An Interview with Graham Mitchell

1 January 2012

Can you remember your first speaking engagement?

Yes, it was in the vaults at Berry Bros and Rudd and went very well. Just before I stood up the organiser who was sitting next to me said, “last year we had Geoff Miller as our speaker, he was brilliant, so very, very funny he is a magnificent speaker, superb, very polished....................... now I’ll introduce you!”.

How did the corporate speaking start?

I had been presenting on wine for several years, but I had a call from an agency saying they had a firm of lawyers who wanted me to speak at the end of a dinner for half an hour - how much would I charge? It turned out that one of the lawyers had been to a tutored wine tasting event I had presented and enjoyed my light-hearted style and humorous stories.

Which event has been your favourite and why?

Last year I went to Jersey to perform an after-dinner speech for a bank and I discovered there were going to be some old friends in the audience so I was able to go “off piste” a little and brought up some old humorous political stories to go with some wine stories.

If you could speak at any event, past or future, what would it be?

The bigger the better......

Who would you most like to share a platform with?

Rory Bremner

On average, how many times a year do you speak at corporate events?

It fluctuates but somewhere between 30 and 50 events and growing.

Do you use PowerPoint?

No, not normally, but would be happy to if appropriate.

Are you as happy speaking to 50 as to 1,000 people?


How do you like to be introduced?

Very often it is just "Here’s the Wine Explorer to take us on a light-hearted journey through the vineyards", or even "here’s our guest speaker," it doesn’t really matter as I often introduce myself.

Do you always like to do a briefing call before the event?

Preferably, yes.

What are the most asked for topics?

Funny wine stories, a blend of information and humour about wine.

Is your speech at all interactive with audience participation?

Not really for an after-dinner speech but there is a lot of audience participation during the tutored wine tastings.

Do you have any funny/embarrassing speaking anecdotes you care to share?

The worst occasion was in Guernsey, I’d been told there were three speakers on before me at the end of dinner who would be quick. They started speaking at 10.15pm and didn’t finish until 11.15pm! I almost went to sleep!

Your favourite film?

A Good Year with Russell Crowe and Marion Cotillard, it’s all about a City trader who inherits a vineyard in Provence in France, very funny and incredibly good.

Favourite book?

The Snow Goose by Paul Gallico.

Favourite holiday destination?

The Rockies British Columbia Canada.

What’s your tipple?

I love a glass of Argentinian Malbec with a decent steak.

Country or townie?

I was brought up in London but with four children we have moved to Berkshire for the space and garden. I enjoy both.

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