Interview with Marijne (10) pupil of De Vuurtoren primary school
How long have you been a speaker?
I have been a speaker for 10 years. Or should I say: I have been a professional speaker for 10 years now. Before that, I also did it for work, but I didn’t get paid for it. When you work as a professional speaker, you are hired to give information, to inspire and to make people think. That could be at a conference, a company event or a customer relations day.
Can everyone become a good speaker?
This is a good question. In fact, anyone can become a good speaker. Take a subject that interests you and make a presentation about it. But to become a really good speaker, you need talent. So you can practise a lot by standing in front of a group of people with your presentations and learning from them. In this way, everyone can become a good speaker.
But to become a speaker who can really inspire, motivate and make people think; you almost have to make it your job. It takes a lot of practice. And again: talent.
Maybe you have noticed that you tell something at a birthday party and a lot of people listen. Then you probably have talent as a professional speaker. And what is also very important is a great curiosity. You have to have that, because then you can often talk about new things.
What should you never do as a speaker? What are the pitfalls?
An important pitfall as a speaker is to think that everyone in the room has as much knowledge as you do. That you can’t step out of your own knowledge bubble as a speaker and you can’t put yourself in the audience’s shoes. The second pitfall is that people think speakers only have to convey information. Whereas: a presentation is often also about conveying a feeling, stimulating thoughts. As a speaker, you receive the most valuable thing you can get from people: their attention. As a speaker, you can use that to take them to a certain point. Or to sketch out scenarios that are inspiring, or that people find a little bit scary.
How do you become a famous speaker?
I don’t know if there is a fixed way to become a famous speaker. First of all, it is important that you choose a subject that you like to read and talk about. A subject that you, as a speaker, can tell about hundreds, maybe even thousands, of times. Because if it is not a subject that interests you, the work as a speaker cannot be sustained. You have to be enthusiastic yourself. Secondly, it is important that you have a good website and your own social media channels. That way, people can follow you and you build up your own audience. And when newspapers or TV programmes call you, you automatically become something of a well-known speaker. But it should not be the main motive to become a speaker. Because then you’d better start a Youtube Vlog.
How do you prepare yourself?
As a professional speaker you always have a preliminary discussion with your clients. They tell you who the audience is, why the event is being organised and what they would like to hear from you as a speaker. You then get to work on this. Then I choose two or three headings, messages, feelings that I would like to convey and then I read about them or watch videos to create an extra good story. But I don’t have any fixed rituals as a speaker or anything like that.
What topics do you speak about?
I speak about everything that has to do with digitisation and the future. Think about the Internet, smartphones, smart devices, what people do online, social media and very smart computers and what our future looks like.
What should organisers look for when booking a speaker?
When you want to book someone as a speaker, you start of course on Google. You can check whether this speaker has already spoken somewhere before and whether he or she therefore has experience. To assess whether someone is a good speaker, you can then watch videos of this speaker, for example.
And as an organiser you can then think: will my audience like this speaker? It is often also a matter of feeling. You can also look at the speaker’s social media channels. What does he or she write about? Are there many or few people who follow this speaker? And I think it helps to give the speaker a call. Speak on the phone. Then you can usually feel whether there is a click and whether you have found a speaker who would like to work with you. That too is a feeling.
What tips do you have for speakers with little experience?
First of all, ask yourself what appeals to you in your work. Why am I doing this? Because you really need to be motivated inside to do the work as a speaker. The four tips I have for a speaker with little experience? Make sure you get on a stage as much as possible to practise. In coronation time, that can also be online. But later it will certainly be on the real stage. Look at lectures by other speakers on Youtube. What do you think they do well and what would you never do? And see if you can find a website somewhere with lots of visitors and if you can write articles for this website. This will put you in the picture for others. You can also take a course as a speaker, but I have never done that.
How do you see the future of your field? Will speaking permanently be all online?
No, I don’t think so. People want to continue to meet each other. If Corona has made anything clear, it is this. Some of the speaking profession will stay online, but most of it will go back to how it was. The important thing is: People will always be interested in stories. People want to hear a good story, an inspiring speaker. A speaker who takes them away with thoughts or ideas they hadn’t thought of yet. That is the best part of being a speaker.