Tag: The business of speaking

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When we as professional speakers attend a conference we are spoiled with often getting a chance to speak from the stage, and we not used to paying to attend a conference – hell, we are PAID to attend conferences …

So why on Earth would professional speakers choose to attend a conference where they do not get to speak and even have to pay to attend?

Because attending a conference can be one of the most effective ways to learn something and improve your profession.

People of all professions know this and the whole conference industry (and professional speaking industry) is based on the premise that learning, live and in person, from experts together with a group with likeminded people is extremely powerful.

So what kind of conferences does professional speakers attend? Well, Professional Speakers Conventions, of course!

This blog post is different from the normal posts that I do. Today I will promote something: The Asia Professional Speakers Convention which happens in Singapore 5 -6 May 2017.

(full disclosure, I am a member of, and sit on the EXCO of, Asia Professional Speakers Sinagapore (asiaspeakers.org) who organise this convention, but I have no financial interests at all in this conference (If anything I will volunteer my time for it.) and APSS is a not-for profit organisation for professional speakers.

I am sharing this with you because I think that readers of this blog might be interested in attending the conference.

If you are interested in professional speaking and live within travel distance from Singapore I highly recommend that you invest in a chance to network with over 100 professional speakers from all over the world while you listen to and learn from more than 20 great speakers.

The amount of knowledge and inspiration that you get during these intense two days is most likely the best return on investment you can do as a person interested in taking your professional speaking career to the next level. I say that as a person who have attended numerous of these events in the past – and who signed up for this years convention the minute the registration opened.

The theme for this years convention is “Worldclass” and you get to listen to subjects like:

“How to grow your speaking business” with Meridith Elliott Powell (USA),
“Secrets of Million Dollar Speakers” with Scott Friedman (USA),
“Don’t just be a speaker, be a STAR” with Dr Boy Abunda (Philippines),
“World Class Speaking Secrets – A Speaker Bureau Perspective” with Gautam Ganglini (UAE)
and many many more!
Find out more about the convention at: http://asiaprofessionalspeakersconvention.com/

I hope to see you there, and if you come, please let me know (email me at fredrik.haren@interesting.org) and we can catch up during the convention!

Sign up before 1 April go enjoy a early bird discount.

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What kind of speakers gets booked for big, internal keynote speeches?

It’s not the best speakers. (you can be a great speaker but still not get invited to give keynotes)
It’s not the most famous speakers (famous speakers get invited to client events to draw a crowd, but the same thing that makes them a draw at a client event (they are famous) might stop them from getting the internal event (their fame has made them too expensive for internal events.)

My initial question is actually a trick question.

Because a client will not pick a speaker for their internal event – they will pick a theme.

And when they have a theme they will pick a speech which is on that same theme.

Not only when they have found a speech that matches the theme of the conference will they decide if the speaker delivering that speech is the one they want to book.

Today I was the keynote speaker at the AsiaPac-Business Development conference for EY. EY is one of the largest companies in the world, Asia is one of the most important markets for any global company, and the Business Development Managers are the ones responsible for selling some of the key projects that make this big, big company successful.

There were some very smart and experienced people in the room.

The managers had decided that two of the keywords at this conference was “disruption” and “innovation”.

I speak on both of those topics.

That is why I got this job.

Yes, the client had heard me speak before.
Yes, I have done a lot of work for this client before.
No, they would not have booked me did they not think my speech was good enough for this group.

BUT – and this is key – they would not have booked my speech, no matter how good they think I was if the topics I speak on was not the topics that they wanted their managers to hear.

My main topics are “Change, Business Creativity and Global Mindset” – the good thing with themes like “change” and “business creativity” is that those are themes that never go out of style – I have literally been speaking on those topics for more than 20 years and they have ALWAYS been in demand. (In good times everyone needs to innovative, in bad times everyone needs to change.)

What are the topics you are speaking on?

Are your topics in line with the themes that companies are picking for their conferences?

Is there any way you could tweak your speech or the topic that you speak on to make it more relevant to the topics companies are holding conferences around at the moment?

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Today I will write about why you as a speaker should speak to the back of the room, but network with the first row if you want to succeed both with your speech and your speaking business.

The reason you speak to the people sitting in the back of the room is that they are the most critical and sceptical people in an audience. Remember how, when you were in school, the “tough guys” would sit in the back, right hand corner of the classroom? It’s the same with an audience of adults at work. When you realise that you understand that you need to focus your attention on the back rows. If you get the “sceptical and critical crowd” against you everything becomes harder during the speech, and the evaluations of your speech will go down, because the people in the back will influence the rest in a negative way.

Another reason to speak to the back of the room is that the further away an audience member is from the speaker, the less obliged they tend feel to pretend to be paying attention. It’s always the people in the back who are the first to pick up their phones and check Facebook if they find the speaker boring, for example.

If you can keep the people in the last few rows inspired, engaged and happy the chances are very big that the group as a whole will like the speech.

(This, of course, doesn’t mean that you ignore the rest of the room, it’s all about understanding who in a group you have to have on your side.)

The metaphor you can use it to think of your message as water – If you focus on sprinkling water on the people in the front of the room, the people in the back will not get wet, but if you try to sprinkle the people in the back the people in the front will get wet as well.

While the people in the back might be the most important to catch during the speech, the people on the first row are the ones you need to focus your attention on before and after your speech.

So who sits on the first row during a speech? The funny way to answer that question is “no-one”. It is amazing how the first row so often is mostly empty – it’s like people are afraid to sit there because they think they might be pulled up on stage or something. In a concert people love to stand in the front row, during a speech most people try to avoid the front row.

But even if the front row is mostly empty it is still the “VIR” – the “Very Important Row”.

And that is because the people who do tend to sit on the first row are the VIPs, the top management, the most important people in the room. And those are the people you want to network with as a speaker.

The good thing is that you as a speaker also sit on the front row before your speech, since the organisers want to know where you are before you go up and speak (makes them comfortable), so that is easy for you to get up on stage (convenient for you) – and because you are seen as a VIP (enjoy the special treatment that comes with this job.)

So when you sit there and wait for your speaking slot to begin make sure you talk to the other people next to you. Those are the senior leaders who will book you for other speaking assignments if you do a good job.

Today, for example, I was speaking at the Prudential Learning Festival in Singapore. A few hundred people had gathered in the auditorium for a day of learning. I was the opening keynote speaker, after a short introduction by the CEO.

Before the speech I was sitting in the front row talking to the CEO chatting about his vision for the company. A couple of other people come up and sat next to us. I could tell they were senior leaders by their body language and confident presence and leaned over to introduce myself. I also got up and got two copies of the five copies of my book that I had planned to give away during the speech and give those two copies to the bosses.

We chatted for a while before the conference begun and one of them said: “Oh, so you are the speaker, I thought perhaps you were from the global HQ because I had not seen you before.” (A perfect example of how people think that the people who sit on the first row must be a VIP and since he did not know me he assumed I was from global HQ.)

I delivered my speech and it went well.

Two days later I get an email from the assistant of one of the two bosses who says: “My boss heard you speak two days ago and wants to book you for another conference that he is organising two weeks from now. Please confirm your availability.”

Just like that. Another booking. Without even asking about the fee.

Would I have gotten the booking without introducing me to the bosses before my speech? Most likely, but let’s just say it did not hurt.

The thing to remember is that you network with the VIP but you speak to the whole group, because no matter how much the bosses likes your speech, they still will not book you again if the feedback from the group was not positive.

So win the group. But talk to the people on the Very Important Row.