Speak slowly and carry a big smile


Yesterday I gave a speech to a group of Scandanavian telecom execs in Helsinki. My good friends at Nokia invited me to keynote at their annual Winterconference client event. As I prepared for the trip and consulted with Erich Hugo from Nokia, he had one simple piece of advice for me: speak slowly. Everyone in the audience can speak English, but it is not their native language. To speak slowly is to be “user friendly” and will increase my chances of making a connection with this group. As obvious as this advice is, I should take it not just here, but everywhere. When a speaker goes to fast the audience is frequently left behind. It is natural to motor through a talk, especially if you don’t have scads of time to give it. I’ve learned that the secret to speaking slower is pacing. When I gave the talk, I patterned my speech after my heartbeat — which is slow and methodical. I also resisted too much coffee. Finally, I stretched out completely ten minutes before my talk, which released the nervous energy that might make me hyper.

My other piece of advice is also obvious, but often forgotten: Smile. Do it when you take the stage. Smile back at an audience member that is smiling to you. Many times we are so passionate about our subject or the problem we are discussing, we display a frown and that is off putting to an audience, regardless of which country you are in. I’ve learned that you need to convey, “I like you” to an audience for them to open up and give your ideas a chance.

These two pieces of advice helped me be successful here and make some new friends for life. This will not only work when you give a speech, it will help in any meeting in your business life.

PS — the above picture is an Indonesian piece of art displayed at Helsinki’s Museum Of Modern Art.

Recommended read: Give Your Speech, Change The World by Nick Morgan