No More Sitting On The ‘Reserve bench’

If you follow me on facebook, twitter, even instagram, you might have seen the occasional picture of me, grinning like a maniac, in front of an audience of similarly manic, arm-waving, happy folk (although usually there’s one lone woman, sitting there , arms folded, steadfastly refusing to take part – bless her).

I take these photos perhaps once or twice a week – whenever I’m asked to entertain a Women’s Institute, or a U3A, or a Townswomen Guild, or some similar group, with tales of my writing adventures.

People sometimes ask me how I got into the public speaking lark. I blame my Dad.

Years ago, my father used to run a U3A ‘discussion group’. Each month the group would invite someone along to speak on whatever topic they liked, and then afterwards a discussion would ensue. That was the idea anyway. My Dad loves a good discussion. In reality someone would put the kettle on, a packet of biscuits would be emptied onto a plate, and twenty minutes later my Dad would be washing cups and stacking chairs in the corner, wondering why no-one had actually ‘discussed’ anything.

Dad used to try and plan his group’s programme a good year in advance, presumably in the hopes of attracting a few new members with his trove of twelve tantalising topics. But a year is a long time. Stuff happens. And every now and then a speaker would cancel on dear old Dad, and he’d be forced to do some frantic phoning around in order to find a replacement.

Which is how I got my first gig.

Out of sheer desperation Dad called me and asked if I could step in and do a talk. He’d even decided what my topic would be! Could I speak for thirty or so minutes of “how banks make their money” – thanks very much – see you Thursday – don’t be late.

Now fortunately for me, I had at this point been in credit card banking for about twenty five years, the last ten of which was as a freelance consultant. I could have spoken for several days on how my clients separated the man on the street from his hard earned wedge. But I concentrated my talk on some of the sneakier, lesser known, less ethical tricks, that go on in the banking community.

My talk was a huge success: There was almost a riot when I announced that “in a few months” the banks would be announcing the ‘end of cheques’. “How will I pay the milkman!?” exclaimed one woman – at which point, for the first time ever, a proper discussion ensued. Dad was pleased as punch.

From that moment on I became my Dad’s ‘reserve man’. Each year, for about three years, I’d get a phone call whenever a speaker cancelled and would always be told what my topic would be. For instance, I did a talk entitled “How will I pay the milkman?” – forty five minutes about, amongst other things, how the banks really wanted to get rid of cheques, but at the last moment had changed their collective minds. I promise you it was more interesting than it sounds.

But after a few years I was fed up with being the flippin’ understudy. “Dad,” I said, “I want my own slot in the programme, but more than that, I want to be able to pick my own topic!”

“What do you want to talk on?” asked Dad.

“How to do everything, and be happy,” I replied.

“Hmmm,” said my Dad. “I’m not sure anyone’s going to be interested in that.”

Several years on and I’ve given that same talk – or a version of it – about two hundred times.


If you’d like to hear me speak, or if you’d like to invite me along to your group or society, drop me a line here, or visit my speaker’s website; PeterJonesPublicSpeaker.com

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Chatty

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You know what the best thing about being an author is?

Giving ‘talks’.

Most of my days are spent locked away in this here office either writing (on a good day), or (more likely) doing all the other things that come with the job (most of which fall under the broad heading of promotion). But maybe once a fortnight I leave the house and drive to a church hall, or a community centre, and spend an hour or so entertaining the members of a Women’s Institute, a Town’s Women’s Guide, a branch of the U3A, or a writing circle.

The first talk I ever gave was as part of The Essex Book Festival back in March 2012. To say I was nervous is something of an understatement, but with some two dozen talks under my belt (not to mention numerous workshops and radio interviews) I think I can say with some degree of confidence that I’m getting a feel for them.

My usual talk tells the story of how I came to write my three How To books, how I landed a book deal with audible and Harper Collins, as well as how I met Kate and the influence that she had on my life. It’s all pretty light hearted, with a couple of surprises along the way. Thirty minutes in I usually throw it open to questions and let the audience determine where we go from there.

It’s hard to say how people react without sounding a little big headed. Let’s just say that the last two or three groups I’ve spoken to have already pencilled me into their schedules for a follow-up talk next year. I think that speaks for itself.

If you’d like me to talk to your group or you are looking for an After Dinner Speaker then let’s talk.

Please drop me a line via the contact page, and I’ll get back in touch, diary at the ready.


Right now I’m doing a deal for London / Essex based writing groups & circles. Book me for a talk and I’ll only charge travelling expenses. What’s not to like about that?

FREE TALK

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Wednesday 15th January 2014 – 7:30pm (sharp)

I’m delighted to announce I’ll be giving a *FREE* one hour talk at the Therapy Life Centre in Southend-on-Sea, Essex, January 15th next year.

I’ll be chatting about how and why I came to write How To Do Everything and Be Happy, briefly discussion some of the ideas in the book, as well an answering any questions you might have.

Bring your book if you’d like it signed, or better still, give the one you have to a friend and buy a brand new copy from me on the day! 😀

No need to book – just turn up. Talk starts at 7:30pm sharp as there are other free talks scheduled in that evening – see the Therapy Life Centre website for more details, nearer the time.

Where is the Therapy Life Centre?

We meet at The Therapy Life Centre, in Southend On Sea, Essex. (the old driving test centre) – there is reasonable parking.

The address is 11 Prittlewell Chase, Southend-on-Sea, SS0 0RX
The nearest station is Prittlewell (just fifteen minutes walk away) which is on the Liverpool Street – Southend Victoria line.

Map

View Larger Map

Any questions?

Drop me a line via the contact page if you have any questions. Operators are standing by.


Visit the Therapy Life Centre’s website
More about the Therapy Life Centre

Essex Book Festival (Come and meet me at Debden Library,13th March 2012, 7pm)

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Oi! Pay attention!
This post has been ‘archived’  because things have moved on quite a bit since I wrote it.

To read something a tad more current, click here 

It’s that time of year again – the run up to the annual Essex Book Festival; a month and a bit chock full of book related events featuring authors from all over the country at numerous venues in and around the county.

I’ve been to a number of events over the years, last year I went to see Sara Paretsky, and David Baddiel – both excellent – but this year will be especially interesting because at one event,n Tuesday the 13th March, I won’t be amongst the audience – I’ll be the one at the front!

Yes, you heard it here first, I’m one of the authors in this years festival talking about How To Do Everything and Be Happy. What better way to celebrate over 5,000 sales?

I’ll be honest with you, this feels a little weird. I’m still shocked when someone emails me to tell me they’ve read the book, or when I discover another review on amazon. A part of me is utterly convinced that the only people at Debden Libray on the 13th of March will be me, the head librarian, and some poor soul who’s been coerced into doing the refreshments. This being the case I’d like to extend a warm and very genuine (some might say slightly desperate) invitation to come along – it really would be absolutely lovely to see you. And your friend. If you can’t do it for me, do it for the tea lady.

The way these things normally work is the author chats for a bit, then answers questions. This being the case let me just say that I’d be happy to answer anything – whether that be about the ideas in the book, writing & publishing, or my love of flapjacks. If you’ve read the book bring it along and I’ll scribble in the front for you. If you haven’t read the book, come anyway, there’ll be copies to buy on the night and did I mention there would be refreshments?

Title: Peter Jones talks about his book How to do Everything and Be Happy
Part of:
Essex Book Festival
When: 7pm, Tues 13th March 2012
Venue: Debden Library, c/o Epping Forest College, Borders Lane, Loughton, IG10 3SA
(click here for a map)
Tickets: £4, or £3 for concessions (under 18s, full-time students, registered unemployed and older people in receipt of state benefits)

HOW TO BOOK YOUR TICKETS

Bookings can be made through the Mercury Theatre Box Office on 01206 573948 which is open Monday to Saturday 10am -8pm.

There are no booking charges made by the Mercury although there will be a charge for postage of £1 unless tickets are collected from the Mercury Theatre.

Please advise the Box Office if you have any access requirements when making a booking. Visitors with a disability are offered a free ticket for a companion. If you require a BLS interpreter, please advise the Box Office.
Refunds – The Festival cannot refund money or exchange tickets except if an event is cancelled, in which case return your tickets to the Box Office within 30 days for a full refund.

If you have a query about access or a general enquiry about the event please email hello@essexbookfestival.org.uk or ring 01245 347456.