Author: Fredrik Haren

Screen Shot 2018-06-09 at 00.51.32

The conference I was speaking at in Paris yesterday got a bit delayed which meant my speech ended a bit later than planned. Then there were more traffic than I had anticipated to get to the airport in Paris so when I finally got to the airport it was 5 minutes left until boarding started (and I still had to get through security etc).

Luckily I had printed out my boarding card so it was ok to arrive at the airport 30 minutes AFTER check-in had closed. But that meant that my bag could not make it.

I asked my driver to take the bag back with him to my Paris hotel and grabbed my carry-on to rush through security to get to my flight.

What is the lesson here?

If you are going to check in luggage make sure that all the things you need for your speech is in your carry on.  A bag is just a bag and DHL can get it to you later. But you have to make that speech. And that means you have to make that flight – even if you have to leave your bag behind.

This post written when I am happily arrived in Malta.

(PS. Yes, there was a back-up flight that would have been able to take me to Malta in time for my speech today, but that would have had me on flights more or less all night and taken me to Tunisia for the connection to Malta which would have meant sleeping on planes and airports and arriving in Malta 1 hour before the flight, so not a very desirable Plan B, better than to leave the bag behind and get on that flight without it.)

 

 

Share
Screen Shot 2018-05-31 at 14.38.24

I did not do any speeches this week, instead I went on a one week vacation with my wife to San Fransisco to visit family, friends and to attend a wedding of a good friend.

I might not have been working, but I took any chance I could get to become better as a speaker.

An example: While in San Francisco me and my wife decided to go to Oaklanda stand-up performance with the cult comedian Sinbad.

I also attended the final game between the Golden State Warriors and Houston Rockets in the Oracle Arena. Well, technically the game was in Houston but the whole stadium in Oakland was full with fans who wanted to watch the game on the big screen jumbotron TV.

Screen Shot 2018-05-31 at 14.47.57

Watching Sinbad do his stand-up routine I was reminded about things like:

  • the importance of looking like you enjoy being on stage.
  • the power of improvised storytelling
  • the value of engaging with the audience in a non-threatening way.

Watching a basketball game in a sold-out stadium where there was no team playing (!) I was shown the power of how the surroundings around the main event (be it – like in this case – a basketball game, or in my case, a speech).

It was fascinating to see how the audience would scream, cheer and boo even as neither team was there to hear it. It felt – almost – like being at the actual game.

(On this trip I also came up with what will, perhaps, be the theme for my next book, while sleeping in in our hotel room one day.)

As professional speakers we have a lot of time of, ie time when we are not speaking. (I am guessing the average professional speaker makes 70-150 speeches per year leaving close to 200-300 days in a year when we are NOT speaking…)

But if we want to be on top of our game we have to think about speaking every single day. That is one of the things I love with this job: that we get so much time over to live a life we want, yet can spend so much time developing ourselves in the area – speaking – that we are passionate about.

The best of both worlds. Not just work-life balance. But work-life harmony.

 

Share
Screen Shot 2018-05-22 at 12.29.29

The pictures in this blog posts are for two speeches that I have done in the last month or so.

One from a classic old hotel in Rome for a speech for Visa’s clients from EMEA.
And the other one from the iconic Waldorf Astoria on the Bund in Shanghai a few days ago where I spoke to the top managers at the global management conference of Permira.

Both conferences had about 200 attendees (which means they were not a very large conference) and both conferences had substituted the traditional backdrop for a LED-wall stretching the full length of the big stage.

Big LED-walls are of course not something new, but they used to be used only for big conferences with 500-1000 people in the audience because of the cost of setting them up.

I am writing this post because at both the Visa conference and the Permira conference the event managers joyfully told me: “The cost of getting a LED-wall was virtually the same as to get a traditional backdrop”.

I guess that means that we speakers have to get much more used to speaking in front of an LED-wall. (And as a speaker I can see that happening: In the last 6 speeches I have done 3 had LED-walls and 3 had printed back-drops.)

So what is the difference, you say? Not a huge one, but a few things to think about:

1) Less chance that the laser-pointer will work (the light on the laser pointer is just not strong enough to show up on the LED-wall) so if you are going to pinpoint something on stage be sure you have an alternative way of doing it.

2) More light behind you (so make sure you do not only do a sound-check, but also a light-check, especially if you are using a flip-chart where it becomes very important that the light facing the stage is strong enough)

3) If you are not using slides: Make sure you have a background picture that re-inforces your message, or that you at least approve of the back-ground picture they will be showing during your speech (Like in the picture to the left where they threw up a huge picture of the Chinese Wall behind the panelists, if you are panelist you would like to know that beforehand.)

4) If you are using slides: Ask to see the back-ground framing-picture that will be used around your slides (your slides will be “picture-in-picture” on a much bigger picture, be sure you know what that picture is. (I guess I am saying, do not only do a sound-check and light-check but also a “background check” 😉

5) Especially notice if there are any animations happening in the background picture and decide if you want the background to be animated or not (most of the time they will have an animated background as well as a static background. Personally I would choose the static background DURING the speech, and let the animations happen between speakers.)

6) If it is a big conference, or if you find out about the LED-wall early enough to make changes to your slides, check if the client wants you to leave the “safety” powerpoint slide and instead want you to go for the slide-deck that shows up on the full wall. (So add that question about “what kind of technology will be used for the backdrop?” to your briefing call list of questions.)

7) Realise that our audiences is quickly getting used to huge, animated, lit up stages – even for small conferences – and that puts different demands (and expectations) on us as speakers. No, it doesn’t mean we HAVE to have flashy animations in our speeches, but it does mean that audiences will expect it more and more.

That’s my thoughts on professional speaking this week based on what inspired me the last few days.

Share