David Parkin on adding value

I’VE spent the last few days in Barcelona.

The sun shone bright in the sky and temperatures topped 20 degrees celsius.

And the only time I really saw daylight was in the cab from the airport to a five star hotel on the coast to the south of the city.

I was working at a business conference.

And do you know what? I really enjoyed myself.

I’ve always thought that if you work with good, talented people and you can deliver a good job, then work never really feels like work.

But for many reasons, that doesn’t always happen.

This week it did and I have my friend, Claire Holt, to thank for the opportunity to be the “speaker coach” at a three-day conference for a division of a global business.

The attendees were the top 150 executives in the division where 35,000 people are employed.

This part of the business represents 10% of the total number of employees of the group as a whole.

Mind-boggling numbers and some of the subjects discussed at the conference were equally bewildering to me.

So I was delighted that my role was to support the speakers with how they delivered their messages rather than the technical and financial information they were conveying.

The theme was imagine and the challenge was that the conference was being held “in the round” in the hotel conference centre with delegates sitting around a circular stage.

Which means that wherever a speaker stood on the stage, they were always going to have their back to some of the audience.

My job was really to get the speakers confident with delivering their speeches and then work with them on how they were going to use the stage.

From the chief executive and members of the senior leadership team to technology experts within the business with little experience of speaking to big audiences, they all embraced the opportunity with gusto.

The compere works within the business and had no experience of taking on such a role before.

But from an initial conversation I quickly worked out that he has an easy charm, quick wit and self-effacing sense of humour – the perfect ingredients for getting an audience on your side so you can guide them smoothly through an event.

So then it was purely a case of making sure he was comfortable with his material and not feeling too self-conscious on that circular stage.

By the end he was ad-libbing like a pro and had the audience in the palm of his hand.


I RARELY get the chance to listen to the full keynote speech at an event when I’m the compere.

I’m often busying myself teeing up the next speaker, preparing questions or dealing with the technical and event team.

The event in Barcelona gave me the chance to listen to most of the speakers including the keynote address by Jim Lawless.

I didn’t know much about Jim beforehand, but he’s a former corporate lawyer turned business speaker who wrote the best-selling business book Taming Tigers.

That’s him in the main photo above.

Unlike many business and motivational speakers, Jim has put his theories into practice.

Early on in his speaking career, he accepted a bet from a member of the audience.

The challenge was that, aged in his mid-30s, weighing 12 stone and physically unfit, could he train to become a professional jockey and compete in a televised horse race within a year?

He succeeded and while winning the bet only secured him one pound, it transformed his speaking career.

Jim then went on, with just eight months training, to achieve the title of the deepest freediver in British history, the first Briton to dive deeper than 100m on a single breath of air.

He’s spoken to more than one million people on five continents and his simple premise is that if you can “tame the tiger” – the critical voice within – you can achieve almost any goal you set for yourself.

Jim is an engaging, entertaining and thought-provoking speaker and I was flattered to receive a signed copy of Taming Tigers from Claire Holt.

Jim wrote in it: “David, go and tell your story.”

I have to say his words really struck a chord with me and I intend to read his book and follow his advice and have already set myself a couple of personal and professional goals to achieve.

I shared a car with Jim Lawless to Barcelona airport after the event and enjoyed chatting to him.

I gave him a bit of a pep talk and some advice.

I’m sure he’ll find it will come in useful.


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I’M often asked what benefits I get from writing this blog.

It takes up quite a bit of my time each week and doesn’t significantly benefit me financially.

I got up this morning before 5.30am to write it before I start “proper” work.

I aim to try and promote my services in it, but that’s not the reason I write it.

A couple of years ago I wrote a tribute to Harrogate businessman Chris Ramus, who ran the eponymous seafood shop and supplied lobsters and seafood to the best restaurants across the North of England.

He took his own life at the age of 72 in 2020 after struggling with mental health issues.

A couple of accountants I know in Harrogate, Tony Armitage and Denys Kaye, read it and sent it on to his daughter Claire Holt, who lives in the South of England.

She sent me a very nice message to say she appreciated the piece and since then we’ve kept in touch on a regular basis, swapping work ideas and advice.

For many reasons Claire is someone I admire, she’s hugely talented, has a great sense of humour and has become a friend.

So when anyone asks me in future what value I get from my blog, I’ll say it’s priceless.


I’VE always said, if you are going to make a success of yourself in events – and in life in general, then you’ve got to make an impact if you want to leave a legacy.

To view the video click this link:


The photo and video above were sent to me by event creator and coordinator Claire Holt with the caption: “Adding value.”

It’s what I do, innit?

Have a great weekend.

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