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…)


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 fredrik@fredrikharen.com


** 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 fredrik@fredrikharen.com **