At the Finance Directors' Forum, Trevor Baylis was billed as 'inventor and showman'. His inventions are well-known - his clockwork radio brought communications to thousands in the developing world - but how would a 65-year-old maverick, looking like the scruffy inventor he is, play to a besuited audience of FDs? From his opening quote, 'Only dead fish swim with the tide', they loved him, lapping up bons mots such as: 'There are no pockets in a shroud' and 'chance favours the prepared mind'.
Riding the crest of success, Baylis side-swiped those who had thwarted him in the past. A worldwide patent can cost pounds 28,000 - yet you remain at the mercy of any big company wanting to steal it. Baylis listed inventors through the ages stymied and misunderstood by the powers that be: Sir Christopher Cockerell, inventor of the hovercraft, never made a penny from his invention and died a disappointed man.
But far from being a catalogue of woe, there was a point to his presentation.
Baylis wants to help other budding inventors with his foundation that protects their ideas and offers the support they need to bring their brainchildren to market. He appealed to his audience to help bring it to fruition.
Key moment: An august engineer advised Baylis that rather than clockwork he should use a thermocouple for his radio which works off body heat, particularly that of the groin region. Baylis interpreted this as shoving it where the sun doesn't shine!
Key lesson: Tell it like it is, and don't be afraid to shock.
Silver tongue or foot in mouth? Silver tongue.