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It seems like every speaker I speak to wants to know how to get to speak at the big stages.

And I understand why, speaking at the big stages is thrilling, spreading your message to big crowds is rewarding.

A couple of weeks back I wrote a blog post about how I spoke at the world’s largest leadership conference, The Global Leadership Conference, with a live audience of 10,000 people and a total of 400,000 watching at remote locations all over the world.

So how do you get to speak at the big stages? The answer is simple: treat every speaking opportunity you get as a big stage. Even when you are speaking at the very small stages.

Yesterday I was in the beautiful little town of Victoria on Vancouver Island on the West coast of Canada. I was there to deliver a speech for the local EO chapter as part of a EO your across 5 Canadian cities that I am doing this week.

The other chapters have been bigger crowds, but Victoria is small and just about 18-20 people had gathered in a conference room at one of the towns hotels.

It would be easy to look like a speech for 20 people as a less important speech, but I never look at speeches for small groups like that. I always look at a speech as an opportunity to do my very best

After my speech two people came up and told me that they would contact the EO chapter in Edmonton and suggest that they bring me in (Edmonton is the largest EO chapter in Canada), and one guest who was visiting from Belgium came up and told me that he would contact the Belgian chapter about putting together a European EO tour for me.

Three out of 20 guests coming up after the speech and telling me they will actively sell me to bigger conferences…. 15% of an audience coming up to say they want to refer me to new clients. A perfect example of what happens when a speaker sees every speaking opportunity as a change to give 100% and to spread his (or her) message to an audience, and how – if you do that – the audience will help you get to bigger audiences.

So never walk into a small talk and think about it as a small talk, but as a great opportunity to speak.



Picture of the Swan hotel where the speech was held.


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Most posts on this blog is about how to become better as a professional speaker, or how to develop the business side of speaking. But a few posts are about the life of a global, professional speaker.

This is one of those posts.

I am writing this on Saturday morning in Victoria, Canada.

I spent Monday at home with my family and ended it with a mentoring session for another speaker between 6 and 7 pm. Then I jumped on a plane that would be the beginning of an epic traveling week:

Since Monday evening I have flown:

Singapore-Doha-New York-Plattsburgh-(via car) Montreal-Calgary-Vancouver-Victoria.

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8 Airports and 4 speeches in 6 days.

The trick to being able to speak in as many countries as I do (23 countries last year) is to combine and condense the speeches so that I fly from one speech directly to the next.

Tomorrow Sunday I am flying Victoria-Toronto- Quebec where I will end my Canada speaking tour and board a plane to Frankfurt and onwards to Gothenburg for a speech there next week.

So if you want to be a global keynote speaker, be prepared to travel and plan your bookings so that you can fly straight from one speech to the next without going home in between.

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Here is something that makes me annoyed: Speakers who think that they have to simply their message just because they are speaking in a less “developed” country.

It’s like they think that just because the COUNTRY is less developed the people in the AUDIENCE are less developed.

After having spoken in way over 30 developing countries (from China and India to the Philippines and South Africa) it is my firm belief that that is simply an arrogant and false premise.

The world has changed. And today I think you should just not assume that any audience is less knowledge than another just based on geographic considerations.

And yet I see so many speakers from the West doing exactly that.

Mansplaining is a new word about how (some) men have a need to explain the simplest of things to women in a condescending or patronizing way.

Perhaps we need a new word: “Westplaining”: when people from the “west” or “developed countries’ come to “developing countries” and feel a need to “explain how the world works in a condescending or simplistic way.”

I have spoken at creative conferences in countries like Bangladesh, Mauritius, Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, China, India and many other developing countries and I am always impressed and inspired by the creative minds that I meet there.

And a few days ago I did a speech for a branding conference in Kathmandu, Nepal. The conference was an other example of the high level of creativity, knowledge and aspirations of creative people in the developing world.

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I did exactly the same kind of speech I would do if I was invited to speak at a creative conference in Berlin or New York. And it worked just as well.

So do yourself – and the audience – a favour: Never judge the competences of an audience based on the country they live in or the passport they hold.

(Ps. I wrote a book about creativity in developing countries a few years back called “The Developing World: How an explosion of creativity in developing countries in the the developing world is changing the world, and why the developed world has to start paying attention.” You can watch a small animated video about the premise of the theme of the book here. (And read about the book here.)


ps. Here is a creative thing the organisers of BrandFest did; At the lunch buffet they had added a few dishes from with famous food from the country the foreign speakers came from. In my case they served: “Fredrik Haren Swedish Meetballs”. I love when conference organiser add these small, little extra details to a conference.

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