Author: Fredrik Haren


I spend a lot of time thinking about the difference between “good speakers” and “great speakers”.
Today I will reflect over the difference approach that I think “great speakers’ have towards their content vs “good speakers”.

My theory is this:

Good speakers are speakers who think they are great because they think they have these amazing ideas and concepts that they have come up all by themselves.

Great speakers are speakers who have a passion for a subject and who then go out and try to learn as much as possible about this subject from OTHERS.

See the difference?

Great speakers do not think that they are great – instead they think that the topic that they are speaking on is great, and therefor they want to learn as much as possible about this topic from others.

Less about “me, me, me” and more about “learn, learn, learn.”

People who constantly want to learn more are great teachers. (and speakers are, after all, teachers.)

If you are a speaker on Customer Service, do you interview your taxi driver about service?
If you are a speaker on Leadership, do you ask your child’s teacher if they have any examples of great leadership from children?
If you are a speaker on Focus, do you interview your dentist on what she does to stay focused on the task when her patiens are screaming?

Are you constantly trying to learn more about your subject?

I hate when speakers talk about themselves as “gurus” where it is supposed to give the feeling of an “all knowing expert”.
I love when I met a speaker (or any person) who feels that there is yet so much to learn.

Today I met two people like that.

Andreas Ehn and Lisa Enckell

Lisa is a consultant and speaker. Andreas is an investor (and former CTO of Spotify)

They have just embarked on project where they will live in 10 different parts of the world in the next five years. On their website ( ), where you can follow them on this journey, they write:
“We want to understand the world better. So we decided to spend five years living for six months in each of the ten countries that we believe will have the biggest economic impact on the world in the next 20–30 years. We will divide our time between learning about places, working with startups and investors and making early-stage angel investments in the local markets.”

You have to love an approach like that!
Or at least I do that, as a speaker who speak on the need to have a global mindset.

So since they right now are in Singapore I jumped at the opportunity to have them over to learn more about why they doing this epic and hyper-inspirational project.

Meetings like this inspires me to want to learn even more about how to have a global – or should i say, “human’, approach to life and business. Something that I think, and hope, will be felt when I give my talks on this very subject.

Lesson: If you, as a speaker, get more out of teaching (i.e. speaking) than you do out of learning (i.e. interviewing others on the topic you are speaking on) then perhaps it is time to stop speaking.

Screen Shot 2015-09-25 at 01.13.40

(Split, Croatia)

As a global speaker I like to say that a speaker should try to create a speech that works for everyone – a human speech – not have different speeches for different “cultures”, but that doesn’t mean that there are not differences in how audiences behave in different parts of the world.

Take questions for example.

Today I spoke for a few hundred business people in Split, Croatia. The organisers had put in 10 minutes of Q&A at the end of my speech, but also told me before the speech: “If there are no questions we will ask you some questions.” and they also got some copies of my books to give away as “prices” to the people who would ask questions.

Sure enough. After my speech we only got 3 questions (and the first one was “Can you sign the book I get if I ask a question?”)

Have to admit that was a sneaky questions to get a book 😉

Compare that to India, for example, where audiences love to ask questions.

I once did a speech in India where the organisers had put a side 45 minutes for my speech and one hour (!) for Q&A.

When I pointed out to the organisers that the Q&A was longer than the speech, he smiles and said “do not worry, we will have plenty of questions”. (And they did, after 1 hour people were still raising their hands eager to ask more.)

So why do they not ask questions in Croatia?

My client had an interesting theory that it was part of the communist mentality of former Yugoslavia where people where not encouraged to ask too many questions.

So what does this mean for speakers?

Good question 🙂

My lesson for today was to embrace the fact that not all groups are bubbling over with questions, or even if they are, they might not want to ask them in public.

It is easy as a speaker to get uncomfortable at the end of a session if there is a Q&A but not Questions come. I have learnt to not let it get to me. I think it is important that the last message that you send from the stage is not one of being uncomfortable.

Instead, stand there and smile and be happy that you were able to give a speech that was so good that people do not feel a need to have things clarified. (and be prepared that they might just come up to you after the speech and ask that question that they had.)


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San Francisco.

What is the biggest perk of being a speaker?

The chance to travel the world?
The fact that the main work takes one hour per day?
The fact that it pays well?

No. Not at all.

The biggest perk is the privilege to learn about things no one else gets to know.

For example:

The finance industry will probably be the industry that will see the most disruption in the next decade.

Now, imagine if you could be a fly on the wall when the best innovators get together at an innovation conference of a global leader of financial payments facility held in Silicon Valley.

Well, I was that fly. 🙂

Today, I was invited to be the only speaker at VISA’s global innovation award in San Francisco. In this event, they acknowledged the recipients of patents within VISA.

And during lunch, I got to sit next to the boss of the innovation department.

Over cod fish for main dish and chocolate mousse for desert, we talked about everything from VISA’s view on block chain, to who will be the winners and losers in mobile payment – and even where VISA’s big bet for the future is (very interesting and a total surprise to me).

And yes, I could tell you more about it, but then I would have to kill you 😉

Lesson: Our job as speakers is to inspire, teach and inform in order to get companies to move forward.

Interestingly enough, these very same companies will inspire, teach and inform us speakers as much, if not more, if we take the chance to learn when we are at the venue.

I am very happy that I did just that today.

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