Boxing, Bach and the Spectacular ‘can’

1001896_695187987165032_1047293020_nVenture into a corporate coaching relationship with REDgum, or one of our Presentations that Make a Difference open workshops, and you could find yourself working on your jabs, forehands and smashes! We’ve found that if you ask someone to give a presentation while playing table tennis on our Redgum table*, they’re more able to let go of self-consciousness, and ‘tell a story’ rather than performing a speech. And if a coaching client needs to be more assertive in his or her communication style, having them pull on boxing gloves and articulate their interactions ‘with punch’ enables a greater congruence between visual, vocal and verbal messaging. These techniques build confidence in communication. Clients surprise themselves and shed their self-imposed limitations. (One of my favourite quotes when I was backpacking in Europe, the US and Asia in the 1980’s was Argue for your limitations, and sure enough…they’re yours by Richard Bach). They overcome fear and learn to know ‘I can’, rather than ‘I can’t’.


We’re not always orthodox in our approach, and value outside-the-box thinking in creating a client learning experience that really sticks. The endgame is always to create behavioural change. People will only change when they feel something – the insurance salesperson wants you to feel fearful of the consequences of being under-insured, the advert for carpet cleaning tries to make listeners feel guilty if they don’t clean their carpets and Puma uses Usain Bolt to inspire people to wear Puma gear because he is inspiring (to say the least).

Instructing, telling, ‘chalk and talk’ teaching have only a small impact. Doing is the best way to learn, and our work is relentlessly experiential. So when you enlist our help, prepare to roll up your sleeves and use your mind, body and voice!

Recently I was delighted to attend the Victorian State Schools Spectacular – featuring an 80-piece orchestra, 1500-voice choir, 1400 mass dancers, 23 lead vocalists, 25 principal dancers, 25 ensemble dancers, 14 backing vocalists, 42 roller skaters and 35 circus performers – all of them school students. Neill Gladwin (Director of Olympic opening ceremonies) and Chong Lim (Dancing with the Stars ) led an amazing professional team to create a truly spectacular Spectacular, and along the way gave these 3,000 students and the 10,000 people who saw the show an experience to treasure. There were very few indications in the three-hour performance that this was not a fully professional cast, and gave powerful credence to an optimistic view of our global future. Our political and business leaders could well learn from these children the basic goodness and unmitigated potential of ‘child-like wonder’. Our REDgum client Richard Harmer from the Holos Group believes it to be the key to leadership success.

Einstein – a fairly insightful chap – said: There are only two ways to live your life . One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle. There’s a place for educated scepticism, but when it turns to systematic cynicism, much is lost and little is achieved. The State Schools Spectacular embodie the essence of what can be achieved with a clear plan and the talents and confidence of children who haven’t learnt to believe ‘you can’t’.

* I built the table from hundred year-old River Redgum (e. Camaldulensis) salvaged from stockyards and a derelict woolshed in Western Victoria. It’s the same length, but slightly narrower than an Olympic standard table-tennis table, and comfortably seats ten.


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James Freemantle

Company founder James Freemantle has worked internationally in communications and training for over two decades, helping people to experience dramatic improvement in their abilities to express, influence and inspire. Professional sportspeople, entertainers and executives rely on him to enhance their abilities in presentation techniques, personal branding and media training.

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