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(Barcelona, Spain)

Today I was the keynote speaker on the second day of the global customer conference for Qmatic (a company that offers solutions for better consumer experiences). 300+ delegates from 50 countries had flown in to Barcelona for a two day conference. Needless to say this is the most important conference of the year for the company.

Since I was speaking on Day 2 the conference delegates where already in a certain state of mind after spending Day 1 together. Unfortunately I had not been able to attend Day 1 (since I was speaking in Omaha, Nebraska on Tuesday so I spent Wednesday on planes). (And to be honest, it’s quite unusual for a speaker to “hang around” the day before his speech, since that would mean the client would have to pay for two days, and most would not like to do that.)

But with today’s way of organising conferences it is quite often still possible to get an idea of what the attendees got to listen to on Day 1. The solution is called video. Often the conference organisers will film the speakers in order to put together a conference movie to be uploaded to YouTube after the conference as documentation of what happened, and as marketing for next year’s conference. So if you ask the conference organisers (or the video guys) if you can get access to those movies when you arrive to quickly look through some of them they will most often let you watch them.

For the conference I spoke at today they had even uploaded 1 hour of it on YouTube so I could watch the keynotes from my hotel room in the morning of Day 2 (YouTube even have the handy feature of showing a video in 1.5X speed so that it goes faster to watch them).

And it was a good thing that I watched it.

Turns out that:

  • One of the speakers had referenced me in his speech (Now I could re-reference that reference in my speech)
  • One speaker had showed a robot on stage (Good for me to know since I was going to talk about how robot technology have developed over recent years.)
  • One speaker had mentioned a new type of toilet (Good for me since I was going to talk about a urinal in my speech (don’t ask ;-).)
  • A series of speakers had mentioned the words “innovation” and “creativity” in their speeches (Good for me to know since my topic for this speech was “business creativity” and I now could refer back to how the speakers on Day 1 had talked about how important innovation and creativity was.)
  • And so on.

Because I could do so many references back to the first day the audiences got the feeling that I had been there Day 1 too. And my message became more credible since I could connect my message with the message from the first day.

So speaker hack of the day is: If you are speaking on Day 2 of a conference ask to see some video clips from Day 1 on the morning of Day 2. That makes it easier to “connect” with the audience since they get the feeling you were “with them” Day 1 too.

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(New York, USA)

As a speaker should you try to provok your audience? Can you, for example, provoke Americans about 9/11 in a speech?

I am guessing many people would say “No”.

Well, today I did. For an audience of American bankers (on Manhattan!) I provoked them about why it took the USA so long to rebuild the World Trade Center.

The ability to provoke is one of the most powerful – and therefor also one of the most dangerous – tools we have in our toolkits as speakers.

Some speakers look at “provokation” as a dirty word, as a way of giving rise to a negative or unwelcome emotion.

They look at it as something evoking a negative respons that we as speakers should not aim for.

I see it differently.

To me the ability to provoke is a beautiful thing.

For even if “provoke” mostly has a negative connotation is can also mean to “stimulate or incite (someone) to do or feel something.”

And to “Stimulate someone to feel something” is the essence of what we do as speakers.

To be able to use provokation as a tool we first have to understand how it works.

Push the audience to become a little bit provoked and you get them to feel something, which makes it easier for them to take in a new message.
Push them too far and you loose the audience as they turn on you.

I have illustrated the effect in this simple graph:

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The trick is to stay on the right side of “The Line of Provokation.” – or I guess I should say “stay on the correct side”, as you should aim to stay on the LEFT side, not go to the RIGHT… ;-D

So how to you know where the line is?

You don’t, and that is what makes this technique so difficult to use.

You basically have to “feel” the audience to get a feeling of how far you can take them along the road of provokation.

But, you might ask yourself: Why use a technique that tricky to use and which risks having the audience turn on you?

Because when it works it’s so powerful.

And the real magic comes when you learn to balance just on the edge of the line of provokation.

When you push them and JUST as they are starting to turn on you, you pull back and create a “safer” environment only to go back to pushing again as the audiences starts to feel more comfortable.

It’s like dancing with tigers. One wrong move and you get cut badly.

So why do it: Because when it works, it creates one hell of an impact.

Lesson: Don’t cross the line of provokation – but stay as close to it as you can.

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I am from Sweden, I live in Singapore, just flew in from Brazil to Portugal where I am going to look up a street address in Zurich on Google map.

When I open maps.google.com they show me a map of the USA…

Here is the funny thing. Google knows all of the facts above.

They know I am from Sweden, they know I live in Singapore, they know I last checked in from Brazil and that I am now checking in from Portugal. Heck, they even know that I am soon flying to Zurich (as their latest feature in Google Calendar is to automatically post flight information in your calendar that they have picked up from Gmail…)

And yet they show me a map of the country where their HQ is located.

Why?

When I recently was entering “United Square” in my Uber app the first suggestion the app suggests was “United States”…

United Square is a shopping centre in Singapore, I am based in Singapore and I was doing the search on the Uber app in Singapore. Yet somehow they think I want to take a taxi ride to the country of America?

Why?

Back to Google.

So which map SHOULD Google map be showing? (you could argue that they show the USA because they do not know what location I want them to show)

They could show:

– the location I am checking in from (to give me a sense of location)

– Show the location of my home (to give me a sense of roots)

– Show me the last location I looked at (to give me a sense of time)

– Show me the location they think I want to look at (based on previous searches) (to give a sense of foresight)

– Show a random place on earth (to give a sense of humanity)

Any of the above would be better than showing the home country of the HQ of their company (which is all about them – not me – and which is totally, and utterly irrelevant to me.)

Yes, these are small bugs in their systems.

But they show a fundamental flaw in how businesses might have mastered “going global”, but not “thinking global” – or more specifically not “thinking human”.

Business should be built around the user. Not the company.

Solutions should be build for humans – not nationalities.

Our visions should be limitless – not confined by borders.

 

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