No, the title of the post is not a typo. Llanfair­pwllgwyngyll­gogery­chwyrn­drobwll­llan­tysilio­gogo­goch is the name of a village in northwest Wales. At 58 letters, it is the longest officially recognized place name in the United Kingdom and one of the longest in the world.

I have seen slightly different translations of the Welsh name into English, but the most common is “Saint Mary’s Church in the hollow of the white hazel near a rapid whirlpool and the Church of St. Tysilio of the red cave.” And Shakespeare asked, “What’s in a name?”

It certainly is a mouthful, but for Liam Dutton, a weatherman with Channel 4 in the UK, it’s no trouble at all.

Well done, Liam. His cool rendition of Llanfair … of the name … has turned him into an internet celebrity. And he has given us an important lesson.

When you have the responsibility to introduce people, make sure that you know the proper pronunciation of their names. That goes for place names, company names and any proper name.

Check with people who know. On the day of the event, arrive early  and confirm any difficult pronunciations with the people whom you will be introducing. If a name is particularly challenging, print it out phonetically on your notes. You owe it to those whom you are introducing to get it right.

I once moderated a panel discussion following the Continental European premiere of the documentary Out to Win. The names of the three people on the panel were not straightforward names for a native English speaker. I made sure to check with the organizers and also with each panel member before the event.

So do your homework. It’s the professional and courteous thing to do. The people whom you introduce and the audience will appreciate it.

As for Llanfair­pwllgwyngyll­gogery­chwyrn­drobwll­llan­tysilio­gogo­goch, at 58 letters, it is still dwarfed by the record holder, this 85-letter monster from New Zealand: Taumatawhakatangihangakoauauotamateaturipukakapikimaunga-horonukupokaiwhenuakitanatahu.

In Maori, it means “The summit where Tamatea, the man with the big knees, the climber of mountains, the land-swallower who travelled about, played his nose flute to his loved one.”

Almost as long as the train platform itself.

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  1. Great post! Always good to be bi- tri -or quatro lingual, then it is easier to pronounce foreign names.
    By the way: English is the only language where the A is pronounced ae like Emeritus.

    A in all other languages is pronounced like Avocado, Arcade, Argument

  2. Dear John,

    You may remember me. I am that attorney now living in Las Vegas, NV. I saw the BBC weatherman’s original broadcast and was duly impressed. I had not guessed at the use of a typical Welsh “guttural” sound in the pronunciation. It reminded me of the Edith Piaf and Jacques Brel rear tongue “growl” sound they sometimes brought to their singing poetry. Language meets and greets the Mouth.

    I guess I was “public speaking” when I lectured some young people on their inherent ability of spell and write. Tactics already possessed and just needed to use in order to break the code of anything that appeared too “opaque,” if only though its shear length. [How was that for a long rambling sentence]. I explained how to break down: Pneumono­ultra­microscopicsilico-volcanoconiosis into “bite-sized” pieces.
    Otherwise, I have been using a number of your suggestions with both juries and bankers. Talk about tough audiences. The 10 minute/2 minute rest pacing and a “personalized leaving message” have been particularly helpful and effective.

    Being an architect, also. I have been providing an 11″ x 17″ “architectural styled drawing of my presentation points as a take away. It even has a typical “title block” at the lower right hand side. Now, all I need is an red circular “Approved Stamp.” Apologies for all the “quotation marks.”

    I trust this finds you and your family doing well.



    1. Anderson, great to hear from you. Thanks for the detailed message. Glad that you are finding the blog helpful. Having practiced law for many years, I can imagine how welcome your legal arguments must be to judges who are probably used to hearing something more mundane. A legal argument in court is a form of public speaking like any other and there are things that speakers (i.e., lawyers) can and should do to get their points across more memorably and convincingly.

      All the best going forward and many thanks for the kind contribution to the blog. It is appreciated.

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John delivered a keynote address about the importance of public speaking to 80 senior members of Gore’s Medical Device Europe team at an important sales event. He was informative, engaging and inspirational. Everyone was motivated to improve their public speaking skills. Following his keynote, John has led public speaking workshops for Gore in Barcelona and Munich. He is an outstanding speaker who thinks carefully about the needs of his audience well before he steps on stage.

Karsta Goetze

TA Leader, Gore and Associates

I first got in touch with John while preparing to speak at TED Global about my work on ProtonMail. John helped me to sharpen the presentation and get on point faster, making the talk more focused and impactful. My speech was very well received, has since reached almost 1.8 million people and was successful in explaining a complex subject (email encryption) to a general audience.

Andy Yen

CEO, Proton Technologies

John gave the opening keynote on the second day of our unit’s recent offsite in Geneva, addressing an audience of 100+ attendees with a wealth of tips and techniques to deliver powerful, memorable presentations. I applied some of these techniques the very next week in an internal presentation, and I’ve been asked to give that presentation again to senior management, which has NEVER happened before. John is one of the greatest speakers I know and I can recommend his services without reservation.

David Lindelöf

Senior Data Scientist, Expedia Group

After a morning of team building activities using improvisation as the conduit, John came on stage to close the staff event which was organised in Chamonix, France. His energy and presence were immediately felt by all the members of staff. The work put into the preparation of his speech was evident and by sharing some his own stories, he was able to conduct a closing inspirational speech which was relevant, powerful and impactful for all at IRU. The whole team left feeling engaged and motivated to tackle the 2019 objectives ahead. Thank you, John.

Umberto de Pretto

Secretary General, World Road Transport Organization

I was expecting a few speaking tips and tricks and a few fun exercises, but you went above and beyond – and sideways. You taught me to stand tall. You taught me to anchor myself. You taught me to breathe. You taught me to open up. You taught me to look people in the eye. You taught me to tell the truth. You taught me to walk a mile in someone else’s shoes. I got more than I bargained for in the best possible way.

Thuy Khoc-Bilon

World Cancer Day Campaign Manager, Union for International Cancer Control

John gave a brilliant presentation on public speaking during the UN EMERGE programme in Geneva (a two days workshop on leadership development for a group of female staff members working in the UN organizations in Geneva). His talk was inspirational and practical, thanks to the many techniques and tips he shared with the audience. His teaching can dramatically change our public speaking performance and enable us as presenters to have a real and powerful impact. Thank you, John, for your great contribution!

Sara Canna

HR Specialist, World Health Organization

John is a genuine communication innovator. His seminars on gamification of public speaking learning and his interactive Rhetoric game at our conference set the tone for change and improvement in our organisation. The quality of his input, the impact he made with his audience and his effortlessly engaging style made it easy to get on board with his core messages and won over some delegates who were extremely skeptical as to the efficacy of games for learning. I simply cannot recommend him highly enough.

Thomas Scott

National Education Director, Association of Speakers Clubs UK

John joined our Global Sales Meeting in Segovia, Spain and we all participated in his "Improv(e) your Work!" session. I say “all” because it really was all interactive, participatory, learning and enjoyable. The session surprised everybody and was a fresh-air activity that brought a lot of self-reflection and insights to improve trust and confidence in each other inside our team. It´s all about communication and a good manner of speaking!"

Jon Lopez

General Manager Europe, Hayward Industries

Thank you very much for the excellent presentation skills session. The feedback I received was very positive. Everyone enjoyed the good mix of listening to your speech, co-developing a concrete take-away and the personal learning experience. We all feel more devoted to the task ahead, more able to succeed and an elevated team spirit. Delivering this in a short time, both in session and in preparation, is outstanding!

Henning Dehler

CFO European Dairy Supply Chain & Operations, Danone

Thanks to John’s excellent workshop, I have learned many important tips and techniques to become an effective public speaker. John is a fantastic speaker and teacher, with extensive knowledge of the field. His workshop was a great experience and has proven extremely useful for me in my professional and personal life.

Eric Thuillard

Senior Sales Manager, Sunrise Communications

John’s presentation skills training was a terrific investment of my time. I increased my skills in this important area and feel more comfortable when speaking to an audience. John provided the right mix between theory and practice.

Diego Brait

Director of the Jura Region, BKW Energie AG

Be BOLD. Those two words got stuck in my head and in the heads of all those ADP leaders and associates that had the privilege to see John on stage. He was our keynote speaker at our annual convention in Barcelona, and his message still remains! John puts his heart in every word. Few speakers are so credible, humble and yet super strong with large audiences!

Guadalupe Garcia

Senior Director and Talent Partner, ADP International