How to prepare for your Big Event

August 31, 2013 7 comments

As many of you know I recently launched my first book ‘Essential Career Transition Coaching Skills’.  It was certainly a huge achievement for me with many months of hard work and negotiating the mysteries of the publishing world.  It was an occasion that needed celebrating!  Ah, a ‘Launch Event’ was called for!…….but what on earth do you do at a launch event….????

Book launch talk

My book launch talk

Anyway, I thought this had many parallels with conferences and other events that you might be called upon to stage so decided to share my tips for what was declared an inspiring and informative evening, just what you might be aiming for.

Tip no. 1 – Be true to yourself. So what do you do at an event like this? my answer was “Anything I like as it’s MY event!”  I certainly wanted to draw on ideas from other similar occasions but the important thing was for it to be how I wanted it and not to be trying to please a myriad of people with potentially conflicting ideas.

Tip No. 2 – Decide what experience you want your participants, your audience, to have.  Work out what you want them to know, feel and do.  I very much wanted mine to be a celebration and, not being much of a ‘sales person’ laughed when my friend Catherine said “How you want them to feel? well, presumably… generous!”  It was also to help promote my book after all!

Tip No. 3 – Work with like-minded people. I interviewed some fantastic people for my book and I wanted them to be part of the evening.  So I invited four of them to come along and give a short talk.  A great opportunity for them to showcase themselves, their achievements and their businesses as well – and a great support network of people working with me to make it a success and share the responsibility.

This also extended to my choice of venue – apart from being a beautiful place the guys running the show were a perfect combination of efficiency and easy to work with, tuning in immediately to the sort of experience I wanted everyone to have.

And don’t feel you can and should do everything.  Accept help for things that don’t absolutely need you to do them.

Speakers: Angela Watson, Andy Britnell, Deni Lyall

Speakers: Angela Watson, Andy Britnell, Deni Lyall

Tip No 4.  Build the event around the things you know you want to do.  Don’t sweat about thinking you have to design the perfect event through from start to finish.  Slot in the things you are certain about and build in others as you think of them.  Start gathering ideas as early as you can and noting them down and then you can fit it all together, discarding or adding as you refine it down.  Once you have your event in mind your attention will be drawn to ideas that you can use.

Tip No 5.  Enjoy yourself!  This is absolutely the most important thing.  Set an intention to enjoy yourself.  What is it all for if you’re not going to enjoy it?  Set everything in place,  rehearse your own ‘speech’, run through everything with your team and in your own mind – then tell yourself you have done all you can, what will be will be – and now’s the time to let go and trust that, to paraphrase Susan Jeffers, ‘It will all happen perfectly’.

Of course there were small glitches (and at some points potentially quite large ones!) But most people have no idea of the detail of what’s going to happen anyway and I just had to trust that everything else would be fine and that it was set up to succeed.   You can see on this page some wonderful pictures of the event, courtesy of my photographer (and husband) Ian Talbott.

And if you are interested in career transitions or coaching, or both, you can buy the book at It already has two 5* reviews!

Do share your own ideas here for organising a successful event of any kind – I look forward to hearing from you.

Music makers: Lyndsey and Stash Huchrak

Music makers: Lyndsey and Stash Huchrak

Categories: Challenges, Leadership

Being resilient – 5 more tips

April 5, 2013 1 comment

So here are the other 5 tips I promised you last week, I do hope the others have been proving useful:

Jumping1. Make time for yourself

Do things you love doing, including exercise, hobbies, even a relaxing bath.

2. Make gratitude and appreciation a habit

It may sound corny but take time to appreciate what you have and to be grateful for.  Even make a daily practice of writing down everything you have to be grateful for.  This was one of Susan Jeffers’ tips in ‘End the Struggle and Dance with Life’

3. Keep things in proportion

Sometimes it’s easy to over react and fly into a panic when things go wrong.  Take a deep breath, step back and think rationally before speaking or reacting.  Most things can be sorted out by thinking first and then reacting, rather than the other way round – which may even make things worse.  Mostly when things ‘go wrong’ or don’t go as you expect it’s just a step in the process to getting to an acceptable option.

4. Know what you can change and what you can’t

Develop the serenity to accept the things you cannot change, the courage to change the things you can and the wisdom to know the difference.  (Reinhold Niebuhr)   There is no point in sweating about trying to change things you can’t do anything about.

5. There is no failure only feedback and learning

You can choose to believe this. It’s what’s called a ‘belief of excellence’ in NLP.  Thomas Edison said that he had not failed 10,000 times (or was it 1000, 700 or maybe 5000?) but had just found 10,000 ways that didn’t work!  There’s always something you can learn when things don’t turn out as you intended and very rarely is it the end of the line – it’s just time to change tactics, try a different approach.  AND you’ll do it better next time.

 So what are your tips? do share what works for you, keeping strong and able to ‘dance with life’.

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Picture: © iko –

Increase your resilience – 10 top tips

Wow, what a long time it is since I posted on this blog!  The reasons do have something to do with resilience in that all sorts of challenges have been going on in my life and those of my nearest and dearest so I decided to take my own advice – know what is REALLY important and absolutely must have my attention and let go, for a while, of other things I want to do but just don’t have the capacity for at the moment.  Let go, and not beat myself up about it.

Anyway, that got me thinking.  A good topic for a blog post. We live in a fast paced, complex, chaotic world with multiple demands on us and we all need to be resilient to cope with what life throws at us.  Some people are naturally more resilient than others but there are strategies we can use to strengthen our ability to cope and thrive, even in the most difficult of circumstances.  And I thought this quote summed up the positive message beautifully:

 Life’s not about waiting for the storm to pass, it’s about learning to dance in the rain. ©Vivian Greene

So here are my top 10 tips – the first 5 are here – come back for the rest next week.  And do share yours.Young woman and man dancing in the rain under umbrella

1. Work at it!

Being resilient doesn’t happen by accident – it needs working at!

2. Notice and change your thinking

Your thoughts stimulate your emotions, which in turn drive your behaviour.  We all have that little gremlin that tells us we are not good enough, that we have messed up etc.  Catch yourself and you can change that thought process into something positive. I have a simple but brilliant ‘tool’ for doing this – if you’d like a copy please email me at

You get what you focus on – if you think everything is awful you’ll find plenty of things to reinforce that view.  Look for the positive and you’ll find that too.  Focus on what you want, not what you don’t want.

3. Spend time with people who energise you

Develop your network of people who buoy you up and make you feel strong and happy. Don’t join in with the ‘pity party’ goers and be dragged down by negative energy.

4. Understand that change is a process

When something changes in your life recognise that it takes time to adapt psychologically and physically. Dr Elisabeth Kübler-Ross identified a series of emotions we need to work through, especially when the change is negative.  It’s natural to feel denial, anger, bargaining, depression and finally acceptance.   Give yourself permission to feel sad, angry etc yet also recognise when you need to move on from this.

5. Breathing exercises or meditation

As part of your routine, especially when you have a lot on your plate, take time to sit quietly and breath in and out deeply a few times, or to meditate.

I hope those are helpful to you and look forward to hearing your ideas as well.  Do post your thoughts below.

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Picture: © tinica10 –

Fed up with feedback?

Feedback? what comes to mind when you hear that word? BOHICA? Bend Over Here it Comes Again!?  In many organisations feedback is just a moderately polite way of beating someone up, or a way of making you feel you have ‘done your job’ and ‘sorted someone out’ – as you SHOULD as a manager.  But it doesn’t have to be like that……

This blog post was inspired by Sarah Williams and Lis Geake and their comments on my last posting about ‘yes but…’

Lis’s very precise take on feedback (I’m choosing my words carefully here as I know she’ll be checking this!) “It would be a lot easier to avoid ‘yes but’ if people giving praise focused on specifics. “You did great work” isn’t half as much use as “The errors you corrected in my presentation have saved me a lot of time and saved my blushes”. It’s much harder to say ‘but’ after specific praise, which pops up in childcare books but is just as worth doing for adults. Should I be bold and share this thought on Caroline’s blog? Maybe, but…”

Apart from being making me laugh, she’s right of course!specific feedback

Some key tips for giving feedback:

  • be sincere – if people detect you don’t mean it they will lose trust in you
  • know why you are giving it – do you genuinely intend it to help them improve their performance or boost their morale, or just to cover your back?
  • adopt the ‘Dutch’ belief about feedback – how can someone act on something if they don’t know about it?  rather than the British approach that it’s either  i) a cruel and heartless thing to do and should only be used in extremis (if negative) or  ii) a very unBritish expression of emotion and they should just know I think it’s good (when positive)
  • a useful formula for being specific is ‘AID’ – what was the ACTION, what was the IMPACT, what could they DO more of/do differently or DEVELOP

What are your top tips for effective feedback? share your thoughts here or on my Facebook page: CarolineTalbottLtd Facebook

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© andrewgenn –

The tyranny of “yes but…”

Are you a victim of the tyranny of “Yes but…..”

I’ve known a few people in my time who have been unable to just take a positive and be happy with it, enjoy it, savour it.  I had one friend who was even known as Jack ‘yeah but’ Thompson (name changed to protect the innocent).  His behaviour was a real energy drainer to both himself and those around him – if you said “That was a great piece of work Jack”  the response was “Yeah but…”, “It’s great that you’ve got the opportunity to work on that project Jack” – “Yeah but….”

So once again, ‘catching yourself’ is the secret – do you do this to yourself or to your team and colleagues?  One manager I worked for in my early days used to say “excellent draft!  now let’s see how we can improve it!”  Some people (and this used to include me),  when asked if they can do something,  start with all the difficulties they can think of or by diminishing what they can do rather than “Yes”.

If someone pays you a compliment – just say “thank you”

When someone brings you a piece of work – do you really need to put your stamp on it and ‘improve’ it?

If someone says things are going well – just enjoy the sensation….

Listen to yourself, and stop before you speak if that ‘b’ word is going to pop out – and notice how much better things seem when you’re not always looking for what’s wrong with them!

What do you think? or would you like to comment but.……..

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Photo: © alphaspirit –

It’s the relationship, stupid!

April 13, 2012 2 comments

With apologies for the bowdlerisation of the 1992 US Presidential campaign’s famous “It’s the economy, stupid!”

Working recently with a whole team of new people and in a culture that puts a huge store on relationships I was strongly reminded of the need to get the right balance of task, process and relationships.

What do I mean? well when you are up against a deadline it’s very easy to focus on task, task, task!  “We just need to get the job done”.

But I was reminded that sometimes you just need to sit back and think about what the people involved need to help them succeed.  Picture the scene……

As I sat in the umpteenth meeting room, all alone, waiting for everyone else to turn up, feeling impatient to get on, I started to see things in a different light ……… my facetious side thought “Just abandon all hope of getting this done quickly”, my insightful side reflected “Use this valuable thinking time to work out a better strategy” – then the two came together: to quote one of my favourite sayings ‘What’s the definition of madness?’  “Keep doing the same thing and expecting a different result”.

That’s when I remembered what I’d forgotten.

In any (business) endeavour you need to work on 3 aspects – task, process and relationships.  You need to focus on whatever the task may be and ensure it gets done – but to do that you also need process – a means of getting there, and people or relationships to get it done.  And you must be constantly reviewing and rebalancing these to get the best possible progress and outcomes.  Concentrate only on task and people will feel bruised, misunderstood, demotivated…. take care only of the people and nothing gets done.  Without some process you don’t have a way of achieving anything.

So I just sat back: one by one they came in…we chatted, we got to know each other.  We put everything on the table and talked it through.  In no time we were all throwing in ideas, feeding off each other’s creativity – having great fun, enjoying each other’s company – and most importantly, making decisions and agreeing a way forward.

That’s what makes business work….  How’s your balance?

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Photo: © javier brosch –

Confidence – if they’re right, I must be wrong

March 15, 2012 2 comments

Well, first an apology for the radio silence – rather ironic after my last post about getting focused!  I guess my focus changed – firstly to a fabulous holiday in Tanzania and then to getting here for work – Botswana!

No matter where you are in the world, or life, this may be you:

One of the things I’ve found knocks my confidence and makes me feel inadequate is seeing a colleague doing a tremendous job.  Strange, given you would think it would be a great learning opportunity.  It led me to use the powerful technique of Cognitive Behavioural Coaching (CBC) on myself – with thanks to Gladeana McMahon, one of the pioneers of this development on the better known Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT).

What thoughts were triggering that emotion and how could I turn those from negative into positive thoughts and emotions? Replace “If that’s what good looks like, I must be doing it wrong.  I feel so useless”  with “Wow, that’s a great approach. How well it works for him.  How different to my way, which works well too.  Anything I could learn from his repertoire? And when does my way actually work better?”

Confidence - if they're right I must be wrongOne example is a couple of management trainers I work with who must be the greatest showmen on earth.  How could I match them?  Until someone pointed out to me that relentless joking can be very wearing, especially for introverts, and not everyone appreciates it.  Many people like something more considered and reflective.

So my colleagues are not totally right and neither am I totally wrong – or right.

Just appreciate the differences, learn from both and use what works for the diverse people you have contact with every day.

What knocks your confidence, and what do you do about it?  do post a comment and share your thoughts.

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Photo: © Olga Barbakadze –