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Published: June 13th 2014
After the excitement of Malaysia, I briefly stopped in Dubai where I co-hosted a radio show for the first time. The Travel Show
on 103.8 Dubai Eye is a daily programme dedicated to all things travel. Since this maiden co-hosting, I have had nearly two weeks of further appearances. I participated in guest segments for ABC Radio in Australia, but had never co-hosted a show for two hours.
I love the medium of radio – it is personal and one can paint word pictures to the listeners. An added advantage is that I can inspire others about the wonders and joys of travel, and to share my knowledge of different destinations to a wide audience. This has been, and continues to be, an exciting and appreciated experience.
As is usual with my life at present, I do not remain in one place too long, and within a few days was boarding a flight to Europe. The destination was the land of my mother’s birth – Germany – and it has been more than two decades since my previous visit. My reason for being brought to Germany was to deliver a public speaking workshop, and I usually arrive early to rehearse. Though
my presentation was in Leipzig, I decided to base myself in nearby Berlin.
Berlin is one of my favourite cities, and it has changed significantly in two decades. In 1992 (not long after the fall of the Berlin Wall) there were still stark differences between East and West. When metro trains ran between the two sides their lights would always flicker and sometimes the trains would stop. The former communist side still felt as if it was lost in another age – the infrastructure lesser, the streets more drab. Nowadays, you would have difficulty distinguishing between the communist and capitalist sections of the city.
Berlin possesses some incredible sights, such as the Berlin Cathedral and Pergamon Museum, and even a tour of underground bomb shelters from the Second World War. However, I was particularly drawn to the food, especially the bratwurst sold by street vendors – I reckon it is the best street food in all of Europe. The restaurant scene has also dramatically changed in 22 years and it has a far more international flavour.
Whilst in Berlin, it was an honour to meet people I had only known through Twitter. I am one of three
founders of The Road Less Travelled Twitter Chat
also known as #TRLT. Every Tuesday this chat discusses and promotes lesser appreciated travel destinations such as Africa, Middle East, Central Asia and Central America. Coincidentally, three of the regular participants live in Berlin, so it was wonderful to meet similarly minded travellers.
After a week of preparation, sightseeing and socialising, it was time to travel to Leipzig, the pretty host city for The Social Travel Summit
(STS). I would best describe STS as a boutique travel blogging conference. Deliberately kept small in size, it featured many of the biggest and most successful travel bloggers in the world. I am of course, not one of those big nor successful travel bloggers, in fact I was easily the smallest frog in the STS pond.
However, I have a unique skill amongst travel bloggers and it was for this reason I was chosen to speak at Leipzig. To the best of my knowledge, I am the only person who was already an established public speaker before becoming a travel blogger. Though I have been blogging on Travelblog and elsewhere since 2002, my serious public speaking experience extend back to 1990.
The quality of presentations was very high, and the
knowledge level obviously pitched for a learned audience. There were three important lessons I learnt from STS. Firstly, as a career travel blogger, you are running a small business. Thus it means longer hours than a normal job, but none of the bloggers I met (me included) were complaining, for the lifestyle is sensational.
Secondly, when bloggers seek to work with a destination organisation or travel provider one must strive to form an enduring business partnership. It is not about obtaining free or discounted travel, but instead finding a travel brand which genuinely interests the blogger and working together. Thus one can maintain a genuine voice as they are speaking on something they are passionate about.
Finally, there are many different ways to collaborate with destinations organisations and travel providers. These can include producing content (both writing and photography) that never appears on the blogger’s website. I found this idea most interesting and I am already pursuing it with several entities at present.
An outstanding summary of STS is provided by Elena Paschinger
in a series of four excellent posts.
My workshop was prior to lunch on the second day. Entitled [i[“From the Computer to the Stage”it
sought to teach bloggers how to craft a presentation. A nice crowd assembled to hear me share my experiences from more than 1000 presentations of varying lengths. The workshop considered four areas vital in any speech: structure, writing, rehearsal, and delivery.
I illustrated structure by adopting a mantra used by speech writer to four US Presidents, James Humes, namely that a speech is not a blog or article to be read aloud. This was followed by another one of Mr Humes’ astute pieces of advice, that one must write a speech for the ear and not for the eye. Public speaking is easier than many people think – simplicity is the key. Make things complex by packing too much information into a talk is not only more difficult to deliver, but too much content reduces the amount of information the audience retains.
I then turned to the importance of rehearsal – practicing your presentation helps reduce your nerves and ensures that you keep to the allocated time. Finally there was delivery, which is achieved through a variation of pitch, pace, pause and power. A monotonous delivery, regardless of the quality or strength of your voice, will soon tire
A #TRLT Tweet Meet in Berlin - Germany
From left: Jens (with a fetching hat), Ilana, Dorothée, The Travel Camel
I also provided more advanced techniques for each of the four areas – namely the all important psychology of public speaking (structure), using poetic techniques (writing), memorising a speech (rehearsal) and giving a performance (delivery). It is relatively easy to become a competent public speaker, but more difficult to incorporate these advance techniques.
The presentation was well received and as a result, I was offered additional speaking engagements. Further, I met a number of famed travel bloggers, and the intimate feel of STS allowed for plenty of opportunities to converse with these impressive individuals.
As evening approached we strolled around Leipzig for a glimpse of what this charming city with its grand, ornate buildings had to offer. Leipzig has a strong cultural history, especially since Johann Sebastian Bach spent nearly the last 30 years of his life living here. Given more time I would have explored more of the cultural options. I was escorted on an Eat the World culinary tour that showed some of the city’s plentiful dining options – including devouring a bratwurst from yet another street seller.
I dearly wanted to remain in Germany for longer, and whilst other STS attendees
spread across the country to partake in different blogger trips, I headed to Frankfurt to board a US bound plane that would take me to another speaking engagement just three days later. STS was the second event this year (the first my Malaysia Social Media Week presentation) that saw my career shift increasingly closer to a full time travel blogger due to my public speaking skills. The third involved a two week Transatlantic cruise where I would deliver a series of presentations about my adventures on the road less travelled...
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