How to become better as a speaker

Dear fellow speaker and ProfessionalSpeaking follower.

As mentioned earlier I am not doing weekly episodes of ProfessionalSpeaking any more. After 300 weekly episodes of sharing speaking tips – for free, and without selling anything – I decided to reduce the frequency a bit while I focus on some other projects. I hope you have found value from these free speaking tips, and appreciate the episodes when they do come.

In this episode of Professional Speaking I thought I would share some lessons about writing.

And for this episode I will not do a video, but instead communicate via text and I will not talk about speaking, I will instead write about writing.

While video has become much more important for speakers than it used to be, writing a book is still more or less essential. Not necessarily because people are buying a lot of books (they are not), or because it gives you credibility (it does, but not as much as it used to), but because writing a book is a great way to structure your thoughts and push you to do research.

So how do I look at book writing? As if it was baking. Let me explain.

1) Research (getting all the ingredients in order)
2) Work the text. (Kneed the dough)
3) Let the text rest (letting the dough rest)
4) Send it away (put it into the oven)

Let’s look at them one by one.

1) Research (getting all the ingredients in order)

Many people who have never written a book seem to think that writing a book starts with writing. It doesn’t. It starts with researching. The worst books (with some exceptions) are books where people just wrote down their thoughts on a subject.

Writing a book, if you ask me, is at lest 80% research and perhaps 20% writing.

Interview at least 100 people on the topic you are writing on. Have a folder on your computer (like Evernote) where you keep every article, text, video, information, quote, story etc about the topic you are writing on.

Only 10% or so of all the material you actually collect should be good enough to make it into the book. (And then just 10% of all that made it into the book makes it into the speech.)

A book takes 2-5 years for me to write. But the writing is usually less than 6 months. The rest is research, and me thinking about what I am going to write once I do.

Lesson: Do more research and collect more material than you think you need. Writing is not writing. Writing is research and thoughts on paper.

2) Work the text. (Kneed the dough)

There is no one way to write, but this is how I write: I re-write and re-write and re-write.

Some people make an amazing structure and stick to it.
Some writers write a rough draft, not caring about structure, and then go back and edit.

I start to write as soon as I have an idea of the kind of text I want to create and then, if I stumble on a sentence, I will sit and re-write that one sentence (or paragraph, or page) over and over again until I feel it has the flow I am looking for.

The “Delete” button is most likely the second most key on my keyboard after “Space”…

To me, writing is a joyful way of solving a puzzle, and you can feel it in your soul when the pieces (the words) have fallen into place in the correct order.

Lesson: Writing is not writing. Writing is re-writing. So re-write over and over again.

3) Let the text rest (letting the dough rest)

Writing a book for me takes time. Not because of the writing itself, but because I will let a text “rest” for months on end. When I do write, I write in chunks. I block off 1-2 weeks or more and do almost nothing but write all day. But after a while you get so sucked into the words that you cannot see what you have written. That’s when you need to distance yourself from the text. I can leave a text for months. When I come back to it, I read it as if it was written by someone else, not as if I know every word by heart (which is how it feels when I am in writing mode.)

When I re-visit a text after being away from it for a while it becomes much easier to separate the beautiful sentences from the ugly ones. The ugly ones are the ones that need editing.

Because no matter how much you have re-written a text while you were in writing mode, you can bet that large chunks of it needs to be re-written once you come back to it after giving it a rest. (Most books I re-write multiple times. For one book I did more than 20 edit rounds before sending it to the editor.

Lesson: Give yourself time to take a break from the text to be able to read it with fresh eyes.

4) Send it away (put it into the oven)

No matter how great of an writer you think you are, always send the script away to an external editor. I can not stress enough how important it is to get a professional editor to go through your text. Yes, it can hurt to get all that feedback, but better to get it before the book comes out than after…

Many first time writers will “save” on editor, but please do not do that.

Lesson: Get a professional editor.

Conclusion: As I am writing this I am actually working on 5 books at the same time. One is ready to be published, one is in the final editing stages, and three are in different stages of development. I do not recommend working on five books at the same time – it tends to drag out the time it takes to get them out – but that’s how my brain works…

But know this: never stress a book out. The process of writing a book is the most rewarding part, at least for me. Few things gives you so much satisfaction than to take a huge amount of mumbled up thoughts of yours and then structuring them into a book that clearly communicates those thoughts to other people in a way that gives them value.

Good luck with your book writing – and with your speaking!

Fredrik Haren – The Creativity Explorer and the man behind


In this episode of Professional Speaking I share some of the creative virtual speaking setups that I have been part of recently – including the latest as a “TV news cast” for Canon in South Africa – and make the point that speakers need to be involved in helping to create the most creative set up possible. Virtual gives great opportunities to create inspiring and interesting set ups. So go on and be creative!

Watch on YouTube and on LinkedIn.

Also: Do not miss the 5-hour long FREE online course on YouTube: Master the Keynote. (Totally free. All I ask is that you help spread the word for the course, if you find value in it, and that if you hear of anyone interested in booking a speaker on creativity you think of me 🙂

Become the best speaker you can be.


“Watch yourself speak.” That is one of the most common advice out there for becoming a better speaker if you ask experienced speakers.

And it is probably the advice that beginner speakers ignore the most. They know they should be watching themselves speak. But they don’t.

But you should.

And not only film yourself once and watch it once.

But film yourself often. And watch yourself often.

After 25 years of speaking and more than 2000 speeches delivered, I still do.

But here is the “expert tip”: Watch the SAME speech over and over again.

Because every time you do you will see different aspects. (Just like watching a movie over and over again. Every time you rewatch a movie you notice new things.)

And when you have watched the same speech 10, 15, 20 times then you start to notice small subtle things that you do that you would never notice would you always insist on only watching each speech once or twice.

I have just spent last week re-watching a video of myself speak 4 more times. A speech that I have most likely already seen 50 times – at least.

And yet, every time I watched it this week I found new things to improve – or new things that I notice that I do well.

Because watching yourself speak is not ONLY about identifying things you could do better – which can be difficult for your ego. (And which is the reason that so many beginner speakers “cheat” on watching themselves – they are afraid to hurt that ego…)

But watching yourself over and over is also about identifying what you are doing WELL – and if you look at it that way it becomes easier to “convince yourself” to sit down and watch a speech of yourself speaking over and over again.

So now go and find that speech of yours and watch it again. And again. And again.


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