Month: November 2015

(Sydney, Australia.)

As a global speaker I want to have a global mindset. Because of that I am a member of numerous speaker associations around the world:

NSA – in the USA – because it is the oldest, biggest and most professional speaker association in the world – by far.
APSS – because it is the local Singaporean organisation and I live in Singapore
NSA(Sweden) – (which i co-founded) – because Sweden has a very high percentage of really good speakers (and because I am Swedish of course)
Professional Speakers Australia – because it has a big, organisation and I got my CSP from Australia.

(I am planning to join the speaker associations in the UK and Canada too next year.)

The reason I am a member of so many different organisations is because I do not want to see myself as a speaker from “one” country – I have been invited to speak in 60+ countries and speak in between 20-30 different countries each year – and I think the concept of speaker associations built around countries of residence is too limiting. So to break through from this “country limiting mindset” that many speakers have I am a member of so many different speaker associations.

I think it is very important to have a global mindset as a speaker and being a member of many organisations makes that a little bit easier.

Today I am in Sydney so I used this mindset to catch up with a local Australian speaker (who was actually born in Germany.) when I met up with Peter Strohkorb for a long lunch in a restaurant in Hyde Park.

Peter is a fellow speaker and consultant who’s focus is the intersection between sales and marketing.
His book “The One Team Method” has the subtitle “How Sales+Marketing Collaboration can boost Big Business.”

I like to meet up with speakers to learn more about how they look at speaking.
But I also like to meet up with speakers to learn nothing about speaking.

Today I met with Peter to learn more about the topic he talks on.
To be successful as speakers we need to know a lot about a topic – we need to be thought leaders – so who better to talk to if you want to learn more about a topic than a speaker?

The great part of being a speaker is that it is easy to get access to other speakers and learn from them.

We had a long chat about the importance to integrate your sales and marketing into one combined activity – which was very useful for me as I am a speaker who has not been very good at wither marketing or selling but who has build a career based on word-of-mouth.

After my meeting with Peter I went to the Hotel spa to relax in the sauna for an hour to focus on my own speech later in the night where I had been invited to speak at their event (at the Iconic Sydney Opera House) because they think I would be the best person for the audience to listen to.

Tonight I am the thought leader.
But today I was the one who interviewed the thought leader.

Lesson: Use the fact that speakers and thought leaders like to meet up with each other and try to connect with speakers in cities that you come to and speak to get some new ideas and thoughts into your head.

When is the last time you interviewed another speaker – not about his or her speaking – but about his or her topic or expertise?


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There are famous speakers and then there are non famous speakers.

The way to tell the difference is that the famous speaker get’s a bigger round of applause BEFORE going up on stage than other speakers get when they are done..

Like the audience is happy just by the fact that they get to listen to this speaker.

Today I went and listen to one such speaker: Steve Wozniak (founder of Apple and inventor of one of the first personal computers.)

He was speaking at the same EY conference I spoke at on Monday and I went back there today just to hear him speak.
I wanted to know what I (as a “non famous speaker”) could learn from him – a “famous speaker”.

This is what I learnt:

1) Be passionate.

Mr Wozniak has a burning interest in technology and new things. When he spoke about a new gadget that he has bought that makes his phone beep when his bag comes out from the luggage carrousel at the airport the audience was laughing at the silliness of the invention and at the same time out of shared happiness over how excited he seemed over such a small little thing. Passion about a specific subject is contagious – not only in the sense that others might want to learn more about the subject the person is interested in – but even in the way that people get inspired to become passionate about ANY subject.

It’s like that line from “When Harry met Sally”: “I’ll have what she is having…”

2) Be humble

There are basically two kinds of famous speakers – the ones who start to think that they are special because they are well known, and the ones who become humbled by their fame and success.

Woz is clearly the second type. And it resonated so well with the audience.

When he told the story about how he personally sold off Apple stock to Apple employees who had not gotten stock options before the IPO so that many of them would make “enough to buy a house” you could hear how the respect for him as a person grew.
3) Have fun

Steve was so clearly enjoying life and having fun. But he was also enjoying being there on stage. It did not, in any way, feel like he was there because some company (in this case EY) had paid him to come, he gave off the feeling that he could have come for free. (I am very sure he did not…)

When I look at the three things I wrote down as “take aways” from his speech the common denominator is that he made himself human.

Which I find a very interesting observation since “fame” often seems to be about creating a persona that is bigger than the actual person.

It might be easy to think that one should feed that “bigger persona” by being a “guru”, a “celebrity” or a “star” on stage.
But as Steve Wozniak showed today, it might actually be a smarter strategy to just be human.

And that is advice that works for all speakers – not just the famous ones.

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Today 1700 partners and global leaders of EY from 22 different countries started a three day conference at the massive Marina Bay Sands Convention centre.

They had just three external keynote speakers for this conference.
For a big and important conference like this (EY partners in Asia met like this last time 3 years ago) – there would be very few limits of the kind of speakers they would book. They would basically pick the speakers they want to have.

The went for:
1) Steve Wozniak (flown in from USA) (creator of Apple II computer and global ideas wizard)

2) Linda Yueh (BBC presenter, Adjunct Professor of Economics at London Business School, and Visiting Professor of Economics at Peking University who flown in from the UK)


3): Me.

After 2000+ speeches over a 20+ year speaker career I have come to understand that there are no “boring speeches” or “boring groups”.
But there are some “extra fun speeches” for “extra fun groups”.

And – for me – the most fun speeches and the most fun groups are big, global conferences. It is just something with the dynamic of a big, global group that I like so much. How it becomes a group of Humans – not a group of people from a certain nationality/group/culture. 

I also love how everything is bigger, the budgets, the crowds, the stage – the stakes.

Big, global conferences are just the most fun ones to do, I think. The SuperBowl – or the World Cup, if you like – of speeches.
So how did I get this high profile, big conference gig?

By doing a very small talk for 12 of EY’s clients at a small hotel room in Shanghai in June.

The moral here is: Do not look down on the speeches done for small groups.

(Now, to be clear, that job in China was a very fun job too, since it might have been small, but it was the top global HR managers of big Chinese companies.)

But my point is: You never know how a small gig might lead to a big one. Because EY liked what I did for them in China they invited me back for their big conference.

That means I was just one connection away from speaking at their big Asian conference when I did that small speech in China.

I love the concept of “six degrees of separation”, the idea that every human is connected to anyone else by no more than 6 steps. (And with globalisation and the Internet it is probably now more like 5 steps.)

But I do not think it should be called “six degrees of separation” – it should be called “six degrees of connections”, because our connections are not separating us, they are connecting us.

And when it comes to doing a speech for a multinational or international company you are probably no more than 3 connections away from the person who organises the global conference.

1) The person who booked your speech probably knows the national HR director
2) The national HR director probably knows the person who organises the global conference

Now for the first person to recommend to the national HR director that she contact the head of the global conference person and suggest that YOU should be the speaker for their next big conference (out of all the speakers in the world) it is of course not enough that they know who you are.

They also must think that you are the very best choice…

And that means you have to have a kick-ass speech.

But if you do (and I know many speakers who have great, world class speeches, and who want to do big, global conferences but who are not getting those bookings) my advice is this:

Look at the person who books you for a small speech as a “talent scout” who is out looking for great speaking talent that he or she can bring to the big leagues.

You will be surprised how quickly you can go from little league, to mayor league to world series in the world of speaking.


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