Author: Fredrik Haren

(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.


I have heard many speakers give the advice that the best way to connect with an audience is to pick ONE person in the audience and speak to her. To lock in eye-contact with the one person in the room that looks the happiest to be there.

The argument is that by getting good vibes from that one person will spread to the rest of the group, and if you just speak too a big mass of non-identified bodies, then you will not communicate the same intimate feeling from the stage that you would get if you connect with one person.

I am not a big fan of that advice.

First of all I think you should scan the audience for as many facial expressions as possible. Look for happy faces, sad faces, angry faces, bored faces. It will tell you how the audience is feeling. And If you are going to have a conversation with a group of people you need to know how the group is feeling.

(Identifying the “happy face” in the audience might put you in a totally wrong mood if the rest of the audience is very stressed, for example. (Let’s say most of the audience just lost their job for example, then connecting with the happy person who got to keep his job might be the totally wrong thing to do.)

So do not pick one person to speak to – speak to the whole group. (and try to get eye contact with as many people as possible as you do that.)

Now having said that, I do think you should speak specifically to one person in the group. And that is the person who booked you.

Very often the person who recommended me to the speaker committee will be in the room when I give the speech. That is the person I speak to.

Because that is the person who went out on a limb to get me to speak.

If I screw up, then he (or she) is toast.
If I do a great speech, then that person reaps the rewards.

The very best review you can get as a speaker is when the person who recommended you comes back to you and says: “Everyone came up to me and asked: where did you find this guy!?”

It is not every time that you will know who recommended you to speak, but if you find out who it was, then make an effort to be introduced to that person and make sure you do a separate “speaker brief” with him or her.

Why did he (or she) think that you would be a great fit for this conference?
What did he (or she) like about your speech the last time they heard you?
Is there anything this person thinks that you should know about the audience?

To it right and you will deliver a great speech to the one person who thought you would be perfect for this conference. And by doing that there is a very big chance that the rest of the audience will like the speech too.

Lesson: Who got you the speech? Find that person. Learn from that person. Speak to that person (Both before the speech, and then speak TO that person when you are delivering your speech.) and you will be a hit.

Today I got one such email. It read.

“People loved Fredrik’s speech. Many of them kept asking me how we got him as he is so unique and got a very special sense of humour. Our Summit ended on a high note because of Fredrik”.

Mission accomplished.