The business of speaking

Last night I released a video that I have worked on for months.

I had 2 cameramen following me around the world to capture my work as a global keynote speaker.
(They went with me to 4 countries during a total of 10 days.)

All in all I used clips from my trips around from over 10 countries: From North Korea to The Maldives.

You can watch the video here:

I am sharing this video with you as an example of how a “Speaker showreel” does not have to look like a “speaker showreel”.
Yes, I am showing some clips of me on the stage for a few seconds at the end of the video, but the vibe of the video is not about me as a professional speaker – it is about me as “The Creativity Explorer”.

I think people are much more interested in a topic – than in a speaker. So instead I created a “trailer” for “The Creativity Explorer”.

I hope it will work as an inspiration for how you could create your own video

ps. Keep developing every aspect of your professional speaking career. Work on all aspects of your business – including the videos! – so that you are ready when the market comes back.

Here is the link to the video again:


Due to the Corona virus outbreak many conferences in Asia have been cancelled or moved in the last few days. It is understandable. Companies and event organisers care about the health of their delegates and many people prefer “safe over sorry”.

So what does that mean for speakers? Missed speaking gigs? For sure.

In the last week I have personally had three keynote speeches in Asia cancelled (or more specifically moved) on very short notice (speeches that where supposed to happen this month but that will not happen later in 2020.)

So what does this mean for speakers and what should speakers do?

I have been a professional speaker for 25 years. I have seen the ups and down of the speaking industry. The dot-com bust (when I spoke about the Internet…), the global financial crises, moving to China in 2005 when there was a very underdeveloped speaking market there and so on.

In bad times companies tend to reduce conferences and the booking of speakers. So should we as speakers now suddenly change our strategy?

I say: No.

My advise is to no not let temporary financial movements change your long term strategy.

If you got into speaking as a way to build a business, then, sure, think as a business person. But if you got into speaking to spread a message (which I think is the right reason to become a speaker) then focus on spreading that message.

So you get some free time because a few clients cancelled? Great, more time to, for example. write that book you want to write.

After 25 years of spreading my message it is my strong conviction that as long as a speaker continues to be true to his/her inner voice and keep developing content that the speaker thinks the world needs to hear – then the world will listen. And the world will be willing to pay to listen.

So will we as speakers have more time now to spread our message in other ways, by getting time to write that book, by finding more time to do those interviews, to record those videos and write those web articles? Well, great!

We are speakers to spread our message. So let’s spread it in the way that we can. And when the world is ready to book conferences, and pay for speakers again then we are more ready than ever to get up on that stage and do just that.

Do not chase the money. chase the message.

Play the long game.

So does that mean you should just ignore making money, not adapt to changing circumstances, and not business develop as a speaker? Of course not.

But it does mean that, I think, you should not let that be your guiding star. In a storm it becomes more important than ever to remember where you are going and why. Do not forget that just because the wind is picking up.

Do not let a virus knock you off course. Instead use these new opportunities to develop even better ways to spread your message to the world. When life gives you Corona, turn it into CoronRitas!

ps. At the moment the conferences being cancelled are mostly in China/South East Asia. In the rest of the world nothing has really changed, at least not yet. Unless the Corona outbreak goes into a true global pandemic other parts of the world should be fine/safe. As a global speaker I am now just spending more time following up with clients and potential leads in other parts of the world. Yet another reason to have a global mindset as a speaker. (Picture of me and Andrew Vine of The Insight Bureau planning strategies for speaking more in Europe next few months over a couple of CoronRitas…)


The last few weeks I have delivered a couple of workshops for SMU Academy (the adult education arm of Singapore Management University.)

As a “pure” keynote speaker i focus almost exclusively on keynote speeches and do seldom do workshops, but for SMU I make an exception.

In this post I will explain way:

Please note that I am not teaching the university students, but as part of the ADULT program for executives and working professionals.

The reason I focus on those programs is that the participants are all working professionals which means they all come from real jobs in real industries.

By doing the SMU Academy workshops I get do meet managers from many different companies which:

a) gives me potential leads for follow up business from these companies (broad lead generation)
b) gives me the ability to in one day learn about ways many different companies are working with creativity and innovation (rapid collection of examples)
c) gives me an understanding about what companies are interested in learning more about (rapid market research)

As a person who wants to focus on being a keynote speaker I do not sell or market workshops. But for SMU I make an exception for the reasons mentioned above.

Lesson: If you can get access to an executive education program in a university of good reputation it can be great for your speaking career – and your brand – to deliver a workshop to the corporate clients that attend those programs. That is tip of the day from Professional Speaking.