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london olympics 2012
bob diamond
barclays bank
asking effective questions
shambles
Nick Buckles G4s - An Example Of How Not To Present In Public
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Nick Buckles G4s  -  An Example Of How Not to Present In Public

A few weeks ago when Bob Diamond the former Chief Executive of Barclays Bank appeared in front of a Select Committee to explain what he did or did not know about the rigging of Libor rates by a small number of Barclays staff, I wrote at the time that whoever replaced him should definitely have some substantial media training in order to ensure that he didn’t cause the bank further damage by poor public appearances. Now we have another Chief Executive equally unprepared for his moment in the spotlight. Nick Buckles the Cheif Executive of G4S appeared in front of another Select Committee today giving a truly lamentable performance as he tried to explain why his company would not able to fulfil their contract to provide security staff at the London Olympics 2012.

Although news outlets including the BBC and Sky and various commentators have suggested that Mr Buckles was given a mauling by the MPs, having watched the painful 90 minutes I thought they actually let him off incredibly lightly and didn’t question him with the forensic type of detail that I as a member of the public would have liked to see.

I really don’t care whether Buckles thinks he’s the right person for the job or not (a question asked by the Committee Chairman, Keith Vaz ) because he obviously does or he would have already resigned. What I wanted to be given was more detail. When Buckles said that they still didn’t know more than 48 hours in advance whether they have the staff to schedule events – I wanted someone just to ask why? No one did. Infact so many of their questions were far too long and were more aimed at showing themselves in a good light or making him look a fool rather than asking effective questions and getting clear facts from a man who has presided over what most people see as a complete shambles.

However, it wasn't the poor questioning of the MPs that interested me most but the very basic mistakes that a man who’s reportedly on a salary of 1.2 million pounds (1.9 million dollars) made in presenting in public. It clearly doesn’t come naturally to him, but he must be used to doing it and yet it was surprising just to see how awful he was. There were 4 particular areas that stood out for me.

1. Poor voice projection

No one can help being softly spoken but if you are going to present in public in a building which even the MPs admit doesn’t have the best of acoustics then it’s something you have to practice. He had to be asked to speak up but throughout he was so softly spoken that it only added to the idea fairly or unfairly that he’s weak.

2. Poor prepartion

Buckles was unable to answer some of the most basic questions and provide up to date figures on the current situation in their recruitment drive. I can’t imagine that he would ever turn up to a shareholders meeting with so little information at his fingertips, but if he does shame on the shareholders for letting him get away with it.

3. No counter attack mounted

Buckles did nothing to mount any sort of robust counter attack to the MPs questions and criticisms. He clearly hadn’t prepared any sort of defence and yet anyone who has ever presented in public – if there’s an opportunity for members of the audience to ask questions you need to be able to defend your position. This was a basic mistake and unworthy of someone who is head of an organisation with over 600,000 staff worldwide.

4. Poor communication and non verbal communication skills

Buckles did actually smile twice during the committee meeting once when he made a mistake in a reply (which was genuinely funny) and suggested that normally 10% of their staff turned up to events when he meant to say 90% and once when he misheard something he was asked. However, his communication skills were poor because he was so robotic.

Whether he was saying that he was ‘deeply sorry’ or giving explanation his demeanour and tone of voice remained unchanged. Some commentators said he looked tired, but I beg to disagree. His non-verbal communication gave the impression that he was unmoved by the proceedings and only accepted the MPs criticism because it was the easiest thing to do.

At the end of the day the MPs and I suspect many members of the public were left thoroughly underwhelmed by this dismal performance.

Iif you find yourself in the position of having to present in public there are some great lessons to be learnt from the hapless Nick Buckles who I suspect in the future might be the ex Chief Executive of G4S on how not to do it.


Street Talk

Sounds like another big mistake here. Good public speaking skills are a must at this level, ands really at any level. thanks Beverley for writing this.

Reply
  about 1 decade ago
  

Thanks Shawn. I'm one of those people who cringe when public figures speak so badly. This one really was a classic example of how not to do it.

Reply
  about 1 decade ago

I also watched this performance - that's all I can call it - and was absolutely amazed as you were. As a person who has had to make presentations to Boards and Committees myself there is no doubt that you need to be prepared to the Nth degree, and Mr Buckles simply was not. From a Project Management perspective it is clear that G4S did not have an effective risk analysis procedure within their planning and monitoring company policy or if they did have them they were woefully inadequate. I agree with your 4 points and must say that this situation would be a clear candidate for being taught as a case study to people how not to present yourself, regards, Hudson

Reply
  about 1 decade ago
  

Hi Hudson Thanks for taking the time to comment. It truly was awful but as you say he will make a great case study for presentation training. I have no doubt in the future he'll also be used as a case study of poor management. The press are giving him a well deserved pounding today.

Reply
  about 1 decade ago

I have always been good in speaking in public and with clients, its also about having confidence in what your speaking about I would think.

Reply
  about 1 decade ago
  

I agree with you David. Confidence in what you're saying obviously makes it easier when having to speak in public and in this case he really didn't.

Reply
  about 1 decade ago
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