An Interview with Perry McCarthy (The Original Stig)
What are the most asked for topics?
With regards to an after-dinner speech the responsibility is to keep the guests laughing, interested and entertained. Regarding motivational speeches, I cross reference a wide range of my experiences in to the client requirement. Some examples of topics are: teamwork, determination, dedication, success, the power of the individual, high performance, dealing with change, communication, risk and decision-making.
How did the corporate speaking start?
I had climbed the international ladder of motor racing with very little money and by the time I reached the pinnacle of the sport, Formula One, I was broke and even needed to cover my travel and accommodation expenses for Grand Prix. Various motor racing tour operators, who knew of my story and sense of humour, asked me to speak with their guests at races in exchange for covering these expenses. Word spread from there.
Can you remember your first speaking engagement?
Not really, but it would have been at a previous Formula One Grand Prix.
And, your last event?
My last event was an after-dinner speech for an international pharmaceutical company.
Which event has been your favourite and why?
I really enjoy giving after-dinner or motivational speeches so there really isn’t a favourite event. However, I do enjoy events in a warm climate! My genuine aim is to give the client and their guests a great performance. My training as a racing driver has left me always wanting to develop, to be better, and that’s why I so often write new material and practise it and my delivery over and over. These days, I memorise all my performances. I think notes can sometimes make a speaker look a little amateur.
On average, how many times a year do you speak at corporate events?
Between 40 – 70.
Are you as happy speaking to 50 as to 1,000 people?
How do you like to be introduced?
I have an introduction which is short and serves both myself and the client well. The ending allows me to transition into a strong series of gags/sketches which allows me get the audience onside straight away.
Do you always like to do a briefing call before the event?
I’m not too worried about briefing calls for my after-dinner appearances, but, I do think they are essential for any motivational speeches. It allows me to fully understand the client’s main aims and objectives. Further, if I am to host an event as an MC, I also like to meet the client/event company as there is generally even more to understand with regards to running order, timings and AV requirements.
Is your speech at all interactive with audience participation?
If it fits with the client’s requirement and timings, the audience and I enjoy a question and answer session (which I can mediate personally).
Do you have any funny/embarrassing speaking anecdotes you care to share?
I do sometimes burst out laughing during a Q&A session if someone has asked a ridiculous question! However, I love those moments because I will tease and banter with the questioner and the audience has a great time with it.
Your favourite film?
So many, but just a few that come to mind: As Good As It Gets, Arthur, Bedazzled (original) and Le Mans.
Mine of course! ‘Flat Out Flat Broke’. I like Frederick Forsythe’s books and I also enjoy interesting biographies.
Favourite holiday destination?
South of France
What’s your tipple?
White wine or lager ... but no more than one glass before I speak at an event. Afterwards, great! I enjoy sharing a few glasses with the client and their guests
Country or townie?
I couldn’t be without either. I live in the country but work or socialise in town.
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