Speaking Out

Sir Stuart Lipton, Chairman, Stanhope Plc Sir Stuart clearly knows his stuff. A commercial property developer for 40 years...

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Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

Sir Stuart clearly knows his stuff. A commercial property developer for 40 years and the man behind the City of London's Broadgate development, he should have been perfect to address the FT's commercial property conference on the theme of 'Stimulating Private Investment for Regeneration'.

But his ideas were buried in a presentation that was dire: PowerPoint slides of dense text and attempts to inject humour with pictorial jokes that just didn't come off - his first slide was of a businessman walking a crocodile across a desert. 'Which of these animals are you?' Lipton asked a bemused audience. His theme was the usual bleat from the world of property: no-one shares their pain; the Government doesn't understand the risks developers have to take; oh, and there should be tax breaks. He told us about the logistics of the Thames Gateway project. 'It will cost £200 billion to fund, and serve 3.5 million people. But where's the money coming from?'

If he'd delivered this with passion, he might have won the audience's sympathy, but they'd left by now - in spirit, at least. He flipped irritatingly through slides and ambled through his material - a long walk in the industrial park that is his specialist knowledge. To close, Lipton told us that this regeneration stuff is hard, that you need big pockets and persistence.Was he trying to put them off the idea? His presentation had already done that.

Key moment: To build Stockley Park, west of London, they'd moved four million cubic metres of soil. One lorry holds seven. 'That's a lot of lorries!'

Key lesson: Even an acknowledged expert has to fillet his or her material.

Silver tongue or Foot in mouth?... Foot in mouth

Khalid Aziz, a visiting professor of business communications at Southampton University, chairs the Aziz Corporation - khalid@azizcorp.com.

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