Philippa Thomas is a BBC news presenter, anchoring daily BBC World TV & BBC News Channel programmes including “GMT”, “Impact” and “Outside Source”. She is also a guest presenter on the BBC World Service and Radio Four. She is a steering group member for “Global Women in News”, a 1500 member network of BBC journalists dedicated to creating a more open, diverse and inclusive workplace culture. Philippa helps oversee the network’s busy mentoring programme.
Through Nurole, Philippa was appointed as Trustee and Chair of the Development Committee at London Music Masters.
What is your best advice for organisations who find themselves under the media spotlight?
Stay calm. Agree on a clear line in terms of your media message. If you’re the one facing the music, anticipate questions and push-back: put yourself in the shoes of your interviewer mentally, before you face them for real. As a media professional, I would say it is always obvious to the audience when your interviewee is stalling or avoiding the question. If you can’t provide a clear line, you’re not ready to do the interview.
What is your best advice for anyone speaking at a large public event?
You’ve got a good story to tell, haven’t you? Practice telling it. And imagine what it’s like to hear it. Are you coming over as enthusiastic, warm, witty, convincing? Any two of the above would be a great start.
Members of the audience are only human.
What is your best advice for anyone speaking on live TV?
Consider calmly what you want your viewer to remember.
Practice being interviewed, with a colleague, with a friend, in front of your bathroom mirror if you have to.
Keep it simple. Don’t open your mouth thinking “I must get in these four bullet points…"!
What is your best advice for organisations seeking to champion and pioneer greater diversity and inclusion?
That one doesn’t necessarily follow from the other. It’s a good thing to have a workforce that more accurately reflects society. It’s another thing to promote changes in workplace culture to encourage genuine interaction at all levels, and to ensure that different voices carry real weight in your power structure. I also think that we don’t pay enough attention to social diversity - there’s still a great deal of inequality in terms of class and social privilege in Britain.
What is the best professional advice anyone gave you?
Distinguish between what you can control and what you can’t.
What is your best advice for anyone preparing for their first trustee role?
Don’t rush into the role. Take time to observe what’s happening, hear different points of view, and draw your own conclusions. Ask questions if you’re not sure. Ask for briefings if none are forthcoming. And ask for some training - London Music Masters paid for me to attend Dorothy Dalton’s excellent Civil Society course “Understanding Governance: the trustee role” which covers legal, ethical and financial ground.
When have you got it most wrong professionally and what did you learn?
I didn’t ask for a pay rise for 17 years because I assumed my organisation had my best interests at heart. I love working where I work. But only you have your best interests at heart!
If you could only pass on one piece of wisdom, what would it be?
The words of poet Emily Dickinson: “That it will never come again is what makes life so sweet”.
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