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At 2 pm I was scheduled to stand on stage to give a keynote speech in Paris.

75 minutes earlier I was still speaking for a group in Skövde, Sweden …

But I made it.

How was that possible?

By giving my first speech in this small little crappy server room next to the venue I was speaking at in Paris.

You see, I did my first speech via Skype.

I am not a big fan of “video speeches” and I do not actively promote giving video speeches as something I do, and yet I have done two video speeches just in the last month.

First one for a conference in Rumania (from my bedroom in Sweden)

And now this second one to a group in Sweden from a server room in Paris).

I said yet to both those requests because the client had wanted me to come and speak at their conference but for scheduling purposes it was just not possible.

(And yes, I got paid my “local speaker fee” for both those speeches.)

So why do I not like doing video speeches?

Three reasons:

1) I really like to travel and meet new people and see new places. Traveling is not a down side of my job – I see it as a perk.

2) There is always the risk of the technology not working.

(For one of the speeches I did this month we literally got the skype and Internet-connection to work 2 minutes (!) before i was scheduled to talk (And then we started testing it one hour before, had tested it days earlier and I had a IT-expert to help me…)

3) My style of speaking is interactive.

It is possible to interact also via a video speech, but it is more difficult.

My best advice for giving skype-speeches is to develop your imagination so that you actually feel that you are in the room speaking.

The key words for a good keynote are “connection”, “presence”, and “authenticity” – all of that is hard to do at a distance, via a screen.

Not impossible but difficult.

By forcing yourself to feel that you are actually transmitting yourself into the computer and into the room where the audience is sitting you will make it easier for the audience to connect with you and your message.

If you do it well the audience will get almost the same feeling as if you where there.

But – watching a concert on TV or on a computer will NEVER be the same as watching the concert live.

It is the same with a speech.

But if you do it right you can get close.

Below are two quotes from the speeches I did on the same day:

Quote 1 from the “real” speech in Paris where the man and I were in the same room:

“I’d like to thank you very much for your wonderful, inspiring, & dynamic presentation you’ve made to us during CANON EXPO at Paris. I really admire your abilities & how you motivate people.”
– Regards Yasser

Quote 2 from the speech I did via Skype and where the audience and I were in different countries:
“I would like to thank you for a very interesting presentation today. It was both inspiring and thought provoking – an eye opener. I will bring this speech with me as a reference for the future.”
– Tomas Planstedt

As you can see, very similar kind of feedback.

Lesson: If you do a “long distance virtual speech” do everything you can to try to “transmit” yourself to where the audience is sitting so that they can feel how you are trying to connect with them.

When giving a skype-speech the “connection” almost becomes more important than “the message’.

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Today 15 000 people met for a huge Canon Event in Paris.

Canon’s clients from all over Europe, Middle East and Africa had flown in for this two-day event that only happens once every five years.

All the clients from Eastern Europe, Middle East and Africa had their own “event within the event” which begun with a passionate keynote speech by the amazingly dynamic and active 80-year old (!) Chairman of Canon Fujio Mitarain. 80 years old!

During the whole day there was only two external speakers:

One was Gary Knight – an award winning war-photographer who is starting a CSR project for Canon in East Africa.

 

The other one was me.

 

That Canon invites Gary Knight makes total sense since he has a connection to Canon, is an awarded photographer and is running this CSR project.

But I have zero connections to Canon.
I do not even live in the region.

So one way to look at it would be to say that Canon could have selected any professional speaker in the world to close their conference, yet they selected me.

For that I am, of course, very happy.

It was one of those conferences that has it all: big audience, people from all over the world, big, global company as a client, in a nice place (Paris) and with an interesting industry (digital imagining is ready to explode and Canon is at the heart of it and I saw some really, really cool technologies that they are ready to launch soon.)

So I must have been very lucky to get this speech, right, considering how many speakers from around the world who probably would have loved to do this assignment.

Yes, I think i was lucky.

But actually, and this is the point with this post, it is EASIER to get a big, global speaking gig than a small, local one.

That might sound counter-intuitive but let me explain.

If you look at yourself as a “local speaker” (say a “Singaporean Speaker”) who only speak in Singapore you might think that there is less of competition because you are “only” competing with the other local Singaporean speakers.

But that is not true.

Because someone who is booking a speaker in Singapore might very well decide to fly a speaking in from somewhere else.

Now, if you instead look at yourself as a “global speaker” then yes, it is true that you compete with “all the other speakers” BUT you also have a much larger pool of potential speeches that you might get.

The completion has increased by going global, but so has the supply of potential speeches you could get.

Insight: There must be tens of thousands of conferences in the world on any given day that is looking for a speaker. By considering all of them your potential market your market has become virtually infinite.

Have the mindset of abundance and think global, instead of having a mindset of scarcity where you narrow your potential business opportunities.

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(Dhaka, Istanbul and Paris)

Yesterday I had breakfast in Bangladesh, lunch in Turkey and dinner in France.
Such is the life of a global speaker.

Different meals in different countries is not the reason I travel.
The insights you get from seeing the small pieces of the big picture that is our world is.

Like Yesterday.

How the immigration guy at Dhaka International Airport smiled after stamping my passport and asked: “What is your impression of this country??”
Or how the man who checked my immigration form asked for “a tip”. (I smiled and said: “A tip for what?”)

Or when I came to Istanbul and got a hole in my heart when I saw the young women working at the check-in counter who just could not conceal her sorrow. She was crying unstoppable while trying to hide behind the computer. (My guess(it is just a guess) is that she just found out that someone she knew had died in the largest terrorist attack on Turkish soil that just happened. It made the event so real for me.)

Or the African man ahead of me at the luggage-carrousel who asked another African man if he could borrow his mobile phone to call back to his family and say that he had arrived in Europe.

People ask me why I travel so much.
For me the answer is easy: Because the more you travel the more you start looking at humanity as one.
And when you do, then everything changes.

The case of asking for a bribery goes from being a “Bangladeshi government problem” to being a question of “how can we stop corruption?”
The case of the crying woman goes from being “a victim of a Turkish terrorist attack” to “Why are humans blowing each other up?”
The case of the of the man calling home goes from being only a story about a happy man, to being a story of “How can we open up our borders more to create more joyful stories like that?”

Human problems, Human possibilities. Human stories.

I am convinced that starting to look at the world in that way has made me a better speaker. And dare I say so, also a better human.

Question: As a speaker are you talking about yourself as an “American Speaker”, a “Singaporean Speaker”, a “Swedish Speaker”? Or are you defining yourself as “a Speaker”.

I changed my description of myself from “a Swedish Speaker” to “a Speaker” about ten years ago. Roughly the same time that I started speaking globally. It has for ever changed the way I look at myself, my speaking, my topics that I speak on – and the world. It is one of the best changed I have ever done to myself.

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