Month: December 2017

Today I was contacted by a speaker friend of mine, Joanne Flinn, who asked if I wanted to support an initiative. She wrote: “Promoting excellence in speaking and diversity in voice, Keynote, the directory for Women Speakers in Asia is being launched 7th Dec by Primetime, the professional women’s association here in Singapore.”

The initiative is about getting more women onto stages as speakers and panelists, and she asked if I would support it.

I said I would love to!

She said there were three levels that I as a male speaker could support them: 

1 NICE: Say: it’s fair and the right thing to do

2. SHOULD: it brings broader perspective. It’s time for biases and glass ceilings to go.

3. MUST: This is critical and much needed. This is a must.

She then said: “In Australia, there is 3++. Some men are pledging ‘I won’t appear on a panel/platform solely comprising men.’”

I replied: “What would a 4. or a 5. be if you had one? ” (Because I really wanted to support this initiative.)


She came back to me and said:

“4. PUTTING MY MONEY WHERE MY MOUTH IS: Yes, I’ll offer my spot. Place and pay competent women as you do competent men on panels and platforms. Ask me, I’ll refer.

5. BACKING THIS WITH TIME AND COMMITMENT: This is a must. I’m mentoring women to make this happen.

So I became a 5.

I have now offered to mentor, for free, any woman who is part if this initiative because I think it is crucial that we get more diversity on the stages of our conferences.

And I also pledged that: “From now on, if I am asked to sit on a all-male panel I will give up my seat so they can find a woman instead, and I will happily help them find her too if they don’t know where to look. More women on stages will, in a small but symbolic way, help set the stage for more women in leadership positions over all.”

Is there a problem that there is such a over-representation of men on conference stages?

As a father of two daughters I think it is. I want them to grow up in a world where men and women who are experts on a topic both get selected to be on stage.

I am happy to be part of this initiative and hope it will create a much needed change of better diversity at conferences.

(Picture from a panel discussion at the convention in Lisbon where I am speaking today. All middle aged white men. As a middle aged white man I rather play a tiny little part of the solution than to just be part of being the problem…)


In this blog I try to mix the kind of advice I get on becoming a successful keynote speaker, from how to craft a speech, to how to interact with the audience, to how to get more speaking business and so on.

Today I want to talk about something that might seem trivial and small, but as in all professions, the key to a successful speaking career lies in mastering all the small, trivial things.

So today I will talk about how to pick your clothes for your speech.

Today I spoke at the Asia Management Conference of AECOM a very successful company that designs, build, finance and manage huge infrastructure projects like airports, bridges, subways etc.

Since the 2-day conference was in Singapore and since I was speaking on the second day I took the time to go down and meet with the organisers at the end of day 1 to find out how the first day had been. (This “last minute extra brief” is something I highly recommend you do if you speak on the second day, that’s where you can get a feel for what the mood will be the day you speak.)

Before I met with the client I walked around in the ballroom area to get a sense of the audience I was going to speak to. Are they chatty? Do they look stiff or relaxed? Things like that.

And I also looked at what they were wearing.

Turns out almost everyone I met was dressed on black.

So I made a mental note, and today when I picked my suit I picked a black one with a black shirt.

(As you can see from the panel discussion from day 2 this company really likes to dress in black.)

Screen Shot 2017-12-04 at 12.54.15

By dressing like the audience you create a feeling of “us” with the attendees, and that makes it eaiser for them to connect with you, which makes it easier for them to hear your message.

It might seem like a tiny detail to care about, but I am absolutely convinced it helped make the speech a success. If nothing else it reminded me to connect with the audience and build affinity with them.

Perhaps dressing in black to look more like them was something I did more for myself than for them…


(Picture from when I was walking down to the bus stop to take a public bus to work – not every day I, as a global speaker, get to take the bus to work 😉


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