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Apologies for sending this newsletter out late but February was a busy month for Public Image.  We feel the tide is turning with companies now looking to seriously invest in the branding and soft skills of their staff whether at senior management level or sales teams. We ran a month long programme with the entire senior management team of about 60 from British American.

We also ran the first ever Personal Branding conference at the Panari Hotel with about 30 participants. We also gave talks at Kenyatta University during career week and at Jaffrey Academy. I also got to be interviewed on KTN and NTV business news shows talking about soft skills and personal branding.

I hope we get to work together during 2011 - this is the year for working on your personal brand.

Here is a link to our new showreel thanks to the guys from Cindy

Best Regards,


Diana Mather CEO Public Image UK giving the finer tips of business dining during the Brand Me seminar at the Panari


Ten Annoying Workplace Habits

A list of annoying business habits can be as long as a grocery list. I’ve put together some of the most egregious that I see in the workplace today as well as some of my personal favourites or should I say most annoying.  

1. Misuse of the mobile phone/BlackBerry
The mobile phone has undoubtedly changed our lives and we can’t imagine what life was like without them but they have also been the source of much exasperation especially in the workplace. This has to be in the top three for most people and includes answering the phone during meetings and texting or even tweeting while speaking or listening to someone. Even at conferences you’re likely to see people head down buried in their Blackberry’s while someone is speaking at the podium

2. Ringtone and volume of conversation
Ladies and gentlemen – what does your ringtone say about you as a professional? I sat next to this lady doing a brought in do a project in our office and her mobile phone was constantly ringing off the hook and let’s just say that not everyone was as big a fan of that particular genge tune as she was! To add insult to injury, ninety percent of the calls were personal which the whole office was privy to because she had no volume control on her voice. A most annoying three months I’ll tell you!

3. Showing up late for meetings.
I live and work in Nairobi, fact - there will always be traffic but this should never be an excuse to show up late. Do what you have to do to arrive on time – meaning with at least five minutes to spare before the meeting starts. If you are running late, it is good form to call ahead and let the other person know or reschedule. There is no excuse for tardiness if the meeting is in the office where you work. Don’t keep others waiting in the boardroom.

4. Dressing inappropriately or unprofessionally
I’m sure you’ve seen it all as standards plummet to the lowest common denominator – all I have to say is dress for the job you want and find out what the true definition of business casual is.

5. Body odour
Living in a tropical climate is no excuse to ever not be the freshest we can be at all times especially when working in close quarters with others. Trailing in someone else’s funk is no fun for your office colleagues. Be responsible and do a self check and fix the problem. There are plenty of grooming products in all price ranges for everybody. The opposite is too much perfume or cologne. You may be your brother’s keeper, but don’t embarrass the offender in public, talk to them tactfully in private. Oh and another annoying thing, please do not remove your shoes at work either.

6. Bad PowerPoint presentations
PowerPoint has become the default way of communicating to a large audience where it is easy to do a data dump and throw everything into a pre-designed slide template. It is the bane of corporate life to sit in the dark and watch (or more likely snooze) through dense slide after dense slide as the speaker reads back every bullet point verbatim.

7. Overuse of corporate jargon (or any other jargon for that matter)
This one really gets my goat as well worn clichés have overtaken original thought and ideas. Please don’t say “think outside the box” anymore. This list can also be very long and subjective but I’ll add these that have made it from the political field - ‘carry his/her own cross’ and ‘business as usual’.

8. Unprofessional use in official communication
By this I mean everything from forwarded jokes or “send to ten people or else” to smiley faces and XXX’s in business emails and texts. As for the SMS, when communicating for business, you are sending the wrong message by txting lik dis.

9. Turning the washroom into a meeting room
Don’t confuse the loo with the water cooler. Let others handle their business in peace and don’t discuss the minutes of the meeting in there. Cursory conversation on mundane topics like the weather is permissible when washing hands but don’t carry on a conversation when they are still in the stall or even more annoying from stall to stall.

10. Eating pungent smelling food in the office
I’m not talking about a sandwich wolfed down quickly at your desk during lunch hour but bringing in masala chips or fish from home that makes the entire office reek of Kenchic or mbuta is irritating to your workmates and sends the wrong message if customers are present.

(This article appears in the March edition of KIM Management magazine)

Derek and Diana at the Brand Me seminar on how to get the most out of meetings.


About Public Image


Public Image has a unique approach to building individual and corporate achievement. Business etiquette, creating a positive image though posture and dress, soft skills, communication proficiency, personal branding and networking expertise are key elements in the Public Image approach to developing professional skills.

Projecting a positive image for business will give you an edge in today's competitive market


Going on TV? Read this

For anyone being interviewed on TV, the ability to put your point across in an informative and interesting way is essential. The person who can communicate with authority and confidence has a great advantage over his or her peers. Anyone who has the knowledge and skills of effective communication and media relations can shape public perceptions, external awareness and enhance an organisations positioning.

With any interview it is vital to is to base the performance (it really is one!) and approach from the audience’s point of view. What the audience needs to hear is far more important than what the person might enjoy telling them. Preparation is paramount, coupled with an absolute mastery of the subject to be discussed.  It is vital for the person being interviewed to always make clear in advance any areas that they are not prepared to discuss. There is nothing more cringe worthy to an audience than questions being asked which the person in the hot seat did not expect and is either unable or unwilling to answer.  The resulting embarrassment can lead to a very unconvincing answer and even accusations of dishonesty and in the end reflect poorly on the organization. At all costs one should avoid the politician’s game of answering a different question from the one that has been asked.  

If the interviewers question puts them between a rock and hard place it may be as well to admit to it; not all of it mind you, but as much as it suits the situation.  Replies on the lines of: “I’ve got to admit there’s a lot in what you say.  “We have made mistakes, but we’ve learnt from them and they won’t happen again” - can be helpful.  Having partially proved the point, the interviewer is likely to move on to another subject, hopefully leaving the real skeleton still safely in the cupboard. Added to which, the viewers will have seen an honest face from the organization!

This is a world in which you must remember the interviewer is completely at home and in most cases the person being interviewed is not. You should always try to come across as the expert in your own subject and it should never appear otherwise. The skills required are similar to those used in any tough business negotiation. The secret is to be able to remember and apply them in the world of the media.

For anyone going to appear on TV it is crucial to sit upright and never slouch even when sitting on one of those soft sofa’s that many studio’s have – you’re not at home. And to all gentlemen (and some ladies too) there is nothing more distracting to an audience than sitting with legs too wide apart which reveals way more information than intended!  When it comes to what to wear, the rule of thumb is to avoid checks and stripes as they generally make the cameras feel ill. Sober pastels, blues, creams and very light greens are safe colours to wear on TV. Proper grooming should be attended to before rushing into the studio. Take special note of shoes – they should be polished and in good condition and for ladies closed shoes are more professional than open ones. Any jewellery worn should be kept to a minimum or be discreet. Some studios are lit up like a stadium and you will shine like a beacon or to have sweat beading your brow is not a very good look. It is well within your right to ask for a light touch of powder to keep your forehead from blinding the viewers or else if you regularly do interviews do keep some make-up powder handy or buy some oil absorbent tissue – yes you too gentlemen!

On the question of notes, don’t use them unless you have to, but if their use is unavoidable, refer to them openly and not furtively. Bear in mind that the use of notes can often be interpreted by the audience as a lack of knowledge of the subject. It is essential for anyone being interviewed to come across as composed and in control.  During live questions from the viewers, watch your facial expression, try to maintain a level of interest through nodding and no scowling, grimacing or rolling of the eyes no matter how disdainful the question.


Is your company planning a training event, a sales retreat, or team building?  Find out how Public Image can help at or contact

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Public Image Inc. - Nairobi, Kenya. Ph +254 230 1879