Interview with Jasmine Birtles
What do you gain personally from being a public speaker?
There’s a direct response to what I am giving out to the audience which you don’t get in any other way. Being interviewed on TV and radio is always interesting and there are often questions and comments tweeted from viewers while we’re on air, but it’s not the same as the immediate feedback that a live audience gives.
You only know a joke is funny by the laughter and you only know that a fact is staggering from the combined sharp intake of breath from the audience. It’s exhilarating and educational at the same time!
How much does humour factor into your keynotes and other speaking engagements?
It is fundamental. Humour has always been a part of my every day life – it’s basic to the way I communicate with others. I love comedy, jokes and generally seeing the funny side of things and I find it a quick and efficient tool to break down barriers.
I enjoy using humour to engage and teach, especially with subjects that are often dull or frightening like money and business. Sprinkling a little humour through serious topics works with every type of audience.
Do you have a favourite experience from your speaking career?
Doing one of my ‘imposter’ characters for the R3 Ladies’ Lunch. This was the only booking I have had (so far) where I was asked to take my clothes off (!). I had to pretend to be a dull insolvency practitioner who had had too much to drink. I then was to strip off my boring suit (put together with velcro) to reveal a sparkly cocktail dress. Amazingly the strip went smoothly and the act went down a storm (there are excerpts in my comedy showreel).
What inspired you to create Moneymagpie.com?
In 2006 I was writing a book about money which I knew would be partly out of date by the time it was published. I realised that to give people proper up-to-date information every day I should be setting up a website. At that time there were only a few money sites and even fewer of them (i.e. none!) were attractive to women.
I decided to set up a money site that would be attractive to women as well as men and make it one that had an holistic approach to money, showing people how they could make extra cash on the side as well as how to save it. That’s what i did and it has grown ever since. We are now working on an app and a video channel to extend the site’s reach and utility.
Which of your money saving tips is your favourite and why?
“Get as much as you can for free!” It’s what I do and I know there are lots of things out there that we can get for free including free meals through mystery shopping, free holidays through house-swapping, free furniture and electronics through Freecycle and more.
You are a successful author. What sources of creativity do you draw from when writing a book?
I think that ideas are infinite and available to everyone. It’s not so much that I have to search inside myself for the ideas, they are all around and can be accessed in different ways by all of us, often simply by being very quiet and listening! With joke books and comedy scripts I often have to write in one-hour chunks and then do something different before coming back to the writing for another hour session.
The factual books, articles and speeches tend to need a structure first before I fill in the different sections. Sometimes I hire a researcher to help with facts and figures so that I can get on with the process of writing.