Blog Nordic Business Forum 2018 Past Events

#NBForum2018 Speaker Protips

Our brand new Speaker Sourcing Contest has hit the ground running this year, and it’s hard to believe that we are already in the home stretch. The contest, which set out to find individuals with fresh perspectives and management ideas and give them a platform to speak, is coming to a close on Wednesday 15 August with the final round in Sweden. (Sign up for the free event here!)

In May and June 2018, we hosted qualifying rounds in Helsinki, Stockholm, and Oslo. Two audience favorites from each location were selected for the final round in Stockholm.

Over 170 people applied to our 2018 contest, 24 people were selected to attend the qualifying rounds, and now it’s down to the final 6 contestants. One of these talented individuals will join our Nordic Business Forum 2018 speaker lineup and will be paid a 30,000 € speaking fee.

Ahead of the Wednesday final, we have been reflecting on the contest’s journey so far One of the guiding principles of it has been a quote from Maya Angelou. She beautifully described the power of an effective communicator – and compassionate human being – when she said that “people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” We try to embody that same spirit at NBForum and all our events. But for an aspiring speaker, what does that mean in practice? How do you keep your cool and be an effective speaker?

Luckily, it’s not our job to answer that… but we happen to know some people who can!

How to be an Effective Speaker & Others Words to the Wise

“Get out of your own head and get out of your own knowledge and try to put yourselves in the position of a person sitting in the audience who knows very little about your topic. Be someone who has not done the research, has not done the work, is sitting there naive but interested. Think about what you want them to conclude or take away, or how you want them to look at the world differently after your x-minutes on stage. And then work backward from there.”

Andrew McAfee, author and co-founder of the MIT Initiative on the Digital Economy.

“Just be yourself. There’s a reason people wanted to hear you speak, so come out and just be yourself. Be authentic. Don’t try to do things that are out of your reach. If your basic skill set is mechanical, talk about mechanical things. That’s why people came to listen to you.”

Aswath Damodaran, a professor at the Stern School of Business.

“Know your content. That’s number one. People say, do I get nervous? And I never do because I know what I’m talking about. If I were to ever get nervous, it would be because I was unsure about what I was saying. Number two is, don’t say platitudes. People say in speeches, ‘You need to focus on your customer.’ With any statement where there isn’t an alternative point of view discussed, there’s no point saying it. It has no meaning at all. Three is, don’t take credit for things that you didn’t come up with. Don’t tell me you invented a term that you didn’t. But, do make sure that you understand all of the content and other work that’s been done in the area where you’re speaking. Number four, tell stories. People learn through actual stories where meaning really comes to life. And number five, I always try and use some humor. You need to get the audience enjoying themselves. And that’s you go a long way to winning them over. Make it an enjoyable thing.”

Don Tapscott, media theorist and author.

“Number one, you will be effective to the extent you really care and are compassionate about the challenges facing the people you’re addressing. If you really care about making a difference in their life and helping them multiply their own human impact, helping them deal with the frustrations they have in their everyday environment, then I think you’re likely to be effective. If you’re living merely in the world of ideas and if this is about your intellectual curiosity or demonstrating your intellectual credibility or credentials, then you may be interesting, you may be entertaining, but you’re unlikely to be effective. Empathy and compassion are the first and most important things for any speaker. And then the second thing is being able to escape conventional wisdom because, if you want to help individuals with difficult and persistent problems, you have to recognize that if those problems are difficult and persistent, we’re not going to solve them with more of the same. You have to look outside of that problem area. You have to look at other fields of science. You have to look at other disciplines. You have to look in other places to discover helpful answers.”

Gary Hamel, a professor at the London Business School and director at Management Lab.

“Speak about something that you care deeply about because, if you’re passionate about something, then your energy and your interest in the subject will come forth. And when you are passionate about something, everybody sits up in their seat and pays attention. Also, remember, people want to hear stories. We are animals that evolved listening to stories. Long before there was anything written down, we told stories. It’s important even in a short talk to tell a story because that’s what people want to hear – so make it a good one. That’s my advice. Be passionate, tell a story.”

John Mackey, co-founder & CEO of Whole Foods Market.

“Be yourself. Listen to the audience. Speak from the heart. I’ve always been a social person so when I speak, I pretend I’m having a conversation with a small group of people. I am always myself and try to get people to laugh, which works most of the time. Plus, speaking from the heart is so much more impactful than reading a promoter or cue card.”

Lindsey Vonn, Olympic Gold Medalist, Alpine Skiing & Founder of the Lindsey Vonn Foundation.

“I think the best advice probably that I’ve ever got is you have to nail your takeoff and your landing, and if you can do that, then everything in the middle will turn out just fine. If you don’t nail your takeoff and your landing, it doesn’t really matter what you say in the middle. Spend 80% of your time and effort on your takeoff and your landing.”

Marcus Buckingham, author, journalist, and entrepreneur.

“Focus on what are you are giving your audience instead of how you’re being judged. It really doesn’t matter at all what they think of you. It matters what you’re able to give to them. And of course, the paradox of that is, the more you really can operate that way, the better people will judge you in the end. But that’s really not even the point. I used to get really nervous before speaking. I don’t so much now. But when I do feel the butterflies come back, I laugh and tell myself, ‘I know that there is at least one person in this audience whose child will maybe live a better life, or who will reach higher goals at work or something, because of some of what I’m hoping to share today.’ And if that happens for only one person, then it’s good. Of course, I’m hoping it’ll happen to way more than one person. But having that goal out there really gives me that kind of conviction.”

Susan Cain, author and co-founder of the Quiet Revolution.

About the Speaker Sourcing Contest

The Speaker Sourcing Contest is Nordic Business Forum’s new initiative to find individuals with fresh perspectives and management ideas and give them a platform to speak – it’s a way to crowdsource talent on an entirely new scale and bring to light some of the best that business has to offer. In May and June 2018, we hosted qualifying rounds in Helsinki, Stockholm, and Oslo. Two audience favorites from each location were selected for the final round in Stockholm.

The final will take place on Wednesday 15 August in which 6 finalists will speak about this year’s themes of strategy, peak performance, and artificial intelligence.

Are you able to join us for it? It’s a free event that is packed full of really high-quality content. It’s the perfect opportunity to learn more about Nordic Business Forum conference material and give you the chance to network with other attendees for a fun and relaxed social evening. And, most importantly, if you get there before the first speech, you can participate in the voting process to decide on the winner!

Interested in attending? Here’s what you need to know:

What: Speaker Sourcing Contest Final
When: 15 August 2018, from 15:00 to 18:00 CEST
Where: Coor Conference Center, Tegelbacken 4A, 111 52 Stockholm
Agenda: see the lineup here
Entry: FREE! Just bring yourself.

Not able to join us in person? Don’t worry, we will be live-streaming the event on and our social media platforms. If you tune in at 15:00 CEST sharp, you will be able to vote for your favorite speaker at the end of the show!

Join the FREE event >


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