How to become better as a speaker

I am a strong believer of writing speeches that works on people from all over the world. The reason for this is, as a global speaker, I speak all over the world (I spoke in 24 countries last year alone). But also because many speaking assignments for professional speakers will be for international/global audiences (meaning people in the audience will be from many different countries).

For both these scenarios (speaking globally, and speaking for international groups) you need to have a speech that is universally human – a speech that goes to the core of humanity.

I recently delivered a new speech (a speech I had never delivered before) and I knew the audience would be diverse (from 14 different countries from 4 continents).
So how did I know that the speech would land?

I tested it on 4 people from 4 different countries. An American, a Frenchman, an Indian, and a Filipino.

And when I say “tested” it I mean I ran through the whole speech – one-on-one with a member of the audience to get their feedback BEFORE I went.

To get feedback before your speech – let’s call that “forwardfeed” – is crucial so that when you do go up on stage many of the “wrinkles” that you could find in your speech yourself get wrinkled out.

The funny thing is that all the different people who gave me input on what to change gave DIFFERENT input. That is the beauty of testing out a speech on people that are not only different from yourself, but also different from each other. The more different the better.

See something strange with this picture?

Yes, all the seats are facing each other, not the stage.

That makes it harder for the speaker to connect.

But the really unusual set up is that the boss has a chair facing the OPPOSITE way.

There is a big LED TV so he can see the slides, but to see the speaker (and for the speaker to see him) he has to decide to turn around…

So how to deal with this as a speaker?

I saw this set up the night before my speech and considered having them change the layout of the room, but it was not an option.

To make the room work better I decided to:

1) Keep the energy up from the start to get the chairman to turn his chair around to see what was happening

2) Walk into the room a few times during the speech to create a better human connection with the room.

3) Network with the senior leaders (the ones that would be sitting in the blue chairs) during the dinner to have a personal rapport with them.

Lesson: You can not always change the room to how you want it so then work with what you got.

What is the most intimidating set-up you have ever spoken at? How did you resolve it? Email me at


** Announcement: Read the end of this post for a special announcement about mentoring! **

“Call for approach” means that you – during the speech, and preferably close to the end – give the audience a reason to come up to you after the speech.

You could say things like: “I am writing a book on xxx and would love to hear your examples, please approach me after my speech if you have a good story”, or “If you want more examples do not be afraid to approach me after the speech.”

The reason for the “call for approach” is that many audience members are afraid to approach a speaker. They might be shy, introverted, intimidated or even star struck. By giving them permission to approach you you encourage them to come up – giving you valuable opportunities to connect, network and research.

I promise you you will get more people coming up to you after your speech, and by people approaching you you will get more stories you can use, more connections you can nurture and more leads you can use.


** Special announcement: After 5 years of giving free advise on Professional Speaking but saying “no” to all requests for mentoring I have decided to take on a FEW mentees to help them build a global speaking career. If you are interested in knowing more send me an email **