Between us, we’ve commissioned and watched thousands of presentations. We’ve also delivered many hundreds, and know just how terrifying it can be. Here are our top 32 do’s and don’ts when giving a talk, whether a day-long course to 500 or critical pitch to just three. Just make sure you don’t ever – ever – fall over furniture on the stage. By Alan Rutter and Simone Baird
There’s no way to rescue a presentation with flashy visuals if you don’t have a clear story that you’re telling your audience. However, smart use of graphics can lift your slides and create a bigger impact.
Here are a few free tools (for those of us who aren’t graphic designers) that you can use to make your presentation sing.
It’s a Catch 22 when you’re starting out as a freelance writer – commissioning editors want to see what other work you’ve done, but you’re trying to get your first byline.
There’s no guaranteed way to get a foot in the door, but here are a few tips for getting that initial break.
Having worked as both freelance journalists and commissioning editors, we’ve worked on (and rejected) a huge number of story pitches.
Rejected pitches can just be bad (addressed to the wrong person, littered with typos, totally wrong for the intended publication, or 7000 words long).
But often they’re batted away because they don’t get the story across clearly. That tends to be because they’re missing one of three key elements.
Always approach commissioning editors by email, rather than phone.
Emails are more convenient to receive: editors can read when it suits them rather than waiting for you to take a breath so they can explain that you’ve called exactly as their pages are being laid out by the designers and the production manager has just flagged that they’ve lost a page and they’re desperately trying to cut features down. Commissioning editors will also have an emailing filing system, usually sorted by publication issue or section.
Find section editor names and emails on the masthead – the list of names, job titles and contact details – otherwise call reception and ask who is the most appropriate person to send a pitch to.
Hassling clients to pay invoices is an inevitable part of being a freelance writer.
You must allocate sufficient time every month to keep on top of your invoices and payments. Most publications struggle with cashflow and freelance contributors can be right at the bottom of the pile. Set an alert when your invoice is due and then start – very politely – chasing payment the following day.
Tuesday 2nd December 2014
At this lunchtime talk, Leon Dalloway founder of Shake, Rattle and Stir, will inspire you to turn your passion into a money-making success. Leon is an award-winning, knowledge-thirsty bartender who wanted to teach people about the world of alcohol so in August 2013 he founded Shake, Rattle and Stir and now he runs booze tours around the city (which are booked up months in advance). Leon will reveal what he’s learnt in the last year from how to find the ‘gap in the market’ and successfully launch your brand to spreading the word and keeping the money coming in. You’ll find out if friends make good business allies, how to maintain your passion and just how much business experience you really need to get your idea off the ground.
Thursday 27th November 2014
Forget writing a novel: everyone in London has an idea for the perfect start-up business. But how can you tell whether that initial spark has the potential to turn into a burning reality – ideally before you expend huge amounts of time and cash? Simone Bard and Alan Rutter, authors of Guardian ebook ‘Launching a Creative Startup’, have interviewed to hundreds of people who have found success with their own businesses, and more importantly made the mistakes that you can learn from. In this lunchtime talk with Q&A, they’ll run through the techniques and processes that will allow you to test and adapt your business idea without breaking the bank.
Monday 24th November 2014
Financial control, end of year accounts, cash flow, profit and loss: if you’re a creative, chances are you’ll get an allergic reaction to anything finance-related. However, handing this aspect of your business over to somebody else without really understanding it would be your costliest mistake as an entrepreneur or self-employed freelancer. Paul Rakker, chief financial officer at Frieze, and director and advisor to numerous start-ups, introduces the basics of finance in this lunchtime talk.
Wednesday 19th November 2014
Have you got an idea for a book but no clue how to approach a publisher or get that brainwave into print? You need to meet Kate Pollard, publisher at independent publisher Hardie Grant Books which specialises in non-fiction titles. In this lunchtime talk, Kate will dispel all the common myths about getting published and tell you everything you need to know about how to best express your idea to a publisher, who to approach and how to do it. You’ll leave with all the insider tips for how to turn your book into a reality, plus afterwards you’ll even get a chance to ask her what she thinks of your idea!