there wasn’t a reason to totally love and respect that woman’s womb” and I’ll consider it.

7. You’ll probably cry at some point

For me it’s all about ‘Away in a Manger’.  Can’t help it.

8.  ‘Sing Hosanna’ – still challenging

When I was at school the infants used to add an extra “of kings” right at the end of the chorus.  I went to one of my daughter’s first carol concerts and guess what?  It happened then, and it’s still happening today. 

9.  You should shake hands with the vicar on the way out

Whether it’s “thanks for the carol service”, “Merry Christmas” or “that’s out of the way for another year”, it seems a fitting way to finish.


Like my writing? Check out my books

Want to hear me perform for real? Book me by emailing toni@tonikent.co.uk

Categories
Family Honesty poetry

What every woman wants for Christmas

Darling, don’t buy me a Dyson

When you’re out Christmas shopping this year

There’s something else I’ve got my eyes on

But it seems that my hints are not clear


Sweetie, do not buy me saucepans

I don’t care how special they are

And I would think twice, if you think it is nice

To buy anything that’s “for the car”


Lover, do not buy me lingerie

That is tacky, or lacking in taste

Yes to knickers of silk, or a similar ilk

But not with holes “strategically placed”


Honey, if you buy me bathroom scales

You may find them wrapped round your head

I don’t want to measure the price of food pleasure

I’d like something special instead


Something that’s unique and fabulous

Something to take my breath away

Something that’s killer, as my stocking filler

To give me the best Christmas Day


But don’t expect me just to tell you

What I want, or which shop to go

If you want the surprise to light up in my eyes

I expect you to simply just know.


Like this? I regularly perform stand up and poetry for a wide range of audiences. To book me, email toni@tonikent.co.uk

Categories
Dogs Honesty Storytelling

How to work from home when you’ve got a new puppy and a dog

What do you do when your dog gets a little bit easier to manage? You get a puppy – that’s what you do! And so it was that our family recently welcomed young Luna to join our 2 1/2 year-old Vinnie – completing our family (hopefully) for once and for all.

Having written previously about what having a dog does to your life, I thought now was a good time to update you if you’re wondering whether to add a puppy to your brood.

1. Wake up. A lot.

You know ‘Rock Around the Clock‘ – where Bill Hayley sings “One, two, three o’clock, four o’clock, rock”. Having a new puppy is a bit like that, except those are the times you’ll be waking up as your puppy decides:

  • One o’clock: She doesn’t want to be in a crate
  • Two o’clock: She needs a wee
  • Three o’clock: She needs a wee
  • Four o’clock: She wants a cuddle

And let’s not forget the times in between when your dog gets annoyed with the puppy cuddling up next to him. Or hears a noise. Or thinks that there may be a cat within 15 miles of your home.

2. Feed the dogs

While you have trained your dog to sit patiently and wait for his food, your puppy still needs to learn. Until she does, she will shriek like a banshee and pogo like a punk. You will regret the open-plan extension you built and wish for the cosy sound-absorbing kitchen you used to have.

3. Go for a walk

Now with one dog that is fully mature (although robbed of his knackers – poor boy!), and one puppy that cannot go on long walks, you have the following dilemma. Do you…..?

A. Walk the dog, crate the puppy, then walk the puppy later.

B. Walk the dog and the puppy together, but put the puppy in a rucksack on your front once she’s had her requisite mini-walk.

I went for Option B, because I thought it would be fun. And she would look cute. It was, and she did, but my puppy weighed close to 7 kilos. That’s is a lot of kgs to carry on your front. Especially when your dog likes a good three-mile stroll to start his day.

4. Hop on a conference call

All I can say is thank christ I am freelance. And that working from home is the norm for most of my clients. And that most of them have dogs. One call involved four attendees with five dogs between them. The person who didn’t have a dog was under pressure from his wife to get one. I’m unsure whether the assorted yipping, whining and barking from everyone’s hounds convinced him.

WHAT I WILL SAY IS……despite all the distraction – including my colleague’s dog barking because she heard me say “postman” (!) – we managed to hold it together enough to conduct a detailed discussion on virtual desktops. Perhaps having that level of distraction sharpens your game. More likely we’re all so bloody desperate for non-canine contact that the call was like a lifeline to the outside world and we devoured those technology words like a meal at Le Manoir.

5. Try to write something

A call is one thing, getting into “flow” is quite another. If you don’t have a puppy, you can have an immersive, ‘virtual puppy’ experience by doing this:

  1. Stab yourself in the hand, ankle or thigh every five seconds with a fork to emulate a puppy’s teeny tiny teeth.
  2. Go and stand in your garden every ten minutes to experience the joy of ‘encouraging’ your puppy to have a wee or poo. This can be made even more realistic by squealing, “Wee-wee – good girl!”
  3. To mimic a dog clambering onto your laptop while you’re trying to work, press the palm of your hand firmly onto your keyboard. Then swipe your hand across like Little Richard giving it the full Tutti Frutti. For an enhanced effect, lick your thumb and wipe it across the screen.
  4. Make a cup of coffee. Slosh it liberally across the table.
  5. Depending on the breed of virtual puppy you have in mind, trim an appropriate amount of hair from your head and sprinkle it on your clothes / in your keyboard.
  6. Steam clean your floor.
  7. And again – your virtual puppy has just wee’d in the hallway.
  8. Give up on the idea of writing then notice your puppy is sleeping. Write like a demon.

6. And finally…

Book a meeting for the following day. Announce to your partner the moment they get through the door that tomorrow it’s their turn 🙂


Want more puppy dog tales? Try these:

What to expect when your dog has been neutered

Doggy style

Or you can buy the books.


Want to hear some of my material? Book me for stand up or come along to one of my performances.

Categories
Honesty Performing Storytelling

A one minute story

What story would you tell if you only had one minute? This was the challenge last week when I participated in the regional heats for BBC Radio’s New Voices. The temptation was to go for something funny but this time I went with my heart, telling the story of my beautiful friend and a memorable walk to school.

A one minute story about a walk to school

If you’d like to hear the longer version – here’s the original:

Oh, and if you’re wondering, the judging panel said ‘yes’! Round two beckons but so far, no-one knows what it will entail….

Categories
Compering Honesty Storytelling Technology Work

The Value of Vulnerability

Vulnerability in the tech industry is dirty word. Firewalls must be robust, infrastructure must be secure, and if you’ve not got a handle on your data, you might as well write your own headline for The Register. In the past eight years I have written enough whitepapers and thought leadership pieces for vendors, developers and solution providers to paper a datacentre, so the spectre of what happens in a cyber attack is never far from my mind.

But there is a place in tech where vulnerability is valuable – in leadership. At the same time as putting the fear of God into enterprises, I have worked closely with founders, CMOs and CTOs to help them bring to the fore what they’re all about. And it isn’t about being a bullet-proof, bombastic uber-director who can crush a competitor with their bare hands. It’s about putting themselves in a position of vulnerability.

A distinctly non-corporate approach

So what does vulnerability look like? For the people I work with, it’s about taking a distinctly non-corporate approach – but one that recognises and respects the business. This means:

  • Sharing a little about themselves
  • Acknowledging fears and going for it anyway
  • Challenging misconceptions
  • Having fun

Hello all you risk-takers

A common trait that I have found amongst the people I work with is that they are used to taking risks in their professional and personal lives but they haven’t found a way to comfortably combine the two. They worry about getting it wrong, making themselves look stupid or undermining the credibility that they’ve already built. In an era when we are told to ‘bring your whole self to work’ it is very hard to strike that balance when you are carrying the number or responsible for a team of seasoned solution architects.

Creating a connection

The place in which demonstrating vulunerability is particularly effective is at company events where, let’s be honest, even the most dedicated of us will flag at the twenty-fifth mention of the conference tag-line or call to action. They provide a rare opportunity for employees to connect with their leadership in person – and a perfect setting to deliver something memorable. I mean, you’ve got great lighting, proper AV, an autocue and a captive (and possibly hung-over) audience – don’t waste that on another set of BORING SLIDES!

Here’s an idea

If you’re starting from a blank page, it’s hard to know what will work. And if you’re only working with people within your organisation, it can feel difficult to come up with a truly fresh idea. So here’s an example of something really works well.

Using poetry and rap

I’ve written raps about annual reports and poems on the focus for the next fiscal. And, because it’s always using words related to that business (and often name-checking people on the team), it brings the right balance of corporate and comedic. It also provides a chance for a leader to express vulnerability without feeling like they have to share something overly personal. Most people recoil in horror at the thought of having to recite a poem or rap on stage but most leaders are already comfortable speaking in front of a large audience. Using poetry or rap provides a great stretch for the presenter and something memorable for the audience.

That was so brave

The feedback from the audiences who have witnessed their leaders truly embrace this has been phenomenal. “I could never do that”, “That was so brave”, “It was amazing!”. In one particular instance, I worked with the incredible Leanne Brown to create a piece that she completely and utterly owned – going so far as to create a video with a soundtrack. As a marketing leader she was epitomising creativity and effective messaging. She also created an asset that could be re-used (another marketing gold star). To find out more about what Leanne did, and why it was important to her, check out her post.

Make it easy on yourself

What Leanne did so brilliantly was find a way to make the rap we worked on together work for her. Learning lyrics off-pat is fine if you’re Stormzy but then I wonder how he is with running a partner summit…..

With another client we changed the words to a massive hip-hop track. This meant that the audience were already with her as the opening bars rang out and when it got to the chorus they were joining in. Putting a spin on something that was familiar got people to up their energy levels and engage. There was even a mini-stage invasion.

Finally, for one VP of Sales, we decided on a poem but he didn’t want to deliver it from a lectern. Instead, we put his poem in a book and set it up like a cosy fireside chat – giving him the opportunity to draw the audience in so they would listen closely before surprising them with his lyrical dexterity.

In each of these instances, the leaders involved showed their willingness to be vulnerable by opening themselves up to a new challenge. The conference attendees got to see people who are at the top of their game professionally doing something a little bit risky. It demonstrated that the organisations they work for are open to doing things differently – and that they see value in vulnerability.

—————-

As I writer I help tech leaders express themselves honestly and bring a human touch to corporate communications.

As a speaker and stand-up, I tell it like it is.