As a speaker, teacher, and activist I can offer you and your organization a full range of services to help you inspire people and ROUSE Them to action. Working together we find the heart of your message and bring it, beating, to life. Need a workshop on the subtle science and art of persuasion to help you or your members become more convincing? Or perhaps you’re preparing a big pitch or presentation, and want an experienced outsider to give you honest, critical feedback during intense coaching? Maybe you’re putting together a conference and want a funny, rousing keynote which will bring the audience to their feet?
I can do it all.
Please Note: I’m a UK citizen currently resident in the USA as a student. This severely limits the work I can do in America. If you’re in Canada or the EU, we’re golden: book away! If you’re a non-profit, religious organization, or political campaign in the USA, and you support causes I care about, I might well donate my services to you as a volunteer – as long as you wouldn’t normally pay someone to do what I do. If you’re a progressive organization and you think you could use my help, get in touch – we’ll see if we can work wonders!
It is truly a unique experience to be moved to action by speech alone, but James has the ability to enchant a room full of individuals simply with the emotional sway of his words.
– Charlotte Arsenault, M.Div Harvard Divinity School
James is an inspiring, dynamic, funny, and engaging speaker who can make complex concepts sound simple and fascinating. He combines deep understanding of his subject matter, years of training as an actor and singer, and his experience as an activist and educator to bring ideas and audiences alive. His areas of specialty are education (particularly in the arts), human potential, activism, and inspirational leadership. He can speak on the following topics, or develop something especially for you.
ROUSE Them: Inspiring People to Act
This is the centerpiece of my speaking repertoire, my pièce de résistance. This is where I take all my passions – dramatic, educational, and persuasive – and smash them together into a talk about how to inspire people, how to ROUSE Them to action. I’ll introduce my eight elements of inspiration – Information, Necessity, Solidarity, Purpose, Injury, Reimagination, Empowerment, and Devotion – giving examples and practices related to each. If you want people fired up, if you want them ready to go, then this is the talk for you.
Ideas that Sing: Finding Awe, Wonder, and Inspiration in Life
I’m a votary of inspiration: I seek out experiences which fill me with awe and wonder, from the vast expanse of a night filled with stars (my first published academic paper was on Planetariums) to the exquisite sounds of a gospel choir singing in glorious concert. I want to be awed. What are the characteristics of awe and wonder, what are the benefits, and how can we seek out these rarest and most precious of emotional jewels? Book this presentation and find out.
There, Not Back Again: Storytelling with Direction
We all love a good story – indeed, we’re made to love good stories. Narrative provides a frame through which to understand our existence, a way of joining things together so they make sense as part of a larger whole. But the best sort of stories are ones with a purpose, ones which seek to move us: parables, fables, allegories, myths, and legends. In this talk I’ll draw on psychologists, literary critics, and activists – including the work of legendary organizer Marshall Ganz – to reveal how effective stories work, and tell a few great ones in the process.
Rigor and Wonder: An Educational Ideal
At heart, I’m a teacher. I love to help people learn things, develop their talents. But many educational spaces, for lack of a better word, suck. They’re either dull and uninspiring or exciting and shallow. I want both. I see no reason why educational experiences shouldn’t be challenging, deep, and serious while also gripping, thrilling, and awesome. Rigor and Wonder: that’s the ticket. I once gave this talk for education students at Goddard College in Vermont: I hear they were still talking about it two years later. Want to find out why?
I can’t thank you enough for your truly outstanding presentation/workshop Saturday morning. There were many excellent points, of course, but what really blew me away was how perfectly (and subtly) your presentation itself was a demonstration of all the points you were making. That is a REAL skill and it will make me smile for a long time just thinking about how perfect it was… Well done!!
– Lauren Becker, VP and Director of Outreach, Center for Inquiry
Drawing on years of work as a teacher – in drama schools, high schools, universities (the Harvard Graduate School of Education and the Harvard Kennedy School), and even prisons – James can craft a workshop which will convey essential ideas with crystal clarity and effortless grace, and enable participants ample opportunity to practice. All the above speeches can be given in workshop form – I’ll tailor them to meet your needs. In addition I offer the following workshops:
Elicit the Best: Finding the Best in Others so as to Find the Best in Yourself
Religious Leader Felix Adler once came up with what he called the “Supreme Ethical Rule”: Act So As To Elicit the Best In Others and Thereby In Thy Self. He believed that we are our full, best selves only when we are working full tilt toward eliciting what is best in other people. In this workshop for educators and leaders of all types I’ll explore numerous ways we can find the best in other people, in order to find the best in ourselves.
These Aren’t the Droids You’re Looking For: Jedi Mind Tricks for Greater Persuasion
Drawing from the work of legendary Harvard Professor Gary Orren, who has been teaching a class in Persuasion at the Harvard Kennedy School for decades, I’ll show you how to effectively use Logos (logical argument), Ethos (your credibility as a speaker), and Pathos (emotional intelligence) to become more persuasive. Using fun, contemporary analogies and engaging activities your group will learn ten scientifically-validated techniques to ensure that you raise more money, get more votes, and sell more units.
It turns out that emotional intelligence is a critical part of success, both in the workplace and in life. People who are liked by their colleagues do better at work, and people who can get their clients to like them can expect to see sales rocket! Not all of us are gifted with the charm of Mark Twain, but luckily you can learn to be more likable. That’s what this workshop is about: improving your EQ without being fake or creepy – authenticity in all things!
Speaking Without Words: The Art of Nonverbal Communication
Much of what we say, we say without words. Our gestures, stance, and dress, our eyes, face, and vocal tone: all these make a huge difference when it comes to communication. And, while most of us can control what we say, few of us have full control over how we say it. This workshop explores all elements of non-verbal communication in an active, physical way, getting participants up on their feet and on top of their game.
Teaching Without Telling
This workshop for educators draws on years of work with Eleanor Duckworth, one of the leading proponents of progressive educational methods in the world today. I’ll help you reframe how you think about teaching and learning so you can place the power back into the hands of learners, showing that only when you show genuine interest in a learner’s thoughts will you encourage them to show a similar interest.
Other Educational Workshops
In my work as a tutor trainer for Veritas Tutors (an educational consultancy based in Cambridge, MA) I’ve developed numerous workshops for teachers based on the latest developments in cognitive science and learning theory. I can teach about how to maintain high expectations, the importance of reinforcing a malleable view of intelligence, how to take a deep approach to subject matter, and more!
Coaching and Consultation
James is a coach extraordinaire! I relied heavily on him to craft and strengthen several pitches for business plan competitions. He had an uncanny ability to cut away the excess and strip down the pitch to the most highly effective elements. His incredible sense for how to build the content of my presentation into a vivid, gripping narrative enabled us to win thousands of dollars in prize money! Not to mention, his warmth, energy, and commitment to making sure you are the best make him a delight to work with. I cannot thank you enough, James!
- Megan Marcus, CEO FuelEd
Coaching is a passion of mine: when I’m working with a client I love to see the lights fire up in their eyes as they realize how they can bring their vision to life with greater verve and vivacity than they ever imagined. I work with individuals and groups, and can offer a one-off consultation – perfect both for when you need an outside expert to give you a supportive-yet-critical take on a pitch or presentation - and long-term coaching for when you want to develop your persuasive and inspirational powers to the fullest.
Presentation or Pitch Consultation
If your making a fundraising pitch or a conference presentation, presenting a business plan for the first time, competing in a competition, or even giving a speech at a wedding, I’d love to help you out. I’ll work with you at the start of a project, helping you uncover the story you want to tell, or swoop in near the end and give you an outsider’s view. I pride myself on a supportive but totally honest approach: if your presentation really sucks, I promise to tell you – nicely, gently, with British charm, certainly – but I’ll tell you. The truth will set you free.
I’ll work with you on:
- Narrative Dynamics, uncovering the story you want to tell and making it sing
- Metaphoric strategy, finding sticky images and analogies to make your ideas pop
- Gripping delivery, ensuring your audience hangs on your every word
- Crystal clarity, releasing you from jargon and mumbling to make your ideas clear
If you want to significantly increase your persuasive power and inspirational potential – if you want to truly learn how to ROUSE Them – you’ll have to practice. You’re in it for the long-haul. I started performing as a young kid, and have never left the stage since. My work as an educator began in my teens, and continues to this day. It takes time to make the skills of inspiration and persuasion second-nature. But it is possible. You can learn to become more inspirational, more persuasive. And that’s what we’ll work on if you want me to coach you long-term.
- Voice coaching, helping you play the most exquisite of all instruments – the human voice – like a maestro
- Persuasive technique, using scientifically-proven strategies to make a pitch more persuasive – guaranteed
- Passion Archaeology, discovering what drives you so you can use your passion to drive others
- Finding and being yourself – because the most important aspect of any presentation is the authenticity and comfort of the speaker
James has a brilliant command of written language. As an editor, the quality and tact of his critiques optimizes beyond the exceptional to the sensational! James has a captivating voice; technically deft and emotionally keen, his work is compelling and inspirational. I am elated at the work produced by this master wordsmith.
- Josiah Nosek, former Navy Group Supervisor on the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower
Writing a critical fundraising letter? Want to win a prestigious scholarship? Preparing an application for college? I’ll marshal my years of experience as a writer and my persuasive skills to help you craft the most persuasive and effective message possible. I can work with you from the beginning to help uncover the story you want to tell and bring it into clearer focus, or step in toward the end and offer my swift and insightful critique. I can help you draft:
- Application letters
- Personal statements
- Fundraising letters
- Written pitches