Month: October 2015

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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(Dhaka, Bangladesh)

“Let’s pause for a second.”

That is possibly the best advice you can give yourself when you are delivering a speech.

Today I got a very good reminder of that.

I was invited to speak for some of the most successful business people in Bangladesh as the guest speaker at an event organised by Standard Chartered Bank.
At the event I had been asked to speak 2 times 1.5 hours.

First session on Business Creativity
Second session on Global mindset and the Developing world.

During the first session I paused and invited the audience into the speech. It worked, and the audience was engaged, inspired and involved. In fact, it worked so well that when it was time for a break I still had a series of stories that I had not had time to deliver (pausing to let the audience into your speech takes “away” time from your speech.)

After the break I decided to try to “make up time” by cramming more content into the allotted time slot. It did not work as well as the first session.

You would think that the audience would get more out of a session that has more content – but it doesn’t work that way.

Adding more words into specific time period doesn’t add value. It just adds stress.





The great Mark Twain said it best:

“The right word may be effective, but no word was ever as effective as a rightly timed pause.”


(See how I created some space in the text to make you pause 😉

Lesson: When you feel that you are loosing the audience it’s sometimes tempting to increase your speaking pace, as if “more words” would work like “more bullets” and blasting the audience with words would somehow make it easier to get your message across.

Instead, pause. Reconnect with the audience. Give them a chance to feel where you are in your line of thought. It is not the speaker with the most words who wins. It’s the speaker who best gets his (or hers) message across.