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Marsh, 85, shares his keys to success in new book

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Author Mike Marsh (Photograph by Jessie Moniz Hardy)
Mike Marsh has a new book out, The Key to Success in Public Speaking (Photograph by Jessie Moniz Hardy)

In 1977, looking to drum up investors in his company, Mike Marsh hit the seminar circuit.

Having never done much public speaking the thought of doing it in front of audiences of hundreds of people terrified him but, with Troy Associates on the line, he got to work.

“Every speaker has a nervous habit,” Mr Marsh said. “Mine was jingling the coins in my pocket. It drove people crazy.”

Eventually, he figured out how to tell a little story at the beginning and draw his audience in. Public speaking courses with Dale Carnegie helped. He also took notes whenever there was a good speaker at the conferences he attended in financial centres around the world.

As a result, he couldn’t help but notice the really bad ones at home in Bermuda.

“I am always looking, for my own satisfaction, at what the politicians are doing wrong,” he said. “The answer is usually a number of things. They come up with long-winded statistics; they rely on visual aids.”

He told one politician: "Look alive! You need to get some fire in your belly.”

To another he said: “Stop reading from your notes; it’s boring.”

Bothered by a radio announcer’s diction, Mr Marsh suggested he make a recording of his voice. The man took heed and is now a well-known DJ.

The politicians were not as keen.

“One of them never spoke to me again,” the 85-year-old said.

“I am not saying I know it all, but I’m just saying everyone needs to listen to themselves.”

He lays it all out in his book, The Key to Success in Public Speaking, which is now on sale at the Bermuda Book Store.

“I said to my wife, Sandy, I would like to write this book to help people improve themselves in an important field that is underestimated,” he said. “This book is to help Bermudians find success in an international atmosphere. This is a matter of communication, more than just speaking from the stage.”

One mistake people make is to look down while speaking; their most important points are then lost.

Reading out the entire speech is another no-no.

“It is boring,” he said. “People’s ability to remember is just a few minutes in today’s world.”

His tips include remembering to smile, and putting a little dramatic pause in the speech before releasing some important zinger. To help with the jitters, he suggested trying Indian head massage a few days before.

He finds the acupressure massage of the head, face, neck and shoulders invigorating.

Mr Marsh was born in London, England but moved to Bermuda when he was three. His father Gordon worked for the Eastern Telegraph Company which later became Cable & Wireless.

The Second World War erupted a year after they arrived. Mr Marsh’s mother, Eileen, enthusiastically collected scrap metal to be turned into warships and planes.

“My mother became known as Tin Can Annie,” Mr Marsh said. “She would be collecting tins in coffee sacks on her bicycle for the war effort. She was also watching for German submarines.”

Three years later the family moved on to Jamaica and then Portugal. At 14 he was back in Bermuda and enrolled at Saltus Grammar School where he played centre-half on the football team.

His mother taught him to play tennis and, in 1953, he was named a Triple Crown junior champion.

“I was thrilled,” he said. “I had won a championship.”

At 17, he had the chance to play at Junior Wimbledon in England. Although the match was close, he did not win.

Mr Marsh then joined Masters Limited during the week; he worked as a marine police officer on the weekends.

“The Bermuda Police Force had a 42ft cabin cruiser,” he said. “We hardly did anything, but it had a police flag and we felt very important.”

At 22 he was granted Bermuda status and went to work for Kitson & Company.

“I got my insurance degree in 1961,” he said. “Kitson & Company sent me to train with Lloyd’s of London. I came back and ran their marine insurance, aircraft, and ships department for 12 years.”

Married, with four children, he decided to go out on his own in 1970.

“I decided I would go into money management, not knowing anything about it. But you have to do what you have to do. I had met all these very good money managers.”

Mr Marsh based himself in Geneva, Switzerland. In 1993, he had 90 clients and was doing very well when disaster struck.

“I got this call from the trustees saying the money is not there,” he said. “I can still feel the goose pimples remembering it.”

It turned out that he and his clients had been the victims of a major fraud. After a protracted legal battle against a major European bank and auditing company he won his case and got his clients money back with interest.

In 2000, by the time it was all over, he was ready for retirement.

“I learnt quite a lot through that seven-year nightmare,” he said. “When I was away I could think of nothing else but Bermuda.”

Five years later he took on another fight, Bermudians for Referendum. At the time the Progressive Labour Party was pushing for independence through election; Mr Marsh disagreed and started a petition.

“I got 53 per cent of the electorate to sign,” he said.

It was through that experience he connected with his current wife Sandy. They had known each other socially for years but became a couple after she got behind his campaign.

They married on October 6, 2006 in Dorset, England.

“It was the third marriage for both of us,” Mrs Marsh said. “Every day is wonderful.”

Writing is a form of relaxation for Mr Marsh. He released his first book, How to Invest Offshore Successfully, in 1986.

In his retirement he has written 15 books for children revolving around a host of characters he calls the Purple Grumblies that he created for his eight grandchildren.

In 2015 he published the nonfiction book, The Defining Story of Bermuda’s Great Gunpowder Plot 1775, to right some misconceptions about the historic event.

“I write about subjects that interested me, or which I had some experience and which I hoped would help other people,” Mr Marsh said.

He is now working on a book about the Swiss democratic system, which he thinks could be an example to other countries such as Bermuda.

He has four children - Nikki Riker, Michelle Herbert and twins, Philip and Andrew Marsh.

Lifestyle profiles the island’s senior citizens every Wednesday. Contact Jessie Moniz Hardy on 278-0150 or with the full name and contact details and the reason you are suggesting them

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Published June 30, 2021 at 8:00 am (Updated July 01, 2021 at 8:03 am)

Marsh, 85, shares his keys to success in new book

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