Life of a professional speaker

Screen Shot 2017-06-21 at 02.48.17

“You just work one hour and then you are done?! Boy you are lucky!”

People who hear I make a living being a professional speaker are often amazed by how we speakers can have as a job to speak for 60 minutes.

And it is true, the job of being a professional speaker is in many way a blessed profession.

And yes, we do have a lot of time off.

But that “one hour of speaking” is often surrounded by a lot of other things.

Let me give you a run-down of the last 40 hours.


03:45  AM – Wake up and row from my island to the main land

Screen Shot 2017-06-21 at 02.48.54

04.00 AM – Jump into taxi to airport.

04:45 AM – Taxi gets a flat tire and I have to get another taxi

05:00 AM – Check in at airport in Stockholm

06:15 AM – Plane leaves Stockholm for Munich.

Screen Shot 2017-06-21 at 02.49.06

08:00 AM – Being picked up my event company at Munich Airport

Screen Shot 2017-06-21 at 02.49.13


09:00 AM – Arrive at the BMW test driving site (where I am speaking on Tuesday)

09:00 – 10:00 AM – Get to know client and venue

11 – 12 AM – Do a test run of my full speech for the client and the crew

12 AM – Jump into a borrowed car to drive back to airport in Munich.

1 PM – Check in for flight to Warsaw.

1 PM – 2 PM – have lunch

2.40 PM – Board flight from Munich to Warsaw.

Screen Shot 2017-06-21 at 02.53.43

5 PM Land in Warsaw (plane a bit delayed)

5.30 PM – Arrive by hotel car at Intercontinental in Warsaw.

Screen Shot 2017-06-21 at 02.48.17

5:30 – 6 PM – Shower and check in to hotel room

6 PM – Go down to event space and install computer and talk to client.

6.30 – Event starts (I listen to the other speakers)


8 – 9 PM – Join client for dinner

9.30 – Go to sleep.


4 AM – wake up and take quick shower

4:15 AM – Taxi picks me up for airport

5 AM – Arrive in Warsaw airport and check in

5:30 AM – have breakfast at airport

6 AM – Board plane from Warsaw back to Munich.

8 AM – Land in Munich

8:30 – 9 AM – Drive to BMW text drive site

Screen Shot 2017-06-21 at 02.53.24

9 – 10 AM Check in with client

10 – 12 AM Event starts (I listen to BMW internal speakers)

12 AM – 1 PM have lunch and do last minute sound check


2 PM – 3 PM – Listen to the other speakers and give some feedback to client.

3 PM – drive back to hotel in Munich

4 PM – check in, take shower.

Rest of evening is free time.

So in 36 hours I spoke for clients for a total of 2 hours. But it’s not like I was not keeping busy…

Now I should be checking emails, etc, but instead I decided to write this blog.

I hope it shows an “behind the scenes summary” of what the life of a global professional speaker is really like: A bit of speaking, a bit more working with and learning from clients – but most of all: a lot of traveling.

Sweden-Germany-Poland-Germany in less than 30 hours… (And if you think this schedule sounds a bit too tights, be informed that the client in Poland was aware of the tight connection (and would be flexible with my starting time for my speech had I been more delayed), and for the speech in Germany I had a “back up flight” had my first flight been cancelled, so all good.)

Screen Shot 2017-05-23 at 17.56.30

Today I bent down to help carry a box of books that my client had bought and ripped my pants through the whole groin area -we are talking a 30 cm hole at least…
Here is the worst part of the story: it was 15 minutes before my speech was scheduled to begin and at 10 am (= before shops open in Singapore). And venue was 20 minutes away from my home so could not send for new pants…). Luckily I had an extra pair of pants in my suitcase since I was flying to Shanghai later in the day…
Had I not had that I might have had to deliver my speech with my jacket over my bum… or while wearing a strangers pants, or made my clients move the speech by 20 minutes (all options doable but not perfect).
But now everything turned out fine.
I am telling you this story to show how the speaking business is really one of the least complicated or difficult businesses to be in (as long as you are not afraid to potentially making a fool of yourself in front of a few hundred people…)
A speaker friend of mine in Sweden recently posted how he by mistake put the antenna of the lapel sender in his own ear (!) while trying to take it off and it hit him so unfortunately that he had to go to the hospital to stop the bleeding…
Again, the work place hazards of this job is just ridiculously minimal.
Posting this as a reminder to everyone who is or think about becoming a keynote speaker that the job of being a speaker is not only a privilege and one hell of an inspirational job – but it’s also one of the least dangerous jobs I can think of. :-). Let’s appreciate that when we fly around the world and spread our message. Today I did it for a few hundred people at PayPal, now off to Shanghai (with a brand new suit in my bag) for another speech tomorrow