Tag: The business of speaking

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I have met many speakers who are very successful locally (i.e. in the country they live in), but who would like to become global speakers (i.e. be invited to speak all over the world).

They sometimes ask me how I managed to become a global speaker. There are many answers to that question, but the most important answer is mindset.

By that, I mean that you have to have the mindset of wanting to become a global speaker, and also the mindset of thinking like a global speaker.

And to do that, you need a global mindset. (Granted, not all speakers want to be global speakers, this post is for those speakers who do.)

You have to stop defining yourself as an “American Speaker” or a “German Speaker”, and instead look at yourself as just “a speaker”. (I have given two talks on the subject of becoming a global speaker that you can watch HERE if you want to find out more.)

In today’s post, I want to share an example of what it means to have a global mindset, and I will exemplify it with how I work with suppliers.

Today, I have not been traveling. I have been working from my home office in Singapore, but it has still been a very international day.

Just today, I have sent separate emails to people in: Ukraine, the Philippines, Sweden, Croatia, Australia, Switzerland, China, Malaysia, Dubai, Hong Kong and South Africa.(And received emails from more countries than that.)

Now, you could argue that this is because I already have a very global speaking business, and that is of course true. But thinking with a global perspective is something I do very actively. Like with how I work with some of my suppliers. I live in Singapore and could arguably find suppliers for everything I need right here in Singapore. But instead, I have opted for having suppliers based all around the world.

Here are some examples of some of the suppliers I am using right now:

My assistant lives in the Philippines
My 3D-designer lives in Australia
My iPhone developer lives in Pakistan
My Android developer lives in Holland
My book designer lives in Sweden
My corporate identity designer lives in France
My IT-support guys live in India
My WordPress consultant lives in Ukraine
My accountants live in Singapore
My printers are in Sweden, Bulgaria, the USA and Singapore.
I work with speaker agencies all over the world.

And so on.

So what is the advantage of this? Well, you get perspectives from many parts of the world – which makes you look at your speaking business with a broader perspective.

I also get news, insights, and information from my contacts (like hearing of the start-up culture for IT companies in Pakistan, or about how people in Ukraine look at the increasing tension between Russia and Europe and so on) which gives me a better understanding of what is happening in the world. And an understanding of what is happening in the world is something that people who book global speakers expect those speakers to have.

But it is more important than that.

By working with people from all over the world, you change both your perspective of the world, and also the perspective of where you live.

In a sense, getting a global mindset is transformational in a similar way to when Copernicus got us to understand that the sun doesn’t orbit around the earth. In both instances, we, as humans, realise that the world doesn’t evolve around us. And that is a both liberating and humbling insight.

If you are not as global as a speaker as you would like to be, ask yourself this question: Could it be because your speaking business is built too much around a very tight circle around where you live?

Is there a bigger chance that you would be speaking globally if you started to do business from a global perspective?

I think the answer is pretty obvious. Or it could of course be just a big coincidence that I have built my speaking business with a global mindset in mind – and that I, at the same time, am one of the world’s most globally booked speakers.

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9 May 2015 – Shanghai, China.

“You did more in one hour than what we have been able to do in years!”

These grateful words came to me today from the mouth of the global head of branding of one of the largest professional services firms in the world. I had just stepped off stage after delivering a one hour keynote speech at the company’s Asia Pacific Partner Conference.

I smiled and said, “Thank you”.

She added, “Your speech also changed the way I look at the world.”

People sometimes ask me why a company would fly in a professional speaker from a different country just to have him or her speak for one hour.

The answer is simple: Because they see results.

If you are a trainer, you can aim to teach a skill or to instill knowledge in your audience. But if you are a speaker, you should aim to rock their world. You should try to change their minds.

Now, not every keynote speech succeeds in altering the universe of the audience, but every keynote speaker should at least try. Because a great speech can change the world.

People have gone to war – and to the moon – because of great speeches.

Now, the stakes when giving a keynote speech at a corporate kick-off might not be as high as when Churchill was rallying his citizens against Hitler or when President Kennedy got the Americans to want to send astronauts to the moon.

But at a global or international conference for a global company, the stakes can still be high. A successful speech that changes the mindset of the top 150 global managers of a billion dollar company can mean millions in saved costs or increased revenue.

In the case of the conference today in Shanghai, my speech got the Asian leadership to understand why the company needed to become more global in the way it is run, something the global management unsuccessfully had tried to communicate for a few years. Now, after a one hour speech, the audience was on board.

If you look at a keynote speech as an event where, in this case, 150 top managers got a one-hour message that helps them get on-board the global strategy – then suddenly the idea of flying in a keynote speaker doesn’t seem so strange.

Perhaps that is how professional speakers like myself should sell ourselves: not as “giving a one-hour speech” but as “delivering 150 hours of top management transformation” 😉

Lesson: When planning a keynote speech, ask yourself, “How will this speech transform the minds of the audience?”.

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May 7, 2015 in Singapore.

This is an email I received in my inbox today, 7th of May 2015, asking me if I can deliver a speech in Europe for a regional conference on (wait for it…) May 19th!

“Let me shortly introduce myself. My name is (Name of Client) and I am working for (Name of Company).

We are a leading insurance broker and risk advisor being active in more than 100 countries.

Once a year we have a regional event for our European and Middle East/Africa managers – in total around 100 colleagues. For our joint dinner on May 19, we are looking for an innovating, motivating and inspiring speaker.

Kindly ask you to let us know if you would be available and interested to join our event as a speaker for dinner on May 19th.

Many thanks in advance and best regards from Vienna.”

Here is a company planning an international conference for hundreds of people and they are booking their speaker for this conference less than two weeks (!) before the event.

The interesting thing is that this is becoming more and more common. When I started as a professional speaker 20 years ago, companies would book speakers months in advance, and sure, some companies and event organisers still book way in advance. But overall, companies are now booking with much shorter time frame.

Not long ago, I was booked with a one week time frame where the CEO had decided 8 (!) days before the conference happened that he wanted to have an Asian Regional Conference.

On the first day of the conference, the CEO stood up and said: “We normally plan conferences months in advance, but I wanted to show you that we can do things much faster, and we HAVE to do things much faster in the future to be able to survive.”

So to prove that the company could move much faster than they thought it could, he had forced them to do a conference in a week.

Not all CEOs are that extreme, but planning of conferences has for sure become quicker.

What does this mean for a speaker?

It means that we have to understand that one of the reasons companies decide so late which speaker they should bring in is that the theme that they want to cover in their conference might have also recently changed. Be sure to have an extra briefing call (or meeting) the day before the speech to be up-to-date with the latest developments in the company so you know what the company is going through right now.

It also means that we have to be more flexible with our own planning, and that we should not stress out if our calendar has some empty slots in it a few months from now.

Lesson: The business of professional speaking has more and more become a “just-in-time-world” as the world of business is changing the way they plan their conferences. Clients want their conferences to be current and relevant – and in an ever faster changing business environment, that means they might wait to book a speaker until the very end to make sure the speaker fits with the theme of the conference. As speakers, we need to understand the rationale behind this behaviour.