Author: Fredrik Haren

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Since Thursday I have travelled:

Singapore-Doha-Manchester-Nottingham (by train) -SPEECH – Manchester (by train) – Doha – Singapore – Kuching (Malaysia) – SPEECH (and meet the Orangutans) – Kuala Lumpur – Hong Kong – Chicago – Peoria. (I am in Peoria to speak at a charity event.)

That means speaking after a 8 hour+ timezone travel on 3 separate (!) occasions in one week. (I traveled through 24 times zones in the last week.)

And let’s be clear: to have jetlag when speaking is a BAD thing. It’s called “PRESENTations” for a reason – you have to be PRESENT, and jetlag tends to make you think you are mentally somewhere else.

So, how to avoid jetlag when speaking?

1) Sleep as much as you can on flights. (I have spent 55 hours on airplanes in last 168 hours and I would say I have slept or rested most of those hours). Do not watch movies!

2) Move your body. I had 12,354 steps per day in the last 7 days. (Walk in the airport terminal, on train platform – any time you have free.)

3) Make sure you are tired when you board the flight. (I had a 12 hour lay-over in HK so I decided to stay up all night and just walk through out Hong Kong to change my body clock to USA time.)

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As I write this I can not speak.

I have lost my voice.

That is NOT good if you are a professional speaker …

I woke up on Thursday morning with a bit of a rough voice and by Thursday night the voice was totally gone. Not a sound came out when I tried to say something.

At 11 AM I had had a speech to give for a global audience so I was VERY lucky the voice did not decide to give up a few hours earlier …

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Over the weekend I have been temporarily mute as I have been avoiding to speak to rest my vocal cords.

Not speaking at all has given me time to reflect on my work as a speaker.

If I really did loose my voice and never could speak again what would I do?

My insight was that I would continue to spread my message just like I do today.

I am passionate about creativity, change and global/human mindset, my “Inner Theme” is “Humanity to the Power of Ideas”. I believe in the potential of humanity and the power of ideas.

If I never could speak again I would spread the same messages via videos, books, blog posts and perhaps a podcast where I would write down questions that the people I interviewed would reply to.

For the last 18 year I have replied with the same answer when someone asks me: “What do you do?”

My answer has always been: “I am a speaker”.

Sitting quietly in my home writing this I realise that that is perhaps not the best answer.

According to Eyomonline.com (An etymology site) the word “speak” apparently can be traced back to the “notion of speech as a “scattering” of words.”

And “speak” was not the primary word for “to speak” in Old English.

Instead the word “maþelian” was used:

Now while “speak” comes from “scattering of words” the word “maþelian” comes from mæþel meaning “assembly, council,”.

“It has its root from metan “to meet;” compare Greek agoreuo “to speak, explain,” originally “speak in the assembly,” from agora “assembly”)”

Now THAT I like.

“To explain in an assembly.”

A very cool etymology trace back in time through the history of the English language.

Because is that not what “Speakers” do?

We explain some aspect of the world to a group of people gathered together in one place for a common purpose.

Sitting here, not being able to speak any words, I realise that I am not a “speaker”.

Instead when I get the question: “What do you do?”

I should really reply “maþelie” – as in “I speak”.

And no, I will not really do that. I will stick to “I am a speaker”, but this text has not just been a play on words.

“To explain in an assembly.” is, if you think about it profoundly, what it really means to be a speaker.

We have a job where we have the privilege to stand in front of groups of other people gathered to listen to us explain something to them.

That is a huge honor and responsibility.

Let’s look at it as such.

Let’s be thankful for getting to do so.

And – from a person who can not speak right now – let us also be thankful for something most of us, most of the time, take for granted: Our ability to just open our mouth and express what is on our mind.

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It’s 11 PM and I am standing in the Ballroom of the Fullerton Hotel the night before the global conference I have been booked to speak at will start. Tomorrow there will be people from all over Asia and Europe in the room, but right now the room is still in chaos. (As so many times before the client did not get access to the room until late the day before and people are scrambling to make it look perfect for the next morning.)

Earlier I had been invited to a “rehearsal” at 9.30 PM. The rehearsals started at 5 PM and went all through until 11 PM.)

I emailed the client and said: “I am ok to take the last slot at 11 PM  instead so that your other speakers can get done earlier and go back to their hotel and get a good nights rest.”

The other speakers where internal.

By offering to take the “worst” rehearsal spot I was helping the other speakers out and also the event manager.

Event Managers and internal speakers have so much other things to think about at a client event. As the external speaker you are there to support the other speakers, and the event manager.

So as the external speaker: Do not just be “easy to work with” – instead “work on making it easy” for the client.

ps. Bonus tip: When I did get my rehearsal slot I did not use it to go through MY slides (I knew them already) instead I clicked through all the OTHER speakers slides to update me on what they would be speaking on before and after me.

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