Things are getting interesting


by Sunny
13th November, 2006 at 6:46 pm    

You heard it here first. Though I can’t be too specific what “it” is… erm, yet. Next week will be a big week for the reasons why Pickled Politics was launched and something I’ve been working on with many other talented and intelligent people.

On 17th and 18th Nov (coming Friday and Saturday), Goodenough College is hosting a debate on “multi-culturalism”. The full flyer is here (PDF). You will notice that on Saturday afternoon, on the last panel, I’m scheduled to speak. I am generally not a great speaker but my aim will be to lay out the future of race-relations, multi-culturalism and modern Britain. The timing is perfect because next week we will be launching a big debate on the same issue.

I wish I could say more but until everything is finalised I don’t want to show my cards. On top of that I have a big article to write for the Media Guardian so I’m absolutely snowed under with work. Blogging will be a bit light this week I’m afraid.


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  1. Jai — on 13th November, 2006 at 7:18 pm  

    Sunny,

    Very best of luck for your impending debate. Onwards & upwards, eh.

    =>”I am generally not a great speaker”

    Some friendly advice, based on your recent interview on Sky News and also based on my own professional experiences in this area:

    1. Speak slowly & clearly. Not too slowly — some people can get away with it, but you don’t want to go too far — but talking too quickly, especially under stressful conditions, is something many Asians in particular often do. I’ve been guilty of it myself in the past — I tend to think extremely quickly, and under “formal conditions” this has sometimes translated into simultaneously talking too rapidly as well if I haven’t made a conscious effort to “get a grip”. Slowing down in these situations is a learned habit, and one which fortunately becomes automatic with enough practice. You can actually train yourself to become increasingly calm and focused the more the tension in a situation increases — it sounds paradoxical at first, but trust me, it works.

    “Think quickly, speak slowly” is an excellent habit to acquire.

    2. Always pause for a second or two (or longer, if necessary) when you are about to answer a question from the audience or the interviewer. (Beware of falling into the trap of “saying something, anything”, just to fill in the “dead air”.) It gives your subconscious a chance to process what you’re about to say (which stops us blurting things out), and it also helps to calm you down a bit beforehand. A side-benefit is the fact that it makes your answers look more measured and considered from the perspective of the audience (but they should be that way already !).

    3. Keep a close eye on the tone of your voice as the discussion progresses. When you’re “in the floodlights”, with all eyes focused on you, sometimes you can feel the tension ratcheting up and your voice getting higher, along with the speed of your speech increasing. Consciously calm yourself right down — making a deliberate effort to slow down your speech helps tremendously — and breathe deeply. The latter will bring your blood pressure back down, and it’s also something you should discreetly be doing while the audience/interviewer is talking to you.

    4. Have you noticed how George Clooney and Amitabh Bachchan speak when they’re either being interviewed or are giving some kind of speech themselves ? They’re superb role models to adopt in this matter — they’re obviously highly intelligent and very quick thinkers, but they always keep their voices low, firm, and controlled (which also helps you to sound more authoritative).

    5. If you’re serious about becoming some kind of public figure in the media, it may help you to get some professional voice coaching (like actors and American politicians do, for example) along with investing in some professional training for presentation skills (if you haven’t done so already). Expensive, but worth it in the long-run. Gravitas and credibility are both very important. As the cliche goes, what often matters isn’t just what you say, but how you say it.

    Anyway, these are just some objective thoughts so I hope this helps. (As I said, interviewing people & giving presentations are part of my own professional background, and I’ve received formal professional training in these areas too), It’s just what in my line of work is called “360-degree feedback” ;)

    All the best for Friday & Saturday once again.

  2. raz — on 13th November, 2006 at 8:14 pm  

    Good points Jai, oh and SHAVE OFF THE GOATEE!!!!

  3. Sunny — on 13th November, 2006 at 8:38 pm  

    Boys. You may give me tips on better public speaking but you will never take away my goatee. Freeeeeedom!!!

  4. Soozy — on 13th November, 2006 at 8:40 pm  

    Keep the goatee.

  5. Dave Hill — on 13th November, 2006 at 9:42 pm  

    So you can’t be in three places all at once? Clearly, you’re not up to the job.

  6. Douglas Clark — on 13th November, 2006 at 9:46 pm  

    Sunny,

    Could your hidden card, your Ace of Spades, be a t***k t**k? Eh!

    Woodward and Bernstein look out!

    What you have had to say about race issues in the UK,
    has been absolutely right. And not static, but a developing agenda. You have, single handedly, – (sorry Katy, Rohan , Jai, but this is a bit of a hagiography) – built a different base. And you have listened to people you could have written off as
    enemies. You did not do that, you have listened to what they had to say. And synthesised it.

    It is clearly time for the Asian community, for all it fractiousness, to stand up and be honest. It looks, much as some elements of white society look, to prejudice, to old ideas of what is right. These are worn out concepts that only trap younger people into an older generations deceits.

    Goodenough College, (crazy name, crazy concept!) Y’know, we want to rule the world through our alumini, but we’re just ‘good enough’? What is it Mr Simpson says again…..

    Give ‘em hell. “I love the smell of cammomile in the morning”.

  7. Soozy — on 13th November, 2006 at 10:00 pm  

    It is clearly time for the Asian community, for all it fractiousness, to stand up and be honest. It looks, much as some elements of white society look, to prejudice, to old ideas of what is right.

    Gee thanks for the advice.

    Note, ‘the Asian community’ is described as ‘it’, spoken of as one, without difference, nuance or caveat, whereas ‘white society’ is afforded the humanity of being differentiated enough by only ‘some elements’ of it looking to ‘prejudice, to old ideas of what is right’ (whereas ‘All’ Asians are guilty of that)

    Tell me Douglas, is it an ‘old idea’ to speak of two million people as a single molecular amoeba-like globule and structure?

    ‘We’ are differentiated, only ‘some elements’ of ‘us’ are prejudiced.

    ‘They’ are unitary, undifferentiated, and are all guilty of said crime, not ‘some elements’, but ‘all elements’, and must all stand up.

    I’m sure your heart is in the right place, but unfortunately you have not freed your tongue from certain clumsy associations and generalisations.

    Dont get angry with me for pointing this out. It is important to say what you mean. And if you mean what you said, then fine, but I would suggest, you still havent extracted yourself from ‘some elements’ who are full of ‘older generations deceits’.

    Do you get what I am saying?

  8. Clairwil — on 13th November, 2006 at 10:05 pm  

    ‘but talking too quickly, especially under stressful conditions, is something many Asians in particular often do’

    The question that then arises is are Asians a lost Scottish clan or are Scots a lost Asian one?

    Having heard myself on recordings after speaking at very small gatherings I’d echo all of Jai’s tips. I would also add don’t be afraid of saying too little, especially in a forum where people have the opportunity to ask you to clarify or expand on certain points. Very basic notes are good idea, though I’d emphasise basic. If people are interested they can read further on points you’ve raised. However jotting down a few headings relating to points that may come up won’t do any harm.

    Best of luck, old bean.

    P.S Keep the goatee, from a female perspective I can see a major plus point to it, though that might be a bit racy for a Monday night.

  9. Soozy — on 13th November, 2006 at 10:10 pm  

    Yes Clairwil I have to say that Jai’s singling out many Asians for their deficiencies in public speaking had me scratching my head too. Although I do think Jais advice is excellent. And I agree he should keep the goatee, it is attractive.

  10. El Cid — on 13th November, 2006 at 10:11 pm  

    Actually, I got rid of my goatee six months ago.
    I must say, you make me laugh sometimes Jai….. I won’t say why.
    But, yes, good tips.
    However, Not sure why you think Asians in particular talk too quickly under stressful conditions (*rolls eyes deep into skull*)

    I tell you who is a good speaking role model: Harry from Spooks. And there’s my link to a previous thread: what a great last episode. Top entertainment (suspend the politics and the disbelief and just enjoy a bit of gritty drama on a dreary Monday).

  11. Soozy — on 13th November, 2006 at 10:16 pm  

    Just relax and be yourself Sunny. I have always found that the first minute or so of the talk is stressful then somehow it all comes together naturally, and your subconscious takes over. Treat it like a conversation, and look a few people in the eye when you look into the crowd, and you’ll be fine.

  12. Clairwil — on 13th November, 2006 at 10:24 pm  

    ‘However, Not sure why you think Asians in particular talk too quickly under stressful conditions (*rolls eyes deep into skull*)’

    I remember chatting to an English Pakistani guy at a wedding many years ago who was utterly bewildered by the speed and tone of the Scottish Pakistani dialogue. I think I was the only person under 30 the poor sod could understand in English.

  13. Anas — on 13th November, 2006 at 10:33 pm  

    That’s funny, Clar, cause when I go to England most of my relatives don’t even notice my accent.

  14. El Cid — on 13th November, 2006 at 10:38 pm  

    Funny enough, Castillian Spanish as some of you may already know is machine gun fast to the uninitiated. But I think that is because it is very phonetic (the most phonetic language I know) and rolls of the tongue easily (for some of us).
    So Anas, do you speak like Rob C Nasbettji

  15. Clairwil — on 13th November, 2006 at 10:47 pm  

    Anas,
    My English relatives don’t notice my accent either, but virtually every other English person I meet is bewildered by it. Until I call them a cunt when they suddenly understand everything I am saying. Ah the universal language of sweary words!

  16. Douglas Clark — on 13th November, 2006 at 10:59 pm  

    Soozy,

    That was so, oh I don’t know, intellectually superior that it got right up my nose:

    I say:

    “It is clearly time for the Asian community, for all it fractiousness, to stand up and be honest. It looks, much as some elements of white society look, to prejudice, to old ideas of what is right.”

    You say:

    “Gee thanks for the advice.”

    I say:

    “You are very welcome, and you need that advice, from a friend. Not an enemy.”

    Then you say:

    “Note, ‘the Asian community’ is described as ‘it’, spoken of as one, without difference, nuance or caveat, whereas ‘white society’ is afforded the humanity of being differentiated enough by only ’some elements’ of it looking to ‘prejudice, to old ideas of what is right’ (whereas ‘All’ Asians are guilty of that)

    Tell me Douglas, is it an ‘old idea’ to speak of two million people as a single molecular amoeba-like globule and structure?”

    And I say:

    Whilst I am quite scared of Al Quaida, I am probably more scared of point scoring grammarians. You pull me up for an it. How pathetic can you get? Would you prefer a correction? I meant to write it’s, as in it’s fractiousness, however you were on my case. It and it’s are two separate words and I made a mistake. Wow! I feel guilt now. Not.

    I now know not whether you just made this up or you thought you were quoting me, or what:

    You posted:

    “‘We’ are differentiated, only ’some elements’ of ‘us’ are prejudiced.”

    I thought that this was the whole point. In an earlier thread here, I’ve tried to make the point that bad people seem to be shared pretty equally around all races, all religions, no group can actually claim perfection.

    You say:

    “‘We’ are differentiated, only ’some elements’ of ‘us’ are prejudiced.”

    Obviously. What is difficult about that. And it is your own point.

    You say, again:

    “They’ are unitary, undifferentiated, and are all guilty of said crime, not ’some elements’, but ‘all elements’, and must all stand up.”

    Obviously, again. And again, what is difficult about that? Any group must stand up against prejudice within its ranks. I’d have thought that was self evident.

    I think you are assuming that the first statement would apply to Muslims and the scecond to the rest of us. Try reversing it. Try turning it upside down. Any way you cut it, I have no issue with it. There are bad people and there are good people and religion is not a
    marker for who you’d want as your next door neighbour.

    As a learned grammarian, you probably think you are in a position to tell me what I think, or that what I say is not quite PC. You may be right, but I am what I say I am.

    No offense mate, perhaps it is you that is too tied to the older generations certainties?

    Cheers

  17. Douglas Clark — on 13th November, 2006 at 11:05 pm  

    Clairwil,

    No doubt I’ll get hunted by someone for this, but I was introduced to a Pakistani lassie who had a broad Fife accent. It took me five minutes to tune in!

  18. Clairwil — on 13th November, 2006 at 11:13 pm  

    I think you always notice the ‘alien’ bit of an accent for want of a better word. I have an English friend who’s family laugh at her broad Glasgow accent. To me she sounds Mancunian and nothing else.

    The Kingdom of Fife is another world entirely, hurl any other accent into the mix and the mind boggles.

  19. Anas — on 13th November, 2006 at 11:46 pm  

    Sadly I don’t sound much like Rab C — I suppose you’d need to drink quite heavily to get the required effect.

    Unfortunately, and this admission will dent my credibilty as a Glaswegian, I often walk past people in the street on their mobiles or holding forth to others, and from overhearing them talking I’ll assume they’re from Poland and speaking in some dialect of Polish or from elsewhere in Eastern Europe. It takes me a few seconds to realise that they’re actually just speaking in incredibly broad Glaswegian accents — and I’ve lived here the majority of my life.

  20. Katy — on 13th November, 2006 at 11:50 pm  

    something I’ve been working on with many other talented and intelligent people

    But I know nothing about it…

    … oh.

    So that’s how it is. I see.

  21. Soozy — on 13th November, 2006 at 11:58 pm  

    Douglas I am sorry to get up your nose. I was not making a pedantic grammatical point — I was making a substantial point about the underlying assumptions in your choice of words. Nothing whatsoever to do with your using an apostrophe or not. If you cannot be bothered to try to understand it I can only say that I cannot make the horse drink the water.

    By the way, I am neither Muslim nor a man — I am a British-Indian woman of mixed Sikh and Hindu background. So your last line is of course, wrong, as well as the assumptions you made about my background. Nevertheless I forgive you for them.

  22. Clairwil — on 14th November, 2006 at 12:00 am  

    something I’ve been working on with many other talented and intelligent people

    But I know nothing about it…

    … oh.

    So that’s how it is. I see.

    Well I’ve been excluded from being a ruler of this blog and now this. You can imagine how I feel. At least you’re slightly accepted.

  23. Katy — on 14th November, 2006 at 12:45 am  

    At least you’re slightly accepted

    Dammit that is not enough for me. I want it all. Clairwil, let’s run away together and form our own site. We shall call it Pockled Pilitics, and it shall reign supreme.

  24. Clairwil — on 14th November, 2006 at 12:47 am  

    ‘Dammit that is not enough for me. I want it all. Clairwil, let’s run away together and form our own site. We shall call it Pockled Pilitics, and it shall reign supreme.’

    Yes and Sunny shall be our bitch. Ha ha ha.

  25. Sunny — on 14th November, 2006 at 2:07 am  

    Yes and Sunny shall be our bitch. Ha ha ha.

    Great. Just great. I look away for a few minutes and already my downfall is being planned. Don’t think I’m unwise to all this plotting! What you don’t realise Clairwil, is that Katy is easily bribed you see. Your escapades are doomed to fail. Muah ha ha!

    Douglas, thanks and yes. You got it in one.

    Dave – You got me :(

    Jai – thanks, I’m going to practice that. Or just drink a shot of whisky before, that always calms the nerves. Heh.

  26. Douglas Clark — on 14th November, 2006 at 7:31 am  

    Soozy,

    Apologies for being me. I can’t help it ;) .

  27. Kismet Hardy — on 14th November, 2006 at 10:15 am  

    “something I’ve been working on with many other talented and intelligent people”

    Send me the invitation again. Damn postman

  28. Katy — on 14th November, 2006 at 7:12 pm  

    What you don’t realise Clairwil, is that Katy is easily bribed you see.

    Ooh. How much are you offering?

  29. William — on 15th November, 2006 at 12:14 am  

    That looks like a really interesting conference Sunny. Good luck, I’m sure you’ll be fine.

  30. Electro — on 16th November, 2006 at 9:15 pm  

    Tariq Ramadan?

    There’s a wonderful little french tome called “Frere Tariq” in which the author exposes this slimeball as a complete fraud.

    She had cited excerpts of his cassettes that he distributes to young Muslim on the continent, excerpts that stand in stark contrast to his “official” public statements.

    To the extent multiculturalism aids the islamist case, Tariq is sure to wax poetic.

    Be prepared to hear the complete grab-bag of progressive buzz-words as his performance kicks into high-gear. He’ll have all the ageing leftists swooning and hyperventilating like girls at an Elvis concert.

    And good luck to you, Sunny! Drop a few ORIGINAL buzz-words, will ya!

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