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Chutzpah! – Cheek Charms

Since we are amidst  the awards season, it seemed appropriate to discuss harnessing the power of chutzpah!  The word has been adopted from Yiddish and means someone who has  shameless audacity; the willingness to take bold risks.

The whole theme was actually inspired by Mike Hawkyard of 4T2 Media, business development director of an online gaming company, based here in Dorset.  He was giving a talk at Bournemouth University Executive Business Centre which I was fortunate enough to attend.

He was gleeful in his story of winning the prestigious New Media Age Award for Lego’s Hero Factory Breakout … having asked Lego to foot the bill for it!   Now that’s what I call cheeky charm.


Whilst none in the audience was in any place to win such an award he did regale how 4t2 Media got into the position, to ask such a question of Lego.

He also gave the audience some great tips about building your confidence and getting noticed in an environment where your target audience is likely to be found.

Ask great questions; when you do … start by telling the audience (who now includes the speaker) who you are, what company you work for and what it delivers.  Followed by the statement – my question is ….

This introduction far from being pretentious allows the audience to turn its attention to you. That few moments affects the shift including giving you time to test the power and tone of your voice for maximum impact.  Moreover, it offers a few seconds to calm your nerves and frame your question.  By the time you pose the question you should have ‘everyones’ attention.

This is something we learn at toastmasters during table topics (the two minute impromptu speech on a subject chosen by the table topics master). Breathe, repeat the question, address the audience – give your brain the time to structure the response with a powerful introduction, and engaging end using Kipling’s 5 W and an H to structure a response.  You may often see a speaker respond in this way to a question that has been posed.

Mike, however, takes the question asking one step further and prepares the speaker, by having an informal chat beforehand if possible.  This will give Mike some time to form an engaging question at an appropriate time during the presentation.  When he puts his hand up to ask – he is more likely to be remembered by the speaker and therefore asked for his question.

Later if possible, he will thank the speaker and/or refer to him or her in any online forum thereafter.  In helping to further promote, he becomes a trusted connector.  Chutzpah; what a great way to network and get noticed.  It might take a bit of trying before you are not afraid of total embarrassment but confidence comes with practice.

Let me know if you have any examples of questions you have asked in public – good or bad.  We can learn from both!!!

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