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Great Successful People - Interview With TV's Confidence Coach

Jan 28, 2008
Peter has a background in psychology and is one of the UK's leading confidence coaches. He teaches at the Bristol Old Vic, as well as regularly featuring in television programmes such as Faking It and Would Like To Meet. Over the last ten years Peter has pioneered the application of theatre and drama to the challenges of corporate life. This work includes communication skills, motivation, creativity and innovation as well as personal impact coaching.

This interview took place a couple of months ago, and as part of the Great Successful People Package, Peter provides a 45-minute much more revealing interview covering relationships, confidence building and redundancy.

Meanwhile, enjoy this:

Andrew Rondeau: Today I am interviewing speaker, actor and legendary coach, Peter Nicholas. Hi Peter, how are you?

Peter Nicholas: Great, fine.

Andrew: Peter, you have had great success and an enjoyable career, so far. You started as a freelance coach. Tell me more about that period of your life.

Peter: I was doing a lot of personal impact work with top managers. Managers in politics, actors and sports individuals. Personal impact being presentation and public speaking skills. Alongside this, I was running Personal Development Courses and working in the theatre, singing and acting. Plenty of Shakespeare, I thoroughly enjoyed running the courses in large organisations. About 6 years ago, I had a nightmare 6-month theatre tour which coincided with having our first child. I'd had enough of living out of a suitcase and decided to concentrate on personal impact training and personal development courses. Now I'm away 1 - 3 days a week and also have the ability to work from home. The work-life balance is very different now and much more rewarding.

Andrew: So becoming a father and living out of a suitcase for 6 months was a turning point for you?

Peter: Yes, absolutely.

Andrew: Any others?

Peter: Yes, about 5 years ago the TV programme 'Faking It' was advertising for an acting coach. I applied, along with 20 others. I had to pitch how I would build someone's confidence and confidence building is a fascination of mine. I won the contract and worked on several of the programmes.

Andrew: So why was that a turning point? What's happened since then?

Peter: I no longer have to knock on doors. People and companies knock on mine. I suddenly realised what I was great at. It was a re-branding exercise for me, from being an actor to trainer and facilitator.

I now have my own company, Threshold Communication. We design and run development workshops. I structure them to ensure they are interactive and full of learning. I love working with groups of people. Threshold Communications has expanded the offerings to include Change Management, Strategy and Diversity. Communications underpin everything else.

Andrew: So why move from freelance to running your own company, Threshold Communications?

Peter: My company partner James Brooke and I had worked together on and off for ten years and had a good working relationship; It was a perfect fit,. James has got great corporate experience. He is used to dealing with strategy and change management and has a economist background. With my coaching, and communications performing and creativity we get to explore ideas from different perspectives, it works well.

Andrew: So what sets Threshold Communications apart from the rest?

Peter: We ask the right questions, find out what's needed, design a blend of interactive sound business theory, psychology and theatre based dynamics to make the learning fun have lasting impact. And we do it better than others.

Andrew: What would individuals learn by attending your communications workshop?

Peter: They would get to

1. learn to take responsibility for all their communications.
2. Practice how they can adapt and connect to others better
3. Develop more impact through their natural communications style
4. build their confidence in order to go out and use the new tools and techniques learnt on the workshop.
5. Have fun whilst learning.

Andrew: How does your communications course fit with technology today?

Peter: Just throwing technology at people will not change communications . there has to be the will, confidence and integrity to commit to doing things differently. For instance , we cover more effective ways to use video conferencing. You can't just be there at the end of the camera. You have to be present and contribute. That's difficult via video conferencing. We show you how video conferencing should work. You can't just turn on the camera and use it like the telephone.

Andrew: So, Peter give us a few tips on how best to use video conferencing?

Peter: Know what is it for?

Then............

Only have the people there who need to be there,

Keep meetings really short, 30 minutes max.

Send out minimal pertinent prep work and make sure everyone comes prepared for the meeting ,

Speak in bullet points,

Double the listening ,

Speak to express not impress,

Everyone commits to being present and contributing rather than checking e. mails and writing shopping lists.

At any point you can ask some one else to summaries what has been said. That really focuses the group and gets them present.

Andrew: What other common communication failings do you come across and how could individuals overcome them?

Peter: Everyone can keep investigating how to improve their effectiveness form one conversation to the next; A real sense of integrity and purpose rather than ego or fear is a good starting point.

Andrew: Peter, you have enjoyed great success. How important has goal setting been to your overall success?

Peter: No goal no team.

No possibility for vision, motivation or action.

Andrew: What motivates you to do the work that you do?

Peter: I love working with people and teams and seeing the work we do make a difference.

Andrew: What attributes do you believe make a successful leader?

Peter: How long have we got? Attributes include;

A clear here to there, ability to know your strengths and play to them . Being able to learn from mistakes and move on quickly. Clear decision making. Become your own best business coach and a very supportive family

Andrew: How is Personal Development different now, as opposed to when you started out in business?

Peter: It is a little more rigorous and seen much less as a therapy where there is a lot of navel gazing over the past. It acknowledges the past then focuses more on taking responsibility for the now and creating the future as you want it.

Andrew: How do you see Personal Development / Leadership changing over the next 5 years?

Peter: More and more people will have their own business coach and be changing careers more frequently.

Andrew: If you could recommend one book that all aspiring leaders should read, what would it be?

Peter: Reinventing your life by Young and Klosko.

Andrew: So, we have heard a little bit of your background and what you are doing today. What does the future hold for you?

Peter: We are developing leadership development programs in several international companies and Threshold is developing coaching and personal impact wings ....and starting to publish all the good stuff we do.

Andrew: Are there any other thoughts, insights or advice for aspiring leaders that you would like to share?

Peter: Yes - get really interested in whoever you are working with. Don't put anyone down . Be the change you want to see, get being present and ooze integrity.

Andrew: Thank you, Peter. I appreciate the time to complete this interview.

Peter: I hope it's useful. Best wishes.
About the Author
Andrew has built an online community to eliminate the loneliness and fear of being a manager. Andrew's latest product, the Great Successful People Package is over 12 hours of audio interviews with successful individuals. (Note: all profits from the product will be donated to a Breast Cancer Charity).
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