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Specialist training for creative professionals

Welcome to Wishful Thinking, where Mark McGuinness provides specialist coaching and training for creative companies and shares tips on his popular blog.
  • Create an impact when it counts

    If your business depends on wowing clients and winning pitches with creative presentations, you need to know you can deliver.

    Mark McGuinness speaking at the Royal College of Art

    Mark McGuinness speaking at the Royal College of Art for FuelRCA

    Many people (audiences included) dread presentations, and ‘death by PowerPoint’ is so common it’s become a cliche.

    When the spotlight is on you, it’s easy to forget the purpose of a live presentation and hide behind your material, reading out slides full of bullet points that overwhelm the audience with information.

    But it doesn’t have to be this way.

    By taking a creative approach to designing and delivering your presentations, you can boost your confidence and actually enjoy the whole process. You’ll also stand out from the crowd and be a refreshing — and memorable — change for your audience.

    My Creative Presentation Skills workshop will teach you how to do just that.

    With a little imagination and preparation, you can design and deliver a truly original presentation. The kind that lingers in people’s minds long after the event and gets them talking. The kind that changes minds and inspires action.

    You don’t need to speak like a trained actor or produce slides like a professional designer.

    You don’t need to deliver the whole thing word perfect.

    You don’t even need to know everything there is to know about your chosen topic.

    You just need to connect with your passion and the audience’s interests — and inject a little creativity into your preparation.

    “We asked Mark to train our agency on giving effective presentations. Although we are a creative organisation it was really useful to have his input on how to present our ideas as persuasively as possible, and most importantly, how to present ourselves as people.

    “Mark showed us (by example and practical exercises) the value of storytelling and emotional engagement in conveying even complex ideas. He also instilled the importance of avoiding cluttered slides, so the focus stays on the presenter.

    “We immediately put his lessons to use, and our success rate in pitches has risen steadily following his training course.

    “Mark is also a source of inspiration on personal development, and how to use both successes and failures to achieve your life goals.”

    Reg Manser, Creative Director, Life Healthcare

    Creative presentation skills training

    Silhouette of presenterCreative Presentation Skills is for anyone who wants or needs to be a better presenter. And these days, that includes most of us.

    Whatever your line of work, making a powerful connection with a live audience is critical for success – in team meetings, and at conferences, auditions and client pitches.

    And in many creative industries, pitching to win business is essential for companies to survive and thrive.

    Silhouette of presenterCreative Presentation Skills is perfectly suited to the specific needs of creative teams and creative industries workers, in fields such as television, design, advertising, marketing, publishing, architecture, computer games, music, fashion, film, theatre, dance or technology.

    The workshop is also relevant to anyone who needs to present their ideas – and wants to take a creative approach to making an impact.

    What you will learn

    Creative Presentation Skills is a practical workshop that will teach you simple principles of presentation design and delivery, unlocking your creativity and releasing your natural speaking voice.

    This presentation skill training will teach you the three skills that are essential to creating a compelling presentation:

    1. Get Your Thoughts In Order

    Silhouette of presenterYou will learn to organise your material into a logical structure that makes it easy for you to remember and deliver – even if the worst happens and the projector breaks down and the dog eats all your notes!

    The same organising principles will make it easy for your audience to grasp your ideas and remember them.

    2. Captivate Your Audience with the Power of Storytelling

    Silhouette of presenterAn entrancing presentation appeals to the emotions as well as logic – and stories are one of the most powerful ways to engage your audience emotionally and persuasively.

    Even if you don’t consider yourself a natural storyteller, I’ll show you how to dream up stories that will resonate for your audience, and tell them in an engaging way.

    3. Speak Confidently, Fluently and Persuasively

    Silhouette of presenterOnce you have your material, it’s time to concentrate on delivery. I’ll teach you how to get into the right frame of mind to present, by tapping into your natural enthusiasm.

    I’ll also show you how to add some verbal polish by using some simple but powerful rhetorical patterns. And I’ll help you handle stage nerves and deal with challenging audiences.

    4. Enhance Your Talk with Eye-Catching Slides

    Silhouette of presenterYou don’t need PowerPoint slides to give a great presentation, so we leave them until the end, as an option you can use to enhance your delivery.

    Most PowerPoint slides are monstrosities – crammed full of bullet points, text in tiny fonts, hideous clipart, and ill-advised corporate logo templates. Don’t go there.

    I’ll show you how to create stunning slides that illustrate your presentation and help you make an impression on your audience. Even if you’re not a graphic designer (I’m not), you can create beautiful and memorable slides – and take a lot of satisfaction in doing so.

    A practical and enjoyable learning experience

    The workshop is highly interactive and gives you plenty of time to practise your presentation skills in a safe (and fun) environment.

    During the workshop you will design and deliver a short presentation about a subject that matters to you — ideally one that you will have the chance to deliver as part of your work.

    The course is delivered in person by me, and features:

    • Inspiring stories and relevant examples
    • How-to instruction
    • Lively group discussions
    • Practising your presentation skills and receiving individual feedback

    Silhouette of presenterWhen you attend Creative Presentation Skills you will receive access to an online summary of the workshop, which relieves you of the need to make detailed notes. So you can focus 100% on your experience of the training – listening, asking questions, sharing ideas and practising new skills.

    I make sure everyone has plenty of fun during our time together – and that you leave with useful ideas and practical skills you can start applying the very next day at work.

    “Mark’s presentation skills course was a really fun and engaging learning experience. Around a dozen people from Econsultancy took part, across a range of different job functions and with varying levels of presenting experience. The structure worked very well, and gave everyone the opportunity to do some presenting in a non-threatening atmosphere.

    “It’s given us all a solid platform to feel more confident when we present in a range of different environments. From a research point of view, Mark’s advice on slide design has me think hard about how we present our data.”

    Linus Gregoriadis, Research Director, Econsultancy

    Mark McGuinness – Creative Business Trainer

    Mark McGuinness speaking at the Royal College of Art

    Mark McGuinness speaking at the Royal College of Art for FuelRCA

    I’ve been coaching and training creative professionals since 1996.

    Organisations I have worked with include the BBC, Channel 4, Transport for London, The Institute of Practitioners in Advertising, TBWA Media Arts Lab, Dare Digital, ASOS, Magnum, Econsultancy, Gist, Vodafone, BT, Servier Laboratories, The Orchestra of the Age of Englightenment, The British Library Business and IP Centre, The Cultural Industries Development Agency (CIDA), The Arts Council, The Cultural Leadership Programme, Arts & Business, Spread the Word, The University of Warwick, King’s College London, the University of the Arts, London, and the Royal College of Art.

    As well as facilitating others’ creativity, I know the creative process from the inside-out, as a poet and author of a string of successful ebooks and two of the most popular creativity blogs in the world, at LateralAction.com and WishfulThinking.co.uk.

    I originally qualified as a psychotherapist and hold an MA in Creative & Media Enterprises (with distinction) from the University of Warwick.

    “I can’t recommend Mark enough. His seminars are always engaging, useful and relevant. By the end of every session the seminar room is full of motivated and inspired faces. I can’t wait to work with him again!”

    Sian James, Project Manager – Create KX

    In the course of my career I’ve given hundreds of presentations, as a trainer, lecturer and conference speaker.

    My audiences have included executives, corporate teams, artists and creatives, students, healthcare practitioners and wedding guests (four Best Man speeches).

    Silhouette of presenterTopics I’ve spoken on include creativity, management, entrepreneurship, psychotherapy, communication skills, time management, personality types, marketing, motivation, – and of course, presentation skills.

    As well as the usual presentation formats, I’ve given live readings of my own poetry, delivered podcasts and audio seminars over the internet, and presented my work in a TV documentary for the Discovery Health Channel.

    In the process, I’ve made just about every mistake in the book – and found practical solutions to all of the major challenges facing public speakers.

    I’ve created this presentation skills training to give you the benefit of what I’ve learned – and to make the process quick and easier for you than it was for me. :-)

    “Mark’s presentation and workshop was illuminating, entertaining and, most importantly, beneficial to my development team.”

    Sean Kirkegaard, Development Executive – BBC Children’s Television

    “Mark gave some excellent food for thought to the wide range of creative freelancers we work with. The seminar ended with the room buzzing even at 8pm at night after a long day’s work.”

    Clare Hudson, Creative Industries Manager – Creative Leicestershire

    Book this workshop for your organisation

    To enquire about booking this workshop for your organisation, please contact me using the form below or by telephone at +44 (0)1707 644 665.

    • Please tick any additional workshops you may be interested in booking.
    • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

    Be first to know about the next public workshop

    If you’d like me to let you know next time I run this workshop as a public event (usually in London), enter your email address and hit ‘subscribe’.

    I’ll then send you occasional email announcements whenever I launch a new event, product or service for creative people.

    Of course I will never share your email address, and you are free to unsubscribe at any time.

    “Mark was an engaging and likeable speaker, keeping a demanding audience of postgraduate art and design students rapt for nearly two hours. He tailored his material perfectly for our audience, and his advice was useful, relevant and pitched at exactly the right level. He also responded with sensitivity and warmth to the audience’s questions after his talk.”

    Sarah Douglas, FuelRCA, Royal College of Art

    P.S.

    Silhouette of presenterIf you’re considering booking this workshop for your team but you’re not sure whether it will address the specific challenges you’re facing, feel free to contact me using the form above.

    I’ll be happy to discuss your requirements on a no-obligation basis – and of course I will treat anything you tell me as strictly confidential.

    Create an impact when it counts
  • Motivation – a neglected key to creativity

    When we think of creativity, we think of creative thinking. But motivation is at least as important to unlock high-level creative performance.

    Mark McGuinness speaking at the Royal College of Art

    Mark McGuinness speaking at the Royal College of Art for FuelRCA

    There is now a large body of research evidence demonstrating some surprising findings about creativity:

    • When people are focused on extrinsic motivations – i.e. rewards and punishments – their creativity suffers.
    • But when they are driven by intrinsic motivations – e.g. interest, meaning, purpose, learning, freedom – their creative performance soars.

    So if you’re engaged in creative work, you need to be very careful to focus on the right kind of motivation – which is hard when you are under pressure to succeed.

    And if you’re the manager or leader of a creative team, you can actually harm their performance by offering rewards! You need to forget the carrot and the stick, and find new ways to inspire them to do their best work.

    I’ve created this motivation training workshop to help you with these complex challenges, and harness the four most powerful types of motivation to produce outstanding creative work – in yourself or your team.

    The workshop is based on my popular ebook How to Motivate Creative People (Including Yourself).

    “This was nothing like I expected and much better than I expected. Made me look at how I work and why I work, in a completely different way. Mark has a very laid back style which is great.”

    Sarah Turner, TurnerInk.co.uk

    There are two versions of the workshop: for Creatives and for Leaders of Creative Teams.

    Motivation training for creatives

    This workshop has been designed for creative people of all kinds — artists, creatives, freelancers, entrepreneurs, and anyone else who takes their creativity seriously.

    It is perfectly suited to the specific needs of creative teams and creative industries workers, in fields such as television, design, advertising, marketing, publishing, architecture, computer games, music, fashion, film, theatre, dance or technology.

    The workshop is also applicable to professionals working in any industry, if their success depends on tackling complex creative challenges and delivering focused work in a busy environment.

    What you will learn

    This practical motivation training will help you understand the four most powerful types of motivation and use them to achieve creative and commercial success.

    I will show you how to:

    • Boost your motivation
    • Spark your creativity
    • Balance your creative and career ambitions
    • Influence others
    • Stop suffering for your art — start enjoying it!
    “I really liked the way you related the issues of the talk with stories which you almost acted out! It was interesting relating problems which you experience yourself to other people who have succeeded – it made it seem more achievable! I really enjoyed it, a really comfortable atmosphere was created and the group seemed to get on well. Thank you!”

    Candida Bradley, CandiPops.com

    Topics include:

    • The four most powerful types of motivation
    • Why focusing on rewards can harm your creativity
    • How to write 47 novels before breakfast
    • Why some people seem so weird — and how to deal with them
    • The positive side of peer pressure
    “We were delighted to welcome to Mark to Creative Northants for a day-long workshop which focused on motivation in the morning and time management in the afternoon. I was particularly pleased to meet Mark, having followed his blogs for a few years.

    “Mark has a direct and empathetic style and instantly established a strong rapport with the group of creative businesses with whom we work. We had a lively and engaging day, full of challenge and fun. The content of the workshop was exactly what the businesses were looking for and all left inspired and ready to implement some new ideas in their businesses.”

    Morag Ballantyne, Business Development Advisor, Creative Northants

    Motivation training for leaders of creative teams

    This version of the workshop is for leaders, managers and directors and facilitators of creative teams:

    • Senior Creatives – who are getting to grips with inspiring and managing others
    • Professional Managers – who want to understand the creative mindset and motivate creative workers

    I will help you:

    • Get inside the creative mindset
    • Understand how motivation affects creativity
    • Get better work out of creative people
    • Avoid (inadvertently) crushing their motivation
    • Use rewards effectively
    • Understand and influence different personality types
    “If you’re a creative director like me, Mark’s ebook How to Motivate Creative People (Including Yourself) is a must-read.”

    Tim Siedell, Fusebox

    Topics include:

    • Why motivation is crucial to creativity
    • Why you can’t motivate anybody – but what you can do instead
    • What Iggy Pop can teach you about management
    • How to use rewards without harming creativity
    • How to promote creative collaboration
    “Mark’s ebook is the kind of reading that should be required for new supervisors as well as those in the creative professions.”

    Steve Roesler, Roesler Consulting Group

    A practical and enjoyable learning experience

    The workshop is highly interactive and helps you achieve sustainable motivation and innovation – keeping your creative spark alight and persevering in the face of challenges, to achieve things you can be proud of.

    The workshop is delivered in person by me, and features:

    • Inspiring stories and relevant examples
    • How-to instruction
    • Lively group discussions
    • Practical activities and helpful feedback

    When you attend the workshop you will receive a copy of my popular ebook How to Motivate Creative People (Including Yourself), which relieves you of the need to make detailed notes – so you can focus 100% on your experience of the training – listening, asking questions, sharing ideas and practising new skills.

    I make sure everyone has plenty of fun during our time together – and that you leave with useful ideas and practical skills you can start applying the very next day at work.

    Mark McGuinness – Creative Business Trainer

    Mark McGuinness speaking at the Royal College of Art

    Mark McGuinness speaking at the Royal College of Art for FuelRCA

    I’ve been coaching and training creative professionals since 1996.

    Organisations I have worked with include the BBC, Channel 4, Transport for London, The Institute of Practitioners in Advertising, TBWA Media Arts Lab, Dare Digital, ASOS, Magnum, Econsultancy, Gist, Vodafone, BT, Servier Laboratories, The Orchestra of the Age of Englightenment, The British Library Business and IP Centre, The Cultural Industries Development Agency (CIDA), The Arts Council, The Cultural Leadership Programme, Arts & Business, Spread the Word, The University of Warwick, King’s College London, the University of the Arts, London, and the Royal College of Art.

    As well as facilitating others’ creativity, I know the creative process from the inside-out, as a poet and author of a string of successful ebooks and two of the most popular creativity blogs in the world, at LateralAction.com and WishfulThinking.co.uk.

    I originally qualified as a psychotherapist and hold an MA in Creative & Media Enterprises (with distinction) from the University of Warwick.

    “I can’t recommend Mark enough. His seminars are always engaging, useful and relevant. By the end of every session the seminar room is full of motivated and inspired faces. I can’t wait to work with him again!”

    Sian James, Project Manager – Create KX

    “Mark’s presentation and workshop was illuminating, entertaining and, most importantly, beneficial to my development team.”

    Sean Kirkegaard, Development Executive – BBC Children’s Television

    “Mark gave some excellent food for thought to the wide range of creative freelancers we work with. The seminar ended with the room buzzing even at 8pm at night after a long day’s work.”

    Clare Hudson, Creative Industries Manager – Creative Leicestershire

    Book this workshop for your organisation

    To enquire about booking this workshop for your organisation, please contact me using the form below or by telephone at +44 (0)1707 644 665.

    • Please tick any additional workshops you may be interested in booking.
    • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.
    “Mark was an engaging and likeable speaker, keeping a demanding audience of postgraduate art and design students rapt for nearly two hours. He tailored his material perfectly for our audience, and his advice was useful, relevant and pitched at exactly the right level. He also responded with sensitivity and warmth to the audience’s questions after his talk.”

    Sarah Douglas, FuelRCA, Royal College of Art

    P.S.

    If you’re considering booking this workshop for your team but you’re not sure whether it will address the specific challenges you’re facing, feel free to contact me using the form above.

    I’ll be happy to discuss your requirements on a no-obligation basis – and of course I will treat anything you tell me as strictly confidential.

    Motivation – a neglected key to creativity
  • Manage the mundane, create the extraordinary

    Time management training may not sound the most inspiring activity — but it could make or break your creativity, not to mention your career.

    [Continue Reading]

    Manage the mundane, create the extraordinary

Creative Business Coaching


Coaching for senior creatives and leaders of creative teams, with Mark McGuinness.


In-person in the UK, or worldwide via webcam.


Click here for details.

Creative Training