Tag: The business of speaking

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Bangkok, Thailand.

 

I am writing this at Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok, Thailand. I am on a short stop-over after the first leg of an around-the-world ticket that will take me from Copenhagen-via Bangkok-Singapore-via Seoul-San Francisco-via Zurich-to Split in Croatia. The ticket then continues back to Copenhagen, but by then I will have left to fly back to Singapore.

So why did I start an around the world ticket in Denmark?

Because the next few weeks will take me to speak in Singapore (my home town), San Francisco, and Split.

By getting an around the world ticket that starts in Copenhagen, I get an “extra” stop in my home town of Singapore, that makes it possible for me to achieve the three “24-hour-stops” needed when buying such a ticket.

The last 24-hour-stop will be in Split where the airline thinks that I will stay for 48 hours. They do not need to know that I would have left Split in less than 24 hours on a different ticket back to Singapore.

So why this strange way of buying tickets?

Because this around-the-world ticket cost me just 10,000 SGD for an all-business-class ticket. Just a simple Copenhagen-Singapore return ticket on Singapore Airlines would cost almost the same amount.

Buying “around-the-world tickets” is an amazing way of getting cheap flights and a “travel trick” that many frequent fliers forget to check out.

It will not work for everyone since you need to have a travel schedule which will take you to places all over the world — and in an order where you are able to continuously fly in the same direction (east to west, or west to east).

But when the “stars align” and such a ticket becomes an option, it’s a great ticket to get.

With some planning and creativity, it can be an option that is available more often than you would think. I have, for example, bought 5 around-the-world-tickets in the last 2 years and will buy 1 more in a few weeks.

Lesson: Plan your trips.

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Today, I was interviewed by a Croatian business magazine in preparation for my trip to Croatia to give a speech later this month. They asked some interesting questions that I had never gotten before from journalists.

One question was: “In the end, how useful do you find these kinds of gatherings like the Combis Conference?”

That was a great question. I replied:

“This might sound grand, but I truly think that there are a few things more powerful than a bunch of people coming together to learn new things. I believe in the concept of collective inspiration. (I guess that is why I have been a speaker for more than 20 years…).”

I often hear people say that the concept of speakers, or the concept of conferences, is dead. That in the future, there will be no speakers, or there will be no conferences. People will just get their inspiration and their information online.

I do not believe that for one second.

Music concerts did not die because we got MTV, or Napster, or satellite radio, or Spotify.

Because no matter how cool it is to be able to listen to infinite amount of music at your fingertips, it will never beat the intimacy, the impact and the emotional experience you get from being at a concert.

And the same is true for speeches.

We can watch thousands of TED talks, or hundreds of lectures online, but sitting in the audience of a great speaker will always be something extra. And sharing that experience with others as a group makes it even more impactful.

That is what I try to hint at with my words “collective inspiration”. That unique human connection which happens when a large number of people experience the same message at the same time.

To have a job where you, as the speaker, are an important part of creating that magic, is an honor and a privilege.

Now, are all conferences awesome temples of inspiration?

Honestly, NO.

But when it happens…when the stars align, and speakers, audiences and message collide in the most positive of ways, then there are just a few things which human beings can do that are more powerful.

Aim for that magic if or when you organise a conference. And if or when you are inspired to speak at one.

 

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Today, I delivered a speech as the only external speaker when Trendwatching (www.trendwatching.com) had their trend seminar.

Trendwatching.com is an amazing company that collects trends from all over the world using 3000+ trend watchers. Their website offers an amazing number of free trends (and even more if you pay for it, of course).

During the seminar today, they (the people from Trendwatching) presented some of the most interesting trends at the moment. I stayed for the whole day because I found it so fascinating to listen to them.

And this post will be about an insight that hit me during the day.

 

The Trick to Being a Great Speaker: Moving Your Audience from Point A to Point B

A common critique that speakers often get to hear is “most of the stuff presented during the conference/speech was not new”, or “I already know most of this stuff”.

I would like to comment on that.

You see, I think that a conference where everything is about brand new insights for the audience would be very exhausting to listen to, and I actually doubt that you would be able to digest it all.

A good speaker is supposed to move the audience to a new place – but in order to do that, you have to start where the audience is. Another way of saying it would be “you can not move someone from A to B without starting at A”.

The trick to being a great speaker is that you are able to sense where the audience is (Point A) and then sense how far you can move them (Point B).

Move them too little and the audience will feel that they did not learn anything.

Move them too far and the audience will not understand what you are talking about.

But that means that some parts of your speech need to include examples or descriptions that the audience is familiar with, to make them accept the world view that you are painting. They feel, “Oh, I agree with the speaker because I feel/think the same way”. Then you, as a speaker, can start moving them.

Also, remember that the an audience will always consist of people who have different knowledge sets of the subject you are talking about. So, you have to speak to the “middle knowledge” of the room. This means that some people will already know what you are talking about, and some will have no clue.

My insight from today was that a speech (or a whole conference) is successful if there is even just one new insight that you take away.

Like the conference today.

 

The Stapler Example

There was, of course, many examples of trends that were presented which I already knew about: everything from Uber, to AirBnB and Spotify. The usual suspects, so to say.

But then, there were many I have never heard of, and a few that really made me think.

Like when Henry Manson from Trendwatching.com was talking about the trend of how the world is becoming increasingly transparent, and illustrated it with a product review of a stapler that had 581 (!) reviews on Amazon.com.

Imagine, 581 people have taken the time to write down a review of a stapler — a $10 stapler!

One good example like that can get your mind starting to think in brand new ways, or perhaps I should say that it got MY mind started.

For others in the audience, that example meant nothing and instead, some other example from the day triggered new thoughts.

And one example like that made it worthwhile to go to the whole conference for me.

As long as I get one, or a few thing(s) to take home, I will be happy as an audience member.

That was my takeaway today from the conference where I was a speaker.

Lesson: As a speaker, you should aim at leaving the audience thinking thoughts they had never thought before to move their frame of reference. But structure your speech by presenting your material in a way that it feels familiar, yet new, to the audience.

 

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