An Interview With Fotis Georgiadis
To be an effective public speaker the bar is very high — You don’t just communicate the message — you should be the message. When message = messenger, you have a compelling speaker.
As part of our series about “How to be an effective Public Speaker” I had the pleasure to interview Kevin Kelly.
Kevin Kelly knows the challenges and joys of the selling and influencing more than most having sold across industries and cultures all his life. He packs 25 years plus of energy, enthusiasm and results into his keynotes and consultancy service.
Born into a business family, Kevin began his sales apprenticeship in the family shop in the West of Ireland at the tender age of six. Very soon he became aware of the power of attention — paying attention to what people said…and didn’t say.
Barely able to see over the counter, he entertained customers a multiple of his age that were happy to tell him their life story or at least that’s how it felt. Then there were others who just couldn’t get served quick enough.
On graduating from NUIG with a Marketing degree; Kevin consistently broke sales records in each of companies he worked for culminating in him being continuously head hunted. The strategy was consistent — listen to customers, integrate their thoughts where possible into the product offering, and finally — sell them back their product.
In 1990, Kevin honored his entrepreneurial DNA and set up his own company, Advanced Marketing. The company dedicated itself initially to increasing the sales of small and medium businesses in addition to exhaustively researching the area of personal and business potential.
Over the next few years Kevin deepened his passion and research into human behaviour driven by the desire to find out how people succeeded against the odds.
In 1996, Kevin committed to writing a Best Selling book on motivation, the first of its kind on the Irish market. The fact that he had received a “D” in English consistently at school made the challenge more fascinating.
“How? When You Don’t Know How” became a mega best seller. Kevin learned a very valuable lesson: knowledge may give you enough reasons not to act but Do! it anyway. Since then he has written four more books.
Staying true to his Irish roots, Kevin is a master storyteller who has worked around the world with Fortune 500 companies and prestigious associations like the Million Dollar Round Table.
Kevin’s keynotes consistently deliver an interactive conversation that engages, informs, inspires and empowers attendees with a toolbox of invaluable takeaways. Regardless of whether he is presenting in person or virtual he brings a unique angle and energy to any event.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to get to know you a bit better. Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?
I was brought up in a small village in the West of Ireland. My parents had a service station and a convenience store so I was serving customers at the tender age of six! I noticed very early on that people thrived on positive attention. Indeed on reflection I wondered was I the youngest therapist in the world because even at a young age people told me their life stories! I was barely able to see over the counter.
Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this specific career path?
I guess being brought up in a business environment put you in the spotlight from a young age. I loved interacting with customers. In 1990 I set up my own marketing consultancy firm focused on growing SME’s. More by accident than design I was asked to create a marketing course for SME’s by local enterprise development agencies. I got my first taste of speaking live albeit 20 people and I loved it. I guess I knew intuitively this was the profession for me.
Can you tell us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?
Wow way too many when I reflect on 20 years plus on stage and travelling to 35 plus countries. But a few highlights worth mentioning. Arriving in Buenos Aires to find that a bomb had being planted in the auditorium programmed to explode during the Speakers session that followed me. The speaker was ex President of Colombia Alvaro Uribe. Another that comes to mind was an attendee shouting up from the back of the audience before I started “ When is this going to be over!!”
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
The funniest mistake I made when starting off was a simple one — a clothing malfunction.. I was addressing my peers in college. I was wearing a crisp white shirt with wait for it — a “Born in the USA” Bruce Springsteen Tee shirt underneath, In fairness I did get the audience’s attention — they all recognised the tee-shirt!
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
I started my marketing consultancy at a very young age in 1990. Two enterprise development officers were more than happy to take a risk and put me into some very established companies to advise on Marketing. One of those subsequently promoted me as a speaker option for a Quality organisation he was also involved in. This culminated in my first big keynote on customer service in front of 160 people. The two men Pat Campbell and Pat Dalton.
You have been blessed with great success in a career path that can be challenging and intimidating. Do you have any words of advice for others who may want to embark on this career path, but seem daunted by the prospect of failure?
Commit — Do it …and you truly want it …. watch your journey become one of magic and adventure…if you so choose!
What drives you to get up every day and give your talks? What is the main empowering message that you aim to share with the world?
Be Open — Connect with Integrity — Communicate with Care — Lead with Curiosity.
You have such impressive work. What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? Where do you see yourself heading from here?
I am currently penning my sixth book “Open — Connect with Integrity…Communicate with Care…Lead with Curiosity.” This process is now almost in its second year. I am excited about its potential. Leadership worldwide I contend is in the Intensive Care Unit and its needs to evolve to flourish in these changing times.
Can you please give us your favourite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
The only failure in life is the failure to learn from failure. The speaking profession is a tough world — in the last two years, for most speakers very little or anything happened. You need to be really passionate about your occupation to persist. I used this time to learn…learn …learn and create a new book with new IP and keynotes. The turnover wasn’t great, but the joy was still there. To survive you must inhabit this space.
Ok, thank you for all that. Here is the main question of our interview. What are your “5 Things You Need to Be A Highly Effective Public Speaker?” Please share a story or example for each.
- To be an effective public speaker the bar is very high — You don’t just communicate the message — you should be the message. When message = messenger, you have a compelling speaker.
A few years back I was keynoting in Saudi Arabia. I am the proud owner of three damaged discs in my back so from time to time they come out to play! That day, I was in excruciating pain so much so that I had to lay on the floor for an hour before my contribution to see if I could get some relief. The organiser looked down on me and with concern suggested I don’t continue with the keynote.
Looking up; I reassured him that all would be well when I started speaking.
One hour later I sat on a seat in a very specific way and spoke for three hours with a break. In that time, I didn’t feel any pain. I was in flow. For readers who love what you do, speaking is the profession for you because you experience flow. Flow transcends all and ensures that the message is the messenger!
2. From a tactical perspective, we are living in an attention deficit world, so your keynote must be INTERACTIVE otherwise expect them to be sleeping in the aisles!
If you are conducting a 30/45 min keynote include at least 2/3 “” Breaks” where the audience can discuss the topic at hand with the person beside them — where they can do a written exercise — even as simple as getting them to stand up — stretch and sit down this helps to increase the energy in the room.
What you don’t do is to talk non- stop for 45 minutes on any topic — don’t be surprised if someone snoring drowns the atmosphere.
3. Use Humour……..if you are funny.
People love to laugh — it releases endorphins the pleasure chemical into their system. Without doubt a funny speaker with a well-crafted contribution will have huge impact. However, the question is — are you funny?!! If you aren’t you will be a big TURNOFF with the audience!
4. Tell stories — stories synch the minds of the teller and the receiver according to Princeton University and are 22 times more likely to be remembered than dry facts according to Jerome Bruner of Harvard. If you have three key points to illustrate, choose three suitable stories to make the message stick.
As you know, many people are terrified of speaking in public. Can you give some of your advice about how to overcome this fear?
Know your content
Be the message
Reflect afterwards — what worked, what didn’t. Run with what worked the next times around.
You are a person of huge influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?
Choose integrity even when no one is looking.
Is there a person in the world whom you would love to have lunch with, and why? Maybe we can tag them and see what happens!
Jurgen Klopp Liverpool FC Manager — lucky to have met him before for a picture opportunity when I was speaking in California.
Are you on social media? How can our readers follow you online?
This was so informative, thank you so much! We wish you continued success!
Kevin Kelly: How to Be An Effective Public Speaker was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.