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This is a post about the end of a speech. But let me start from the beginning.

Today 3000 people from 60 different countries met at the KL Convention Centre for the Global Entrepreneurship Community Conference. It was a very ambitious conference meant to inspire entrepreneurship in Malaysia and beyond. It was opened by the Prime Minister of Malaysia and the organisers had flown in some world class speakers from around the world: including Mike Walsh and Jon Duschinsky.

I am speaking tomorrow, but today I was just attending the conference to listen and learn about entrepreneurship, but also to watch other speakers speak.

And the takeaway for me today was the technique of ending your speech with energy.

Both Mike and Jon are high energy speakers, but it was interesting to see how they both had prepared an ending that was even MORE energetic, and which included playing background music while they finished off their speeches.

Ending a speech like that makes the speech more like a performance, reminding me of how musicals often end with a high energy, up-beat musical number to get the audience on their feet for the ending.

Turning your speech into a “performance” can be dangerous. It risks turning the audience against you with a feeling of “I did not come here for a show” or “This is too rehearsed”.

But done right, it infuses a lot of energy into the room.

Personally I prefer to end a speech based on the energy I feel the audience has, i.e. to customise the ending based on where I feel the audience is. (And then a pre-prepared musical number might make that more difficult, so I do not use music for my endings.)

But I was today reminded about the importance to leave some room for increasing the energy at the end of a speech.

It is so easy to think of the ending as: “Oh, thank God, I made it to the end…”

Instead think of the ending as the end of a tight 800 meter race and how you need to sprint at the end to win.

Lesson: Save some energy during the bulk of your speech so that you can “spring” to the finish line.

The End.

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Speaker war story about how to handle being sick when being a speaker.

I have been a little under the weather on and off for the last few months.. The funny thing is that it has been coming and going and always when I feel I am getting better, I became worse again. I guess it is a mixture of “airplane flu” from flying a lot and of “kindergarten flu” from having two kids bringing home all kinds of germs from their classmates

But generally it has not slowed me down. But a while back I was hit by something else.

I boarded the plane tofeeling a bit sick. On the plane I started to feel worse.

The first leg of my journey was an agonising 8 hours journey from hell with a blistering headaches that no migraine medicine had any effect on.

On the second leg I started to feel even worse.

I must have looked really sick as 5 (!) different crew members approached me to check if I was ok and one of them even came running with a thermometer – that happened to show that I had not only a bad migraine but also 38.7 C fever.

For the whole 15 hour duration of my trip (including transfers) from Singapore to Europe I must have slept 13 hours.

When I arrived t my destination the night before my speech the crew had prepared a wheel chair (!) for me as I exited the plane.

My male pride prevented my from accepting it – but after walking, what felt like 5 km of airport corridors I started to regret that choice.

When checked into my hotel room I went straight to bed and continued to sleep.

Then it got worse.

I woke up in the middle of the night by my bed being SOAKED in sweat (we are talking wet as in being dropped into a bathtub) And not only one side of the bed, but both sides of the queens size bed …

I got up and got some big towels to lie on to sleep on something dry.

A few hours later I had to get up again and get a new set of towels.

I was scheduled to speak at 9 am. and due to do a sound check at 7 am.

Amazingly, I woke up at 6.30 feeling 100% ready to go!

I got ready, did my sound check and delivered a speech that the audience and the client was very happy with.

How does that happen?

I still do not know.

Like i wrote in a recent blog post, it seems like the body is “aware” of when it can be sick – and when it has to function.
I am very happy it all worked out great yet again.

Lesson:

Being a professional speaker is a privileged profession. When we are not on stage our work is extremely flexible and we can choose to take off time in the middle of the day to pick up our kids from school, go see a lunch-time-movie – or go take a nap for a few hours because we are feeling tired.

But when we are scheduled to be on stage we better all fired up to perform.

That means we have to really learn to master the art of saving, channeling and focusing our energy.

I am very, very glad that I was able to do that on my recent trip to Europe. A trip that had me at 1% energy for 20 hours of travelling – and at 100% energy for that one hour I was on stage. (Then it went back to 10% energy again flying home…)

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If a stand-up comedian wants feedback on his or her routine he/she can ask people in the audience, or he can ask another comedian.

The feedback will be quite different.

If a musician asks an audience member for feedback, or a fellow musician, again the feedback will be quite different.

And if a movie director ask a bunch of movie goers about how to make a movie better he or she will get totally different feedback than if the question goes to fellow movie directors.

The feedback from the peers will be deeper, more specific and on a different level. Expert talking to expert will generate expert feedback.

That is why I am so surprised why not more speakers ask other speakers for feedback.

I try to do it as often as I can.

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Today I did it in Taipei, Taiwan where I was speaking at the he Asia Pacific Conference for the Association for Talent Development. A few days ago I found out that a speaker friend of mine, Coen Tan, was going to attend my speech and he wrote to on Facebook “I will get a front seat”. I thanked him but asked him to instead take a seat in the very BACK of the room. Because if you sit in the back of the room you can evaluate not only the speaker, but also the reactions of the audience.

I then asked Coen to observe my speech and take notes.

After the speech we sat down in a café and Coen gave his perspective on my content, my delivery and my message.

He had some very good ideas around how I could rephrase a few of my stories for more impact. Ideas that I definitely will implement.

Hearing his comments it was so clear how different feedback from a fellow speaker is from feedback from “normal” audience members.

It is my experience that non-speaker-feedback tends to be very positive (“Oh, it was amazing!) or focused on something negative: “You said X, and did not like that” or “You do Y and it annoyed me.”.

It is my experience that speaker feedback is more focused on small improvements and suggestions on how to tweak and change the speech, the stories or the delivery to make it even better.

A non-speaker comes from the perspective: “I as an audience like/did not like X.”

A fellow speaker comes from the perspective: “If this was my speech I would do X.”

That makes speaker feedback more constructive.

Lesson: So the next time you get a chance to have a fellow speaker in the audience, grab him or her and ask them to help you make your speech better.

Feed on feedback.