Speaker | Facilitator
John Clare is a keynote speaker, conference host and interviewer with a passion for communication and dismay of how PowerPoint reduces so many speakers to corporate automatons. He believes we are all natural storytellers and his personal mission is to bring that skill to the business world. John has a lively, engaging and interactive style which is guaranteed to inject energy and passion into any corporate event, whether as a host, a speaker…or both.
A former TV and newspaper journalist, an award-winning documentary maker and the author of a number of books on communication. John has particular expertise in the scientific and medical worlds but his storytelling skills are so versatile he can tailor each presentation to whatever the subject and whoever the company, brand, or industry. His watchwords are: Inform, engage, and inspire. His passion is showing people how to do that while doing it himself.
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John grew up in Manchester and Oldham, and got the journalism bug by the time he was 13, when he had a job as a newspaper delivery boy. He would be constantly told off – by customers and his bosses - for taking longer than anyone else. ‘But I was reading the papers’ he would reply. He used to follow the reporters’ bylines, and became obsessed with the idea of travelling the world, covering exciting events and foreign football. So much so that when his careers teacher suggested he should be a bank clerk or an estate agent he laughed out loud and was given a detention for lack of respect. Undeterred, he found his own way into the world’s second oldest profession, packed his bags and headed for London, with Fleet Street in his sights. At the age of 21 he got there as a staff reporter on the world’s biggest-selling English language newspaper. He was a young lad, wet behind the ears compared with the hard-bitten, cynical (and yes, occasionally drunken) old hacks.
After a succession of scoops for tabloid papers he dumped his first love, newspapers, for the apparent glamour of television. After working in regional TV (more scoops) he joined the fledgling breakfast TV station TVAM, where the ‘Famous Five’ were intent on breaking the mould of broadcasting. Sadly, they didn’t manage it until Roland Rat came to the rescue, and one of John’s strangest jobs was to lie on his back on the floor of an edit suite interviewing Britain’s most famous rodent (don’t ask). ITN came calling and he spent years on the road, covering deaths and disasters from Heysel to Hungerford, from Belfast bombings to the Bradford fire. He used to joke that if he met an untimely early end, it would be with the news footage under his arm, racing to the rendezvous point so it could be broadcast to the world.
John also got into (and out of) some hair-raising scrapes. He and his colleagues were accused of piracy on the high seas when they kidnapped a man rowing the Atlantic (the only way to keep him away from competitors). Another time, he hired a private jet to fly footage of a hijacked airliner back home...only to find the airport closed because of the hijack, but ITN still liable for the bill. ‘Didn’t it dawn on you that there were no planes taking off or landing?’ Screamed his boss down the phone. ‘Well, now you come to mention it...it did seem a bit quiet for an airport.’
This was the time when Margaret Thatcher had described ITV as ‘the last bastion of restrictive practices’. John began to wonder, as he tried to work out what all those people in the film crew actually did, whether things would change. They did, and after a stint as editor of LWT News, the first independent news programme in the UK, he found himself at the exciting British Satellite Broadcasting, launched as a rival to Rupert Murdoch’s Sky TV. The allure of the ‘squarial’ satellite dish proved elusive, however, and BSB flopped after spending a reported £1.8bn for eight months on air. John is keen to point out that his own expenses were not the cause.
In 1992 he began his second career: He launched LionsDen Communications. The company initially produced corporate videos and did media training for executives. By chance he found himself in the health and medical sector, and was the executive producer of a controversial TV series on genetically modified whose organs could be transplanted into sick humans. The series, ‘Organ Farm’, was shown and won awards all over the world. I also produced headlines about ‘Frankenstein Farms’ which John had to defend with the international media.
Since then John has built an international reputation, as a trusted but critical friend to senior executives and communications consultant to some of the world’s largest corporations. He’s in great demand as a keynote speaker on many aspects of communication and reputation. He has spoken at hundreds of events in the UK, mainland Europe, the USA, Far East, Latin America and Russia. He is often given the ‘graveyard slot’ just after lunch, with the aim of stirring audiences out of their post-prandial slumber – a role he is delighted to take on.
His lively, engaging and interactive style is guaranteed to inject energy and passion into any corporate setting. His speciality is storytelling for business. He is an expert storyteller with a background in scientific enterprises as communications coach to many of the world’s biggest pharmaceutical companies.
He also a highly skilled interviewer, moderator and conference host, where he delights in injecting energy into the event, asking the right questions and keeping it running to time.
He has a particular expertise in the healthcare, pharmaceutical and medical worlds, but his corporate experience is relevant to all sectors. He writes and conducts interviews for pharmaceutical and business magazines when he can fit it in. He is the author of five books on aspects of the media and communication.