How to become better as a speaker

Screen Shot 2017-12-11 at 09.50.01

Here is an introduction that a speaker submitted to a client to be read before the speaker went up on stage.

Can you see what is wrong with it?

(I have changed some of the facts to protect the identity of the speaker)


Location: Sheraton, London

Introduction of Mr Speaker by Mr Smith, Senior Partner, Law firm X.

“Mr Speaker is the CEO of the General Inspiration Inc and author of the book “Value Driven Leadership”.

For the past 3 decades Mr Speaker has worked with helping companies develop successful value driven leadership practices. 
When he first began his professional career back in 1980, he worked for two multi-national IT computer firms, first HP, then IBM.

In 2000 he had a breakthrough moment of conscious realization.  Being “comfortably miserable” in his job, in other words, he was making a good salary, but didn’t love what he was doing, Mr Speaker decided a big change was needed. Gathering all his courage, he stepped off the mothership of multi-national financial security, and left the IT Industry. On his journey of self-discovery he found his calling in life, transitioning into a deeply satisfying career as a professional facilitator.

Instead of working with bits and bytes, he now works with values and behaviours, making a difference as a global speaker and thought leader on leadership. His passion is inspiring leaders to reach their full potential building values-driven organizations.
3 years ago Mr speaker took another courageous step in life and moved from Stockholm to London at the request of his old mother, to become an in-person, as opposed to a skype son, to his mother.  Needless to say, we can tell family and adventure are values which mean a great deal to him.”
So what is wrong with this introduction?

Well, all of it …

(Ok, not all of it, but a lot of it)


Because an introduction is not supposed to be an introduction to the SPEAKER, but an introduction to THE SPEECH.

And yes, an introduction should help to build credibility for the speaker so that the audience better understands why they should listen to the speaker, but much more important is the fact that the introduction explains to the audience why the organisers decided to include the upcoming topic at this conference.

That the speaker was miserable in his previous corporate jobs but happy now, risk alienating the audience which is full of people still in corporate life.

That his new career as a facilitator is “deeply satisfying” should be shown, not told. Samt with the fact that his “passion is inspiring leaders”.

The fact that the speaker has moved to take care of his old mother, is cute but has nothing to do with the speech.
Here is how I suggested rewriting it:

“Our next session is on “Value Driven Leadership”, something that is very important for us here at Law firm X, and something that we need to constantly be reminded of, especially after the latest developments in our industry..

We are very happy to have Mr Speaker here to share his views about this topic as he literally wrote the book on the topic.

Mr Speaker is the CEO of the General Inspiration Inc and author of the book “Value Driven Leadership”.
For the past 3 decades Mr Speaker has worked with helping companies develop successful value driven leadership practices.

He will share with us what value driven leadership is, how it can be used to drive reliable growth and which companies are doing it right – and what we can learn from them.

Let’s give him a warm welcome.”
Now the introduction is about the session, while still building credibility for the speaker. And it also builds credibility towards the organiser, by showing that the topic is important for the organiser, ie important for the conference the attendees are attending.

The last sentence about giving the speaker a warm welcome is a subtle but effective way of getting the speaker off to a good start since a warm welcome (even if it is “fabricated” creates a positive affinity towards the speaker.)

So remember, the next time the organisera ask you how they should introduce you reply: “I don’t want you to introduce me, I want you to introduce my speech, and I want you do do that by explaining to the audience what the speech is about, why you selected my to speak on it and why the topic of the speech is important to the audience.”

Screen Shot 2017-12-04 at 12.53.39

In this blog I try to mix the kind of advice I get on becoming a successful keynote speaker, from how to craft a speech, to how to interact with the audience, to how to get more speaking business and so on.

Today I want to talk about something that might seem trivial and small, but as in all professions, the key to a successful speaking career lies in mastering all the small, trivial things.

So today I will talk about how to pick your clothes for your speech.

Today I spoke at the Asia Management Conference of AECOM a very successful company that designs, build, finance and manage huge infrastructure projects like airports, bridges, subways etc.

Since the 2-day conference was in Singapore and since I was speaking on the second day I took the time to go down and meet with the organisers at the end of day 1 to find out how the first day had been. (This “last minute extra brief” is something I highly recommend you do if you speak on the second day, that’s where you can get a feel for what the mood will be the day you speak.)

Before I met with the client I walked around in the ballroom area to get a sense of the audience I was going to speak to. Are they chatty? Do they look stiff or relaxed? Things like that.

And I also looked at what they were wearing.

Turns out almost everyone I met was dressed on black.

So I made a mental note, and today when I picked my suit I picked a black one with a black shirt.

(As you can see from the panel discussion from day 2 this company really likes to dress in black.)

Screen Shot 2017-12-04 at 12.54.15

By dressing like the audience you create a feeling of “us” with the attendees, and that makes it eaiser for them to connect with you, which makes it easier for them to hear your message.

It might seem like a tiny detail to care about, but I am absolutely convinced it helped make the speech a success. If nothing else it reminded me to connect with the audience and build affinity with them.

Perhaps dressing in black to look more like them was something I did more for myself than for them…


(Picture from when I was walking down to the bus stop to take a public bus to work – not every day I, as a global speaker, get to take the bus to work 😉

Screen Shot 2017-11-30 at 16.05.04

Are you serious about  becoming better as a speaker? Here is your chance to really take your speaking career to the next level in an intense but inspiring way.

After being a professional speaker for 20+ years, and after mentoring 100+ speakers and speaking at speaker conventions on 4 continents (soon 5) I have decided – for the first time! – to dedicate myself to teach at full blown speaker retreat where I will teach all I know about professional speaking for 4 days (!) together with the amazing online-marketing expert James Taylor and skilled voice coach  Alison Burns.

I know of no-one who knows more about how to do online-marketing for speakers than James Taylor and to get a chance to spend four days with him is a treat that anyone interested in building a modern speaking career should grab.

For my own part I can promise that I will share everything I know about how to build a career as a global keynote speaker and I really look forward to – for the first time ever – go deep and share extensively what I have learned from building a global speaking career that today have me speaking in 20+ countries per year.

This event comes at a cost, but based on what you get I find it very reasonable. four days on Sicily, including meals and loads and loads of learning.

I have chosen to post the whole event information below. Hope to see you in Italy in May 2018!


How would you like to spend four days on an Italian island crafting your new signature speech, improving your presentation and stage skills, and discovering strategies for getting booked on global stages?

This video has all the details.

Yesterday we began accepting applications for our 1st International Speakers Retreat in Sicily, Italy and we’d love if you would consider joining us.

Our guest speaker coach will be Fredrik Haren, one of the world’s leading keynote speakers. He has shared the stage with Richard Branson, Seth Godin and Sheryl Sandberg and has spoken in more than 60 countries! See below what his students say.

There is one problem however. We only have space for 30 students on this retreat and we’ll begin accepting the first applicants this Friday!

Click here to apply

So whether you’ve been speaking professionally for years or you’re just starting in your speaking career, you’ll be able to immerse yourself in the craft, art and business of speaking over four days at this immersive retreat.

But it gets even better…

Successful applicants will also receive over $2,500 worth of bonuses including our new International Speakers online course, a 1-on-1 coaching session with Fredrik Haren, VIP Passes to two of our online events, plus much much more.

See all the bonuses here.

It’s going to be an amazing four days and nights of learning how to launch, grow and monetize your message as a global keynote speaker.

I hope you decide to join Fredrik, myself and your fellow speakers in Italy.

— James

P.S. Why not have your partner join you in Italy.
We’ve got a special Partner Package just for them.


“Ever since I first saw Fredrik speak 6 years ago, I’ve greatly admired him as a speaker. In our mentoring sessions, the questions he asked, the ideas he shared, the feedback he gave after watching my speech were all stunningly helpful.
In the two weeks following one mentoring session, I had my first standing ovation in Asia (they’re rare in Asia!), and a speech to another client resulted in them booking me for four further talks the same month. His framework of helping speakers to discover their inner theme is profound and transformative.”

– Rob Lilwall

“I had been struggling to find my inner theme for some time. Oh sure, I have my business The Digital Conversationalist, but my inner theme is deeper than that. It’s that core ability I have, and I always believe core abilities are often the hardest thing to see in ourselves. It was amazing having that time with Fredrik, watching him weave his magic. It also gives me greater confidence in the message I am seeking to share.”

– Andrea Edwards

“I want to express my gratitude for the extraordinary value, time and effort that Fredrik took to mentor me. To watch my talks, write notes and share his creative suggestions in the most authentic, helpful and professional way. Fredrik is also an inspiration of the ethics of the speaking profession and how delivering value always trumps marketing.”

– Avi Liran

“Having been through Fredrik’s session I would not only highly recommend it to anyone struggling with the million and one ideas in your head, but even for those of us who think we are sure and we are clear. It is just amazing the light that Fredrik is able to shine on your idea(s). Whether you are a budding SPEAKER or AUTHOR, or one needing clarity on your next big idea, or even if you think you are on the threshold of something HUGE… Fredrik TODAY.”

– Roshini Ganeshan

“I was so passionate towards being a public speaker and specifically a Keynote Speaker. But I did not know how to do it. The 45 minute mentoring session I had with Fredrik opened a new dimension to my life. The questions Fredrik asked, made me think. The tasks that he gave me to improve my passion were simple, but powerful.The words of encouragement by Fredrik made me to immediately jump into action. Thank you so much Fredrik for motivating, inspiring me and making me take an action towards what I love.”

– Narendran Narasimhan
“What I have been trying to do for the last 3 years, Fredrik managed in 35 minutes. In an extremely powerful coaching session he helped me discover my message to the world.
I left the session feeling electric, and super excited about the possibilities! Absolutely unbelievable – and life changing.”

– Theo Davies

“An experienced trainer and coach myself, I was stuck – I felt that my vision had subtly changed over the years until it didn’t fully resonate any more but I couldn’t see the way forward.
Fredrik’s insightful questioning, feedback and never-give-up attitude helped me shift that in just over an hour. He was able to show me a completely different perspective and way of looking at my work and business. This perspective has helped me tremendously in moving forward. So if you haven’t worked with Fredrik before – what are you waiting for?”

– Meenakshi Sarup
“I have been working on my positioning for a long time and felt that I was only halfway… something was missing. I contacted Fredrik for some advise regarding industry trends that could help me with my direction. What I got was an deep experience. He guided me through, to discover my red thread in life and linking it to the inner theme. Having a quite analytical mind, I was of course a bit skeptic directly afterwards, it cannot be that easy.
I mean, I have done so much work on my professional development and taken help from several advisors without getting this far. But I have now had time to reflect, taste it, see how it maps to the way I do things and when I read old notes and articles I have written I can see it shine through. What was unseen is now seen and it has given me a foundation to build my decisions upon which keeps me focused. I can highly recommend Fredrik.”

– Mia Liljeberg


Interested? Sign up here.