Interviews and Speeches


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Sawubona: I see you

Sawubona is a Zulu word that means, “I see you.” Not just that you are here in front of me, but that you are a person with a history and hopes and dreams just like me. Speakers should practice sawubona every time they speak to an audience.

Public speaking for success

In this interview on Duksacopy TV, I discuss why public speaking is a critical skill for personal and professional success. I explain why storytelling is an important way in which speakers can get their message to stick in the minds of their audience members. I also share several other tips, such as how to have an effective opening and closing for your speech or presentation, and why pauses are important in a speech.
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Rhetoric - The Public Speaking Game

Speaking in public is a frightening experience for many people. Yet, being able to communicate one’s ideas in public is an important and sought-after skill. In this interview, I discuss how Rhetoric – The Public Speaking Game™ can help you become a better speaker and have fun in the process! It’s a great way to use gamification to tame those public speaking nerves. To date, the app version can be played in six languages and has three themes.

Three steps to write your speech

Preparation is the foundation of a successful speech or presentation. Whenever I have a speaking engagement, I always ask myself a series of questions that include the following: What is my relationship to the audience? What is the audience’s relationship to the subject? What is my objective? What is my message and why should the audience care?
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How to give a speech in another language

With the global economy, many people have to give presentations in a language that is not their mother tongue. I do a lot of public speaking in French and have also given talks in Italian, German and Arabic. I am never as comfortable in those languages because English is my mother tongue. But when you have to speak in another languages, there are things that you can do to ensure your success.

Should I use PowerPoint?

There is nothing inherently wrong with PowerPoint or any slide presentation software. It is a tool and, as is the case with any tool, you have to use it at the right time, in the right way, for the right job. There are many, simple things that you can do to improve your PowerPoint slides. When used well, they are effective.
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The most important thing the speaker can do for the audience

Every speech, every presentation should be about the audience. The audience is more important than the speaker, the speaker’s business, the speaker’s product or the speaker’s ideas. Speakers need to be 100% present for their audiences. When they are, audiences appreciate it and that’s when great things can happen.

The power of public speaking

Good public speaking is a critical skill whether you do it live or via video. In this interview, I discuss why I became a professional speaker and why everyone should improve their speaking skills. I also discuss examples of good and bad speeches. Finally, I share a few key tips for anyone who wants to make an impact with their speeches and presentations, including the importance of preparation and the power of simplicity.
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How to manage anxiety

Many people are nervous when they have to speak in public. In this shared interview with my good friend and fellow speaker, Tony Anagor, we share insights on how to manage anxiety when you give a speech or presentation. We discuss how being nervous is natural and how you can use your breathing to settle those nerves.


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Graduation day

I had the privilege of speaking to 700 people at TEDxLausanne. At the time, I had just decided to step away from a secure job at the World Health Organization to become a professional speaker. I drew a metaphor between my uncertainly about the future to the uncertainty that students face when they graduate. Any day can be Graduation Day if we want to seize the opportunities that life gives us.

The importance of service

In this keynote address, I share a humorous personal story—my father is from Budapest—as well as a story about an incredible woman named Oseola McCarty. I then relate the stories to a deeper message about the importance of service to others. It is good to have a purpose in life. However, for purpose to have real meaning, it should serve others in some way.
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Evaluation speech

This short speech won the Toastmasters European Championship for evaluations. The purpose of this speech was to evaluate a target speaker. Contestants had to provide feedback about what they liked about the speech and why. They also had to provide constructive criticism on how the speech could be improved.

Humorous speech

This speech won the Toastmasters European Championship for humorous speeches. It was about the difficulty that husbands have giving their wives feedback. I had a lot fun giving it and the audience was just great. Almost too great! They laughed so much in some places that I was afraid that I would run out of time! For those interested in giving a humorous speech, I have analyzed my speech in great detail here.
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Crossing no man's land

This motivational speech won second place the Toastmasters European Championship for speeches. Using the story of the Christmas truce during World War I as a metaphor, I talked about how we all need to climb out of the trenches that we have dug for ourselves and take chances in life. By stepping into our own No Man’s Land, that’s where we will experience our biggest personal growth.

Humorous speech

This speech won the Toastmasters European Championship for humorous speeches. In it, I put on my best Arnold Schwarzenegger impersonation as The Terminator. I then overhauled the entire Toastmasters training programme. It was a lot of fun to do and I got great laughs from the audience.
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John delivered a keynote address about the importance of public speaking to 80 senior members of Gore’s Medical Device Europe team at an important sales event. He was informative, engaging and inspirational. Everyone was motivated to improve their public speaking skills. Following his keynote, John has led public speaking workshops for Gore in Barcelona and Munich. He is an outstanding speaker who thinks carefully about the needs of his audience well before he steps on stage.

Karsta Goetze

TA Leader, Gore and Associates

I first got in touch with John while preparing to speak at TED Global about my work on ProtonMail. John helped me to sharpen the presentation and get on point faster, making the talk more focused and impactful. My speech was very well received, has since reached almost 1.8 million people and was successful in explaining a complex subject (email encryption) to a general audience.

Andy Yen

CEO, Proton Technologies

John gave the opening keynote on the second day of our unit’s recent offsite in Geneva, addressing an audience of 100+ attendees with a wealth of tips and techniques to deliver powerful, memorable presentations. I applied some of these techniques the very next week in an internal presentation, and I’ve been asked to give that presentation again to senior management, which has NEVER happened before. John is one of the greatest speakers I know and I can recommend his services without reservation.

David Lindelöf

Senior Data Scientist, Expedia Group

After a morning of team building activities using improvisation as the conduit, John came on stage to close the staff event which was organised in Chamonix, France. His energy and presence were immediately felt by all the members of staff. The work put into the preparation of his speech was evident and by sharing some his own stories, he was able to conduct a closing inspirational speech which was relevant, powerful and impactful for all at IRU. The whole team left feeling engaged and motivated to tackle the 2019 objectives ahead. Thank you, John.

Umberto de Pretto

Secretary General, World Road Transport Organization

I was expecting a few speaking tips and tricks and a few fun exercises, but you went above and beyond – and sideways. You taught me to stand tall. You taught me to anchor myself. You taught me to breathe. You taught me to open up. You taught me to look people in the eye. You taught me to tell the truth. You taught me to walk a mile in someone else’s shoes. I got more than I bargained for in the best possible way.

Thuy Khoc-Bilon

World Cancer Day Campaign Manager, Union for International Cancer Control

John gave a brilliant presentation on public speaking during the UN EMERGE programme in Geneva (a two days workshop on leadership development for a group of female staff members working in the UN organizations in Geneva). His talk was inspirational and practical, thanks to the many techniques and tips he shared with the audience. His teaching can dramatically change our public speaking performance and enable us as presenters to have a real and powerful impact. Thank you, John, for your great contribution!

Sara Canna

HR Specialist, World Health Organization

John is a genuine communication innovator. His seminars on gamification of public speaking learning and his interactive Rhetoric game at our conference set the tone for change and improvement in our organisation. The quality of his input, the impact he made with his audience and his effortlessly engaging style made it easy to get on board with his core messages and won over some delegates who were extremely skeptical as to the efficacy of games for learning. I simply cannot recommend him highly enough.

Thomas Scott

National Education Director, Association of Speakers Clubs UK

John joined our Global Sales Meeting in Segovia, Spain and we all participated in his "Improv(e) your Work!" session. I say “all” because it really was all interactive, participatory, learning and enjoyable. The session surprised everybody and was a fresh-air activity that brought a lot of self-reflection and insights to improve trust and confidence in each other inside our team. It´s all about communication and a good manner of speaking!"

Jon Lopez

General Manager Europe, Hayward Industries

Thank you very much for the excellent presentation skills session. The feedback I received was very positive. Everyone enjoyed the good mix of listening to your speech, co-developing a concrete take-away and the personal learning experience. We all feel more devoted to the task ahead, more able to succeed and an elevated team spirit. Delivering this in a short time, both in session and in preparation, is outstanding!

Henning Dehler

CFO European Dairy Supply Chain & Operations, Danone

Thanks to John’s excellent workshop, I have learned many important tips and techniques to become an effective public speaker. John is a fantastic speaker and teacher, with extensive knowledge of the field. His workshop was a great experience and has proven extremely useful for me in my professional and personal life.

Eric Thuillard

Senior Sales Manager, Sunrise Communications

John’s presentation skills training was a terrific investment of my time. I increased my skills in this important area and feel more comfortable when speaking to an audience. John provided the right mix between theory and practice.

Diego Brait

Director of the Jura Region, BKW Energie AG

Be BOLD. Those two words got stuck in my head and in the heads of all those ADP leaders and associates that had the privilege to see John on stage. He was our keynote speaker at our annual convention in Barcelona, and his message still remains! John puts his heart in every word. Few speakers are so credible, humble and yet super strong with large audiences!

Guadalupe Garcia

Senior Director and Talent Partner, ADP International