A tale of feeling like a failing speaker.

A while back I did a speech that I personally did not rank as one of my best ones.
It was for a big crowd (more than 1000 people in the audience) and for a conference that books some of the best speakers in the world.

I was so happy to have been booked at this prestigious and well organised event – but after the speech I called my wife and told her: “I fucked it up.”

A few days ago I got the evaluation that the speaker had sent to the speaker bureau. It read:

“Fredrik was amazing. He was well prepared and his presentation style was outstanding. A true professional. One of the best speakers I have dealt with.”
So did I screw up the speech or did I nail it?

The answer is both.

As a professional speaker we have to think like a gymnast: Only a perfect 10 is acceptable. We have to aim for that. If people do not say: “This was the best speech I have heard in my life” you still have work to do.

But at the same time we need to be able to make peace with the fact that even when you do not deliver that perfect speech, it can still have been acceptable.

Someone at a speaker bureau once said: “The best speakers are the speakers with a highest level of low level.” In other words: The speakers who have the ability to deliver quality content every time, even when they do not feel that they nailed it.

My lesson from this speech is that we constantly need to analyse every single aspect of our speeches to figure out what can be improved on every single delivery. But that we – at the same time – need to do that without beating ourselves up to the degree that we start to question our ability to do what we do.

Great feedback does not mean you could not have been much, much better.
Aiming at becoming better does not mean you are terrible.

So look yourself in the mirror after every speech and honestly ask yourself: What worked? What could I have done better? How can this speech make me a better speaker for the rest of my life?
Then get back up on that horse/stage and try to be even better next time.

ps. I hope 2019 was a great year for your professional speaking career. Follow ProfessionalSpeaking.com in 2020 for more free, professional advise on professional speaker by a professional speaker with 20+ years experience of speaking more than 2000 times in 70 different counties.


If you want to become a global keynote speaker this post is for you.

I am honoured and humbled to have been selected as the Opening Keynote speaker at the Global Speakers Summit to speak on the topic of “The Global Keynote Speaker Mindset”.

The Global Speakers Summit (GSS) is the conference of The Global Speakers Federation happening in amazing country of Namibia in 21-24 February 2020.

This is the third time in a row I have been selected as a speaker for the GSS. Second time in a row as the Opening Speaker.

Join me in Namibia in February and learn from me and many others how you too can become a global keynote speaker! Sign up at www.GSS2020.com


ps. In 2019 alone I was invited to speak in 24 countries on 5 continents and in total I have spoken in 70 countries – so I do think I will have some insights to share on how you can become a global keynote speaker. 😉

Normally  on this blog I share about what I learn about being a professional speaker by sharing my experiences of speaking. But this week I wanted to share about an event where you can learn from me live in person.



Today’s episode is about how to deliver a speech when you have people sitting around you and you stand in the middle: a very unusual stage set-up, but one that seems to gain in popularity.

In the last month I have done two speeches where the setting has built around a “round stage” (ie where the audience is sitting around you)

The first time was for 1600+ people at the Superannuation conference in Australia (big gala-lunch setting). The second time was on Monday for 100 top managers of Johnson & Johnson in China (intimate workshop setting).

Both times I was there to deliver a keynote speech.

The round stage is great for the audience. It creates a closeness to the stage.

As a speaker it makes it harder.

My first tip is to not get intimidated. Many speakers who go up on a round stage get scared. And fear shows.

How to conquer the intimidation:

1) Spend more time on the stage during rehearsal than you normally would. (To get used to it)

2) Turn around so that everyone gets to see your face (of course) but do not turn around ALL the time. See it as a dance.

3) If there are cameras: Make sure you look at the camera so that people who are facing you back can still see your face on the screen.)

4) If (!) there is one part of the room where less people are sitting spend a bit (!) more time facing the opposite way (ie so that that space gets more of your “back”, but not too much.)

5) Do NOT mention the fact that you are on a round stage, that you are feeling awkward “showing you my ass”, etc. Never draw attention to the fact that you are a speaker on a stage. It distracts from your message.

6) USE the fact that the round stage set-up makes the audience come closer to you which gives you an opportunity to engage more and closer with more audience members. Make them FEEL that they are sitting closer to the stage, otherwise the whole purpose of the round stage-set up is lost.