Chris Davidson


This is the only part of this site where I talk about me - and that's in direct response to clients who've wanted to know more of the back story behind Chris Davidson. Here it is: 

Prior to starting my own business in 2002 and thereby branching out on to the ‘road less travelled’, my journey could be described as similar to many other well-educated, middle-class Brits. I’m a professional engineer who served as a senior manager with some of the world’s most prestigious high-tech companies in the aviation, telecommunications and IT industries. 

In more than 20 years of corporate life, I lost count of the number of times I was bored to tears by truly terrible presentations, delivered by people who really ought to have known how to perform on stage and who clearly had no clue.

I came to realise that while their incompetence was their responsibility, they weren’t really to blame. All they were guilty of was following the largely inadequate examples set by their predecessors and superiors.

Something had to be done, so I set myself on a course to right the wrongs I’d observed. I rather grandly gave myself the vision of: 

“Saving the world from mediocre communication”

I established Active Presence as a niche communications consultancy in 2002 and continue to work with companies large and small, helping them get their messages across and be more competitive in their markets.

Trust and passion in business

Commerce relies on there being buyers and sellers. Buyers only buy for one of two reasons.

  1. They are either moving towards pleasure, or...
  2. ...away from pain.

The greater the pleasure or pain, the more passion the buyer will have for what he or she seeks. 

As a seller, you have to match your buyer’s passion. Too often I’ve seen people who are ready to buy take their business elsewhere because they felt the sales person didn’t care enough.

I’ve discovered that life is simply more fun if you pack it with passion — and there are only two reasons to be in business: fun or profit.

Gone are the days when communication was by telephone or letter, or telegram for special occasions. The dramatic increase in the ease and number of ways with which people can communicate has been matched by their desire to do so, regardless of content.

The amount of babble and waffle in the world has increased hugely. It acts as noise, suppressing the valuable messages vital to the progress of commerce. People waste a lot of time and effort cutting through all the junk, looking for the real stuff. 

Think of all the presentations, e-mails, books, PDF files and websites you review each week. For your message to stand out head and shoulders above the rest, you have to structure it well. Well-structured messages: 

  • are easier to comprehend, 
  • are more likely to be acted on,
  • stand out so much better from the surrounding mediocrity.

The impact of language

I’ve lived and worked overseas and used to manage a team with staff in New York, London, Paris, Geneva and Hong Kong. I know a lot about the cultural challenges in communications and I enjoy working with people from different countries, helping them craft their messages for maximum impact. 

Language is clearly a potential barrier to effective communication, although the spread of the internet is reinforcing the role of English as the dominant language of business. The size of the English language causes some difficulty here. British English has around 500,000 words while German (for example) has around 300,000. If you’re a native German speaker, you are faced with a larger vocabulary when you convert your message into English. I have many international clients who love picking my brains about English vocabulary.

The multiple generation gaps

Biological generations and developments in technology used to be approximately in step with each other. However, the pace of technological development has accelerated at such a rate that nowadays several major developments occur within one biological generation. If you define a generation by the predominate technology it grew up with, as opposed to the age of its constituents, it’s quite possible to have several technological generations within one biological generation. This can lead to stressful or confused communication and something you need think about when presenting. Instead of having a couple of generations in your audience, you might have four, or maybe five.     

I earn my living as an inspirational business speaker and consultant, and a performance coach specialising in communication - and I love every minute of it. It’s a joy to see senior managers at organisations such as Ernst & Young, Virgin, Mercer and Rockwell Collins present inspiring, articulate, well-structured and passionate business messages.

You can contact me directly from this site, so please do get in touch.

Chris Davidson