Love to Speak, Dare to Fail!

A guest at Nordic Business Forum 2012 told me why he came to Jyväskylä for two days. “There are so many top speakers. I also give a lot of speeches – I hope to get new ideas I can use!”

I am sure he did. I am also glad that NBF strongly upholds its presentation skills theme. Many of the speakers spoke about presentation skills. For example, Jari Sarasvuo showed by his own hands how “distractions” in an auditorium are harnessed into serving the situation. Esa Saarinen openly spoke about a speaker’s workday and how the intensity on the one hand can load, yet on the other hand can exhaust a speaker.

Every speaker brought his very own mixture of mastery to the stage. Daniel Pink showed his humbleness by having truly made his homework, throwing in clever hints at Finland – he even quoted a Facebook status update in Finnish! I was impressed by Brian Tracy’s disciplined, compact and versatile way of speaking, which advanced as a passionate flow tightly grabbing the audience’s attention.

In antiquity it was taught, that one of the best ways to evolve as a speaker is imitation. It’s mimicking, copying – learning from the best role models.

When we meet a good speaker, we often feel a WOW!

Too often we stop there – we keep on wondering without asking the next question: “What was it that made the speech so excellent?”

We should be like children who, after seeing the magic lamp, ask: “How did he do that? Tell me, tell me, I want to know!”

Speakers´ tricks are often as “easy” as those of magicians. Speaking is a multi-appearance event, but far from black magic. Masters are masters, because they do things the right way – just like a top class formula one driver or a world-famous violinist.

Here is another foundation for learning how to give a speech: knowing the laws of speaking.

Besides Daniel Pink, other foreigners hinted at Finland. They knew that one of the “rules” is to build a bridge between oneself and the audience. Every speaker applied this rule in his or her own way. Brian Tracy mocked Nokia so many times for plummeting, that someone might have thought it nearly annoying.

Hans Rosling quoted Paavo of Saarijärvi, a folklore hero, and recommended spending leisure time in the future playing Angry Birds with grandchildren. It was delicious to see different speakers provide unique modification of the same principle.

Two seminar guests helped me write this article, Titta Pitman and Ulla Vilkman. Both are professional presenters and speakers, who also have succeeded in speech contests of the Junior Chamber of Commerce. We formed a list of facts we could learn from the cavalcade of the NBF. We dare to claim these seven rules will take you far – if you put the knowledge into action. Herein lies the third way of progressing as a speaker: practice.

Don’t be afraid of presenting and don’t be afraid of failing. This was the message of Jyri Häkämies, who spoke at the seminar: if you do not dare to fail, your comfort zone will not expand.

What, if your next speech turns out a whole lot different than any of those you’ve given before?


About the writer: Juhana Torkki is an author of the books Puhevalta & Tarinan valta and Finland’s utmost authority on public speaking.

This article is from the August 2013 issue of Nordic Business Report. Read the full magazine here »

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