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Watch this space for news of events and developments...

01-01-10 New Decade New Space

Clients of The Speaker's Friend can now have first class presentation skills coaching in customised facilities just off Sheffield Parkway.

Along with ample space for hosting high- impact training courses, workshops and seminars, the central facility at the Hart Shaw Building at Sheffield Business Park on Europa Way, is a space dedicated to one-and-one and small group coaching and mentoring.

Paul Sykes, Managing Director and Principal Presentation Coach of The Speaker's Friend said "This is a great opportunity for us to be able to let our clients gain first hand experience of using various presentation tools and pieces of equipment. We also have the added benefit of instant video feedback which means they can see for themselves exactly what they are doing right and where improvements can be made.

"Clients that have used our mobile video feedback system tell us that seeing themselves whilst being supported by a professional coach makes a massive difference and adds greatly to their confidence levels as they have seen with their own eyes how good they are."

23-07-07 University Challenge

The Speaker's Friend is delighted to have reached an agreement with the IT Academy, the commercial IT training arm of York University, to develop and deliver a ground-breaking new course called PowerPoint Live!

The course is a unique blend of software application training and presentation skills training.

Andrew Bettany MCSE, MCT, manager of the IT Academy, said "For the first time that we are aware of, participants will be able to get hands-on training in the world's leading presentation software and expert presentation delivery coaching during the same course."

Whilst Paul Sykes, Managing Director of The Speaker's Friend added "PowerPoint gets a lot of bad press these days, with the phrase 'death by PowerPoint' in common use.  We believe that,used properly and professionally, PowerPoint can significantly increase the impacct of a presentation.  This course will help people to do just that."

Further information about the IT Academy is available at: and details of  PowerPoint Live can be downloaded by clicking here.

08-03-07 Magna Erupted!

Last night around 500 people from all over the country joined the management, staff and sponsors of the Magna Science Adventure in Rotherham to help them celebrate the opening of their new £2.7 million corporate facilities at the venue and The Speaker's Friend was at the forefront of the event.

Under its brand powwowpartners, Paul Sykes, Managing Director of The Speaker's Friend, was M.C. for a spectacular evening of amazing food, excellent wine, stunning entertainment and generous fund raising for Sheffield Children's Hospital Trust.

The opportunity to sponsor the event arose through the close relationship the Magna and The Speaker's Friend have developed over the last six months.  Staff at Magna have been coached to improve their presentations skills, whilst prospective and existing clients of Magna are being offered speaker and presentation management services from powwowpartners.

"We see this as a great opportunity for all concerned," Paul told us. "Magna adds yet another reason for event organisers to choose it, while the organisers can trust a professional firm to look after their speakers' needs, which, in turn, helps the speakers do the best they can on the day."

14-02-07 One Hundred and Sixteen Accountants But Not One Sandwich - Why?

Records were broken last night when the York branch of the Chartered Institute of Management Accounts hosted one of its regular monthly branch meetings; the reason - presentation skills!

Whereas local branch meetings typically draw an audience of between 20 and 40, this one, entitled Crucial Presentation Skills for Finance Professionals, to be delivered by Paul Sykes of The Speaker's Friend, attracted advance bookings from 116. 

"This caused some challenges to the local branch," Paul told us. "Originally, sandwiches, tea and coffee were due to be served on arrival at the meeting.  Then, when numbers exceeded initial estimates the organisers realised that a bigger room was needed and that catering would have to be cut back to fit within budget.  So, the sandwiches were changed to Danish Pastries.  But when booking continued to flood in, the plan had to be changed for a second time and Danish Pastries gave way to biscuits and an even bigger room!"

We understand that the increase in number also caused Paul to rethink elements of his presentation too, as some of the things you can do with a small group don't work so well with a larger one.

The talk, which lasted for 90 minutes including a question and answer session, encouraged accountants to speak with belief and passion, putting themselves in the shoes of their audiences when preparing to speak.  The group was reminded that accountants often speak in a language that normal people don't understand, using their own jargon and so failing to get their messages across.

The evening was a great success with audience feedback rating the presentation very highly.

Please click here for a copy of the presentation slides used.

01-01-07 Cutting it in Steel City

After the success of The Speaker's Friend in Rotherham, the company moved to new premises in the heart of Sheffield on the 1st January 2007.

"Although Rotherham was a great place for us to do business in South Yorkshire," said Paul Sykes Principal Presentation Coach at The Speaker's Friend, "we found that whenever we spoke with people from outside of the area they had no idea where Rotherham was!"

This led the high-growth coaching firm to look for a new base in a better known location.  When space at Sheffield Technology Parks' Cooper Buildings became available, the business felt it had found the perfect new home.

Paul told us "The facilities are just right, the staff are very helpful and professional and, with our move into presentation technology, the environment is ideal to help us serve our clients even more effectively."

The new contact details are:
The Cooper Buildings, Arundel Street, Sheffield. S1 2NS.
Tel: 0114 221 6004 Fax: 0114 221 1801

21-08-06 BBC Radio Wedding Family Get Help With Speech

BBC Radio Sheffield's Breakfast Show is following the progress of a local family in the days leading up to their wedding day, on the 26th August.

The Speaker's Friend were contacted by BCC Radio Sheffield to help a nervous Father-of-the-Bride with his speech - with less than one week to go.

Fortunately, the Champagne Words Team from The Speaker's Friend was ready with the S.O.S. (Save Our Speech) service and swung into action.

"People required to make wedding speeches often feel under a great deal of pressure. This is especially true for the Father-of-the-Bride, who, being more mature, feels obliged to say something wise and memorable, as well as witty," said Paul Sykes, Principal Coach at The Speaker's Friend.  "We were delighted to be asked to help and we are looking forward to getting involved."

The big question is, will the coaching pay off?  Find out this week by tuning in to BBC Radio Sheffield's Breakfast & Lunchtime Shows on 88.6, 94.7 and 104.1 FM, on-line and on DAB.

Following successful discussions bewteen Paul Reeves, Commercial Training Manager of Chamber Skills Solutions, Paul Sykes of The Speaker's Friend has been contracted to deliver two presentations skills training courses during the winter 2006/07 programme.

The first course focuses on presentations which rely heavily on visual aids and is being delivered on 26th Oct 2006 and 7th Feb 2007.  Click here to get course overview details.

The second course looks at those situations where it is just you and an audience.  Often referred to as "public speaking", these situations rely on speaker presence, the use of story telling techniques and a host of other "non-visual" methods of ensuring success. 

This course is being delivered on 6th Dec 2006 and 12th Mar 2007. If you would like to download course details click here.

"We are delighted to be able to work with the four Chambers of Commerce," said Paul, MD of The Speaker's Friend. "These courses are a great way for people to get easy, low-cost, local training in subjects that are central to personal success in so many walks of life."

20-07-06 South Yorkshire Gets Presentation Skills Training Opportunities

South Yorkshire's Chamber Skills Solutions, the training delivery arm of the four South Yorshire Chambers of Commerce, has signed an agreement with The Speaker's Friend for the delivery of public presentation skills training courses.

Although The Speaker's Friend only moved to the area in April 2005, Chamber Skills Solutions were quick to recognise the potential of expanding and improving its presentation skills curriculum.

"We are delighted to have been able to redefine our courses, in what is a very popular and crucial area," said Paul Reeeves, Head of Chamber Skills Solutions. "When I met with Paul Sykes, from The Speaker's Friend, he suggested that promising to deliver everything you needed to know about presentation skills and public speaking in just one day was ever so slightly unrealistic."

Chamber Skills Solutions now offers two courses.  Speaking To An Audience is designed for people who need to learn how to speak without the use of visual aids.  It focuses on tone of voice, movement, the use of anecdotes and how to give a speech at a moment's notice.

On the other hand, Professional Presentation Skills is aimed at those who need to work with visual aids effectively.  Paul Sykes told us "it doesn't matter how hi-tech or lo-tech the visual aid, if the presenter doesn't come over as its master, the audience is highly likely to switch off!" This course not only help speakers with the content, structure and delivery of their presentations, but it gives them crucial hints and tips on using visual aids to maximum effect.

Click here for more information about Chamber Skills Solutions

27-06-06 Sheffield Chamber Masterclasses

The Speaker's Friend was proud to be able to join forces with Marketing Direction Associates to develop and present a new marketing and sales masterclass.

Len Smith of Marketing Direction and Paul Sykes of The Speaker's Friend were booked by the Sheffield Chamber of Commerce and Industry to present their Effective Business Presentations masterclass on the morning of 27th June but wanted something else to run in the afternooon.

"We thought that going back to basics on marketing and sales would have a wide appeal in member organisations of all sizes," said Len, "and its certainly proved true with over 40 people attending our new 'Yes, You Can Do Marketing & Sales' masterclass."

Feedback from the event was excellent and a number of those attending have asked Paul and Len to discuss other opportunities with them following the two sessions.

Please contact us if you are interested in holding either seminar in your company/area.

20-06-06 At Last - Rapid Relief For Wedding Speechmakers

The Best Western Elton Hotel in Bramley, Rotherham isn't the first place you would think of as the pioneering centre of the universe.  However, following a chance meeting between Dawn Bainbridge of the hotel and Lynne Sykes of The Speaker's Friend at a Rotherham Chamber of Commerce Women In Business event, that is exactly what it has become.

The Speaker's Friend has developed an innovative workshop programme for those who are faced with having to make a speech at a wedding and the Best Western Elton Hotel will be the first UK venue to offer it to its wedding clients commencing on Wednesday 19th July.

"The programme, which we call 'The Wedding Wordshop', runs in the evening once a week for four weeks and costs just £97 per person," said Lynne, who is responsible for the wedding and celebration speech side of The Speaker's Friend. "It is very relaxed and fun but is also very productive".

The programme has limited places so that eveyone gets one-on-one time with the speech coach and takes people from scratch right through the whole creative process, including rehearsal and fine tuning.  This means that everyone comes out with their own speech, in their words, practiced and ready to give.

Lynne also pointed out that with the videoing of receptions, speechmakers will be keen to make sure that they do a great job, especially if it is going to be seen again and again and again!

13-05-06 President's Ball Goes To Plan B

After weeks of planning and developing his speech for the Rotherham Chamber of Commerce President's Charity Ball, John Wainwright (Chamber President) was actually lying in a hospital bed at the time his speech was due to be delivered.

Having been taken ill and ordered to rest a week before the event, everyone expected that John would be on his feet again within a couple of days.  However, when he was still laid up with three days to go it was time to switch to Plan B and send for Rob Hannan, MD of Sureguard Window Films and Chamber Vice-President.

Although a more experienced public speaker than John, Rob had virtually no time at all to prepare a suitable speech.  So, Paul Sykes of The Speaker's Friend quickly drew up an action plan making sure that the remaining hours were used to best effect in achieving Rob's objectives. 

With Rob writing the words, Paul preparing suitable projection images and various members of the Chamber staff (including the Chief Executive John Lewis) working away in the background, the speech was ready for final run through at 2:00 on the afternoon of the Ball.

The result was a very professional speech that, unless you had been told, you would have expected to have taken several weeks to produce.

Well done Rob!

27-04-06 BBC Radio Sheffield Broadcasts Live Interview With Paul Sykes

It was 8:14am and Wendy Middleton, presenter of the BBC Radio Sheffield Breakfast show confessed to feeling nervous about being in the presence of an expert in public speaking and presentations!

This was part of her introduction to a live interview with Principal Presentation Coach at The Speaker's Friend, Paul Sykes.  The chat lasted for just over 5 minutes and included the positive role that nerves can play in the build up to a presentation, as well as looking at Paul's "Head, Heart, Stomach & Feet" model for remembering the key tips for speaking in front of a group.

Head - Think about what your audience, think about the purpose of every aspect of the speech/presentation and be sure there is a purpose to it.

Heart - Speaking/presenting is a people thing, so connect with the listeners using feeling, passion, enthusiasm and emotion.

Stomach - You will probably be nervous, but use those nerves to your advantage, be excited, be positive, be focused and do your best.

Feet - Stance and body language are very important.  Standing still or not moving tends to make the speech less interesting, whilst wild or repetitive gestures can be very distractive.  Feel free to move and express yourself, but do it appropriately and with purpose.

To listen to a recording of the interview click here

14-04-06 Rotherham Advertiser Features The Speaker's Friend

After conducting a telephone interview and a photo shoot at the Moorgate Crofts Business Centre, the Rotherham Advertiser produced a half-page feature about The Speaker's Friend on page 22 of their w/e 14th April 2006 edition.

The piece showed a picture Paul and Lynne together and also listed a number of "Paul's Dos and Don'ts" about public speaking.

"This has been great exposure for us," said Paul Sykes, Principal Presentation Coach for The Speaker's Friend.  "We are delighted that the local press is ready and willing to support local business in this way.  It is another great reason for choosing to set up in Rotherham."

12-04-06 Raise Your Glasses Launched

Realising the uniqueness of the wedding market and the specific needs of speech-makers at wedding receptions, The Speaker's Friend has branded its services in this area as "Raise Your Glasses".

Lynne Sykes, who is running this side of the business explained "an awful lot of time and effort goes in to the planning and delivery of every last detail of a wedding; apart from the speeches that is!" 

"We know of best friends who have refused to be Best Man simply because of the fear of having to give the speech and brides' fathers who have not been able to eat at the reception for the same reason." she added.

The Raise Your Glasses Team is now ready and willing to help anyone who feel that they would benefit from having a professional work with them. A coach will help in every aspect of preparing the speeches; sifting the many ideas, providing flowing and natural structures, and supporting the speech-maker in rehearsal and delivery fine tuning.

10-03-06 Company Reveals Mission To Delight

The Speaker's Friend, the specialist Group Communications company, has today revealed its customer (known as "friends") mission statement:

We will show our friends in the best light possible by assisting them in the development and delivery of their messages to groups large or small.

We want to help them make the best use of the time they have available and improve the quality of their messages. With our experienced, flexible, accessible and friendly service, we aim to transform what is often a high-stress experience into one which is both enjoyable and rewarding.

Paul Sykes, founder of The Speaker's Friend, said that after informally coaching a number of professionals over the years, he was very excited by the opportunities facing the new business.

07-03-06 Early "Win"

The Speaker's Friend, the new specialist Group Communications company, presented itself today for the first time and got a surprise bonus thrown in!

Having joined Rotherham Chamber of Commerce last week, the business attended the Four Chambers Networking Breakfast Event held at Hellaby Hall Hotel, this morning.

Using a form of "speed dating" the business made its expected two minute presentation to three tables of between eight and nine people each, generating a good level of interest.

But the best was yet to come.  Just before the close, the founder's business card was pulled from the hat and Paul Sykes had the opportunity to do his two minute pitch all over again to the 150 people present.

"This was a great bonus for us," Paul said. "let's hope we have the same kind of good fortune as the business begins trading later this month!"