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Public speaking online tips from a BBC presenter. Avoid distractions. Have good lighting. Engage and enjoy. Those were tips from our guest speaker Ben Shires.

Here’s a brief introduction to Ben’s career so far:

– BBC television presenter
– Guinness World Records broadcaster and expert
– Presenter for the Premier LeagueBAFTA and Southbank Centre
– Qualified lawyer
– Stand up comic and podcast host.

In today’s Q&A, Ben discusses resilience and determination witnessed in his work with Guinness World Records, why humour should be used by businesses more frequently, and the three simple ways to present confidently online.

What are your tips for public speaking and presenting online?

Avoid distractions. Sometimes it’s not possible but if you can do, have space where you can focus on the broadcast. Similarly, to if you have a live audience, if you start looking around or your attention is elsewhere the audience will lose interest. 

have good lighting. I’ve recently bought some small box lights for £35 after being recommended them by people working at the BBC.

Engage and enjoy. Be the person that you would be when you get up in front of an audience. Be lively, energetic and put through your personality. Just because you’re behind a screen doesn’t mean you have to screen off the performance. Just because you’re at home, don’t be too relaxed!

What’s the mindset of a World Record Holder?

They’re incredibly driven. The beauty of someone aiming to break a world record is clear. World Record Holders that I’ve met usually have a very strong mindset, are determined and are hugely dedicated to achieving their goals.

The wackiest World Record Holder has to be Igor Zaripov who can pull a double decker bus with his teeth.

I was lucky enough to be there for the attempt. He’d flown over to London and we’d arranged a special double decker bus. There was loads of press gathered… then it didn’t move at all. I was thinking to myself: this is horrifying. At that moment it would’ve been so easy for him to just give up. But he persevered, he knew he could do it.

20 minutes later he pulled himself together and did it. It made amazing TV: not only was there jeopardy leading to that final jubilation, but it really showed his mental strength and how he got into the zone mentally. The embarrassment, awkwardness and physical limitations could’ve forced him to give up.

The mental strength he displayed can be applied to anything: business or life. Sometimes you work really hard at something and despite all your best efforts, it’s not quite coming off. But you know it should be. At the point, some people might give up, but those with real resilience and determination will give it a bit more.

It was one of the early records we filmed and was a real eye opener considering what he achieved. 

What do you think about professionals and business leaders using comedy in their communications?

If you’re not doing it, why not? Of course, you’ve got to be careful. If you’ve got a serious message, then it’s obviously not necessary.

But I’ve always felt that comedy is a great conjugate to communicate with people. What sometimes might feel like a boring subject can be massively elevated by a gag.

We all use humour in all parts in our life. That’s no different when delivering a corporate talk, webinar or meeting with your team.

Is there a world record you’ve covered that you thought you could beat?

Many, yes, but also many that I thought not a chance. Some were physically brutal, disgusting, or you couldn’t get your head around the physics of them.

We ran the Officially Amazing show where we’d cover 6-8 records per show. Over the course of the series we probably covered 600-800. Every episode we’d include a section of records you could try at home. There’d be coin stacking records that we’d try to beat!

I was once the holder of one of the most highly sought after records: most  tennis balls caught in a boxing glove in one minute.

There’s someone in Japan that’s whole career is devoted to breaking records. At the moment he’s trying to break the record for most amount of CD’s caught between his cheeks. He’s so good at being able to do the sublime and the ridiculous.

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