S07 E02 Tom Siebeneicher on Our Journey in Public Speaking

In this conversation, Sander and Tom discuss their journey in public speaking and share their experiences and insights. They talk about how they started doing public speaking, the challenges they faced, and the lessons they learned along the way. They emphasize the importance of having a supportive network, being open to feedback, and continuously improving their presentations. They also discuss the cultural differences they encountered at different conferences and the impact of their talks on the audience. They conclude by sharing their plans for the future, including exploring speaking opportunities outside of the agile community.
Keywordspublic speaking, journey, challenges, lessons, feedback, cultural differences, networking, improvement, future plans


  • Start doing public speaking by finding a supportive network and being open to feedback.
  • Continuously improve your presentations based on feedback and lessons learned.
  • Be aware of cultural differences at different conferences and adapt your approach accordingly.
  • Engage with the audience and create a dialogue during your talk.
  • Explore speaking opportunities outside of your comfort zone to gain new perspectives and experiences.

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  • Navigating Cultural Differences at Conferences
  • Engaging with the Audience and Creating Dialogue

Sound Bites

  • “Talking about agility, talking about topics we both really like and found important.”
  • “I sometimes need the final push. And you just say, okay, let’s do it.”
  • “It’s a stressful situation. It’s a compact event, but you learn so much in such a short amount of time.”


00:00Introduction and Background
01:00Starting in Public Speaking
10:30Supportive Network and Structure
13:20Lessons Learned and Continuous Improvement
21:30Choosing Conferences and Networking
25:40Feedback and Integration
31:00Future Plans and Topics

Sander Dur (00:02.029)
Tom, how are you doing, buddy? Good. I’m always happy when I see you. That’s the only acceptable answer. Good to see you too, dude. Today we’re talking about our journey in public speaking. We’ve been doing this for quite a while now that we’ve got a ton of new conferences coming up more and more stacking. But we get quite some questions on how to approach it. Where did you start? How do you do it? And so on.

And you specifically wanted to talk about this subject. So I’m curious, why did you start doing public speaking? Because you made me do it. I think that that’s the easiest answer. No, to be a bit more precise. I think for me, it was always interested to be on stage, talk to people, but I never get the chance of doing it. And I think talking about agility, talking about topics we both really like and found important. Like…

burnouts or how people deal with the day to day. I think that that really gave me a push to go for it. And then you said, I want to be on stage and I said, well, let’s do it together. And I think that’s how we somehow slide it into the whole situation. Yeah. Was it easy for you? Cause I know I can be, I have way too many of these shower thoughts, right? These stupid ideas that I’m not saying I’m pushing you, but I can definitely challenge you. If you say no, then why not just for my feedback as well.

And with you, luckily I had a sucker who said yes to it, but like, what is it that really pushes, pushed you to go for it and to join me in these challenges of doing public speaking? Cause I know for me, I started doing it because it scared the living shit out of me and it still does at times, but what is it that for you, what brings it to you? I think for me, it was especially this, let’s say brain fart you have all the time to say, we could do this, we could do this, we could do this. And.

rather than thinking it through and checking every guideline or doing whatever to actually do it, I sometimes need the final push. And you just say, okay, let’s do it. Let’s go to this conference. I talked to that person. I talked to that person. And I think that really got the whole thing in motion. With this set, I think also giving your drive of ideas a certain structure helped at the beginning. I think that was also quite nice.

Sander Dur (02:24.526)
you had the idea, you also know how to approach things and you also then made the room for it. For example, let’s think about the first big conference we applied and the Agile Leadership Day in Zurich. I mean, it looks simple, right? They have call for papers, you click on the button and then the fun starts because instead of just saying, by the way, I want to talk about burnouts. They want to know, okay, what’s the abstract? What’s the description? What is the target audience and so forth. And all these things are coming up. And I think if we honestly reflect on it, we also…

directly pick the conference with the most cumbersome process to actually get on stage. Yes, but that cumbersome process was not clear at the beginning when we submitted. Yeah. That cumbersome process became cumbersome over time. When we submitted the process itself as listed was fairly clear and straightforward was do this apply here, receive feedback, adapt wherever needed, then you’re in or not. And then all the other stuff started to appear. But

Another thing that stood out to me while doing this with you is you are fairly susceptible to these stupid ideas. Talk to us about how you came to do a marathon. Yeah. Yeah. I think that that it’s another stupid idea. A friend of mine had, that’s a fair point. Um, and I think regarding that situation, I mean, it’s a good similarity. A friend called me and said, I want to run a marathon. And I said, well, probably the one in Amsterdam is quite nice. I saw an advertisement or whatever triggered my thinking about it.

Two hours later, I got an email, you signed up for the marathon. And I said, wait a minute. I thought you were running one. Why are we running one together? But I think these moments actually also changed my behavior a little bit, especially at TABIA over time, to just not always welcome it with open arms. I wouldn’t go that far. So some of your brain farts, I sometimes say send us seriously. But the majority of it is just – Which ones? Well, the list is long. It would explode the whole podcast itself.

But giving it a try quite often helps a lot. And I agree with the conference in Zurich that we didn’t knew how cumbersome the process will be when we started. But I think retrospectively, I really like the fact that it was like that. Because a lot of things we didn’t have in place, the process peeled out. So for example, what’s your presentation? I thought we do the presentation a week before. Can you do a pitch video? Why do we need a pitch video?

Sander Dur (04:49.262)
And all these stuff came up. And I think that really helped us to at least, really at least, that’s the right wording here, shape it to a level where we both feel comfortable to be on stage and doing it. And I mean, when we then went the first time to a conference outside of the Netherlands, and you’re right, we had one smaller one before, let’s talk about that in a minute. We had the opportunity to be on stage, experience the whole thing. And I think we had a bunch of learnings from it. And this is something I…

I really admire because it’s a stressful situation. It’s a compact event, but you learn so much in such a short amount of time. What’s your biggest learning? What has been throughout? Again, we’ve been doing this for quite a while now for a couple of years. What has been your biggest learning over time? You always get new feedback. So I think at a certain point in time, um, we also decided we don’t want to do certain talks anymore because we think, yeah, we talked about it now five times it’s done, but even.

The last time, for example, the most recent conference when we went to Canada, we still got valid feedback and we still got questions which were completely new, a different angle to the topic, which I think is valuable all the time because at least for me and sometimes seeing your facial impression during the talk also, you haven’t thought about it. It’s okay. That’s actually a valid thought. How do we answer? We always have an answer. And I think that that makes it nice.

But how is it for you? Because I mean, you’re tagging along now for a couple of years. How is it for you then? Well, I think that’s one of the main reasons why I chose you to at least why I asked you. One is my accountability buddy. Cause if I would do this on my own, it’s really easy to let go of this stuff. But you compliment me in the way that you provide more structure to me. And there’s a big stigma obviously about German efficiency. You would be the embodiment of German efficiency. Like all the shit that I lack.

in my structure, in my routine, in my way that I approach things, I can be one of those unguided missiles that goes wherever. And you just help me stay on track. And I think that has been my biggest takeaway and how to structure these kinds of things. When we went to Helsinki last year, I think it was Helsinki or there are the, the, the examples are a plethora, right? When we went to Helsinki, my wife asked me before I went.

Sander Dur (07:11.086)
What time is your flight? I don’t know. Where’s your hotel? I don’t know. How the hell are you going to get there? Well, Tom’s there, so I’ll just tag along and I’m, I’m, I will be fine. You know, it is that kind of stuff that really helped me get into the place where I am now. I mean, Vienna, agile tour of Vienna again, was one of those conferences where we did together. And it was the first conference where we didn’t travel together. And on the plane, I was thinking, where’s my ticket? I don’t even know where I need to be. How do I get there?

I’m lost without Tom. So those are main takeaways for me and how to develop and well, the upcoming Scan Agile conference in Finland is going to be my first solo conference and all these lessons I immediately implement, right? So those would be my main ones. Yeah, I see that. And I think also it’s interesting how much at least I and I think for you it’s the same.

we still grow conference by conference because I mean, yes, we already have a bunch of conferences in the books and we also have more conferences this year to come up, but we also have always the situation, what can we do better? How can we tweak it? And also this contact with the other speakers, Tom, Atua, Fred, and so forth. It’s always a great experience to have a different perspective, get feedback here, get feedback there, and get challenged in the things we are talking about. And I think also if we now, for example, take our burnout,

talk. It’s also so nice to see and get the feedback that creating awareness for topics like this is really appreciated. And then also here, the people feel the same way or people have sometimes also experience they want to share. It’s really nice to include this. And I think what I wouldn’t do is I wouldn’t go haywire that we need to do a conference every week or stuff like that. But having these moments is also something I’m looking forward to. With this said, let’s take today’s example.

It also, and I think this is what I underestimated at the beginning, it’s a bunch of effort to keep track and also see, okay, which conference is up for paper? Does the conference make sense? Is it something where our topic actually fits? How do we get there? Can we make something for our presentation? I think it always looks so nice and shiny on LinkedIn because, oh, another conference, they went to Montreal. Yeah, great, we went to Montreal, but there was a shitload of work to prepare the conference and really ensure that we have a high quality talk at that conference.

Sander Dur (09:36.718)
Yeah. And I think that’s one of the parts that we’ve been talking about this. Jim and I have been talking about this in the podcast before is the part that people never see is the shit that’s not being displayed on LinkedIn. But we do like to talk about that is the preparation it takes and the effort and the mental load. Burnout is one of those topics that really resonates with a lot of people. Yet there still seems to be one of those stigmas on it that either you cannot talk about a burnout or it’s just a taboo. And I think that is

to me is what I would, what I really like about these conferences that we talk about topics that are close to our hearts, that are pragmatic and we don’t do them just for the hell of exposure or to seem like one of those Instagram influencers. Unluckily with the agile field, it’s not that bad on Instagram, but still there are way too many posers and we just do stuff that we like to do and enjoy doing. And, uh,

We kill the stuff that we don’t like to do anymore because we have done it over and over. We don’t want to be one of those one trick ponies. And I think that’s, that’s a good incremental learning throughout the development of, for instance, our talk, Tans, curing Tans. There’s always a next sprint where we started in Vienna. And I’ll let you talk about that in a second, but over the, let’s say six, seven conferences after that, we continuously incrementally improved it. So.

I think that’s one of the main coming back to the takeaways that I’ve had is how to improve the conference. The submissions that you pose is learn from the organization behind the conference. Why did they accept your talk? If they did, like what is it that made it stand out or the other way around as well? If they declined it, why and how can you apply those lessons or the feedback that you get during conference? Listen to that stuff.

And I think we’re in a very lucky position where we met up with Chris Stone and Arthur and Margo Nari and all these guys that are seasoned speakers that know exactly how to build proper proposals that we can learn a ton from and then use that to improve our own version as well. So if there’s anyone listening to this podcast and thinks, well, I want to start with doing conferences and public speaking as well.

Sander Dur (11:53.134)
Surround yourself with people that know their skills that know their stuff and how to do this have done that before because if you have to reinvent the wheel yourself is going to be really challenging and difficult I’m not saying it’s impossible not by no means but it does help to build your network and just Reach out to people even if it’s to me or Tom, but by no means are we veteran speakers? But something I’ve learned is that people are always open to have a chat or to give you feedback on the proposal that you that you bring or

it’s always helpful to get some feedback and incrementally develop. But talk to us about Dream22. Yeah, well, I think that was the first conference we did together here in the Netherlands and also a really fun experience because when we got accepted because it was via your network, it was the first, let’s say, test balloon we had here in the Netherlands. I think that’s fair to say. We started on the presentation. I think we had a fairly decent presentation and we also did a good preparation, so I felt comfortable.

But then I think the keynote speaker got delayed and we got asked to open the conference. And I nearly shit my pants because I knew, okay, we need to go upstage. We have people in front of us. We will do this talk the first time. Do we really find our rhythm as speakers because we have the situation which is not common that we do it together. So we always also need to have a good, let’s say mix what we are talking about. But I think we managed to talk about an hour about there’s always the next sprint. And…

What I learned during that time was also how do you connect with your audience? I mean, it was a conference which was primarily focused on business analysts, so not 100 % linked to agility per se, but it was nice to see how they connected to the topics we had. And then also signing or nodding that, yes, that’s a good point. I have seen that. Oh, yes, I felt that. And then getting the questions to dwell into that, that was a really nice experience. I think the moment we finished,

I also started in my head, okay, we need to change this slide, we need to do this bullet, so the German efficiency kicked in to say, okay, what can we do differently? But I think it also showed me that this is something I like to do, not the presentation of talk itself, but this Q &A afterwards, because it gave me so much energy to have a discussion and to talk with people about the topic I like to talk about that I thought I want to do that again. How was it for you?

Sander Dur (14:16.334)
The same, what helped me is that my friends in my network asked me to be a part of that because they were organizing it. It was for Atos, indeed the Dream Conference, fairly close to my home. So that helped. A little bit of added anxiety was that immediately after the talk, our originally planned slot, we would have to leave to go to Schiphol and fly to your client. So there was some more anxiety, but indeed opening or being asked to…

Hey, we planned you for the afternoon, but do you want to be like the second speaker? All right. Okay. Sure. We’ve got half an hour plan. And then to be asked, well, our keynote speakers stuck in traffic. Do you want to open for an hour? And then impromptu having to do everything just on the spot, improvise everything, add some more questions and make it more interactive and engaging with the audience. That was, it was tricky, but I think it helped me calm the anxiety down because it’s not just sending the information is creating more rapport with the people looking at you.

And I’m curious how you did that or what if you can remember what you did, but you know, this this advice is just picture people naked or look just slightly above their head. But that to me, that took away the opportunity to look at their facial expressions or their body language. So I definitely look people in the eye just to make sure that I think I understand what they feel, whether I’m on the right track. Do you remember how that was for you?

Yeah. Um, yes, definitely. I remember that. Um, I always look for a supporter, support in a way that I find hopefully someone in the audience who is nodding, who is confirming what we are saying. So I think I, I was, or I am in the lucky situation that I always found a person during every conference who was sort of nodding and agreeing what we are saying. So I think I never had a situation that no one was confirming what we are saying via facial impression.

I think that’s also why I normally don’t like online conferences because you can’t see your audience. You don’t see if it resonates. You don’t connect with the group itself. So it’s really just speaking to a camera. It’s the same with why I like joining podcasts or being a podcast guest, not a host, too much effort, but like to be a guest because you can see each other in the eye. We can talk, we can connect about it, which makes it way more interesting to me because I get more out of it and it calms me down.

Sander Dur (16:40.174)
I think that really calms me down. And then the next moment I was… If the people are re -insuring that you’re saying things, they also see it in that way. And also then at the Atos conference, especially the moment, okay, now we have a Q &A. Now someone asks a question. What do you do if you cannot answer the question? But I think, and I don’t know if it applies for you as well, we are so long in the coaching business as well, and so much used to get questions by our clients that this…

The moment the first question was articulated, I knew, ah, okay, let’s pivot back to, let’s say, the day -to -day business of being a consultant and answering these questions. What I think got better or we really improved over time was making a dialogue out of it. At the beginning, it was more question, answer, and please don’t ask the follow -up questions, leave us alone. Let’s have the next person answering. Nowadays, we really ingrain it into a dialogue with the audience. Yeah, because I think there are a few things more boring than…

Sitting through a talk for at least an hour over and over and over again. I mean, I’m not saying that talking for an hour is wrong, not by any means, but if you just had a keynote speaker and then another session listening and then having to sit in another session, for instance, just prior to lunch, where people are looking at their Clark’s already like, when can we finally go for lunch? You’re going to bore people out. So I like having that dynamic and the, and, um, being able to engage with people in the audience. Also.

because it creates more of a relationship and it makes it a little bit more tangible for people to home in on. Yeah, I agree. And I think the next thing which I experienced after the DREAM conference at Arthos when we were going to the At the DREAM Day in Zurich was the cultural difference as well, because we jumped from, let’s say, one cultural region into another cultural region. So the questions we got about our talk…

were slightly different. Also the audience was slightly different because it was a leadership conference. We could now argue the case of who’s a leader and who’s not a leader, but there was a lot of difference in the questions we got. And that was interesting to see because this was something I could directly take with me also into day -to -day business as a consultant. I think it was a really nice jump as well going from a smaller conference, well organized by the way, the Dream Conference by Atos. I can definitely recommend it. If you’re a business analyst,

Sander Dur (19:04.622)
Or in that realm, I can highly recommend going there because it’s well organized. They have good topics. They have good speakers. And you’ll definitely get a load of information and takeaways. But going from there, I think the audience was 300 people by heart, something like that. And then we went to Switzerland, to Zurich for an audience of 1 ,200 people as our second conference ever. That’s a really large step. And.

knowing that’s the agile leadership day where the vast majority of the audience is in C level positions, at least middle management and up. And then you’re there as a complete newbie of a speaker. To me, that was a fairly daunting experience. Something I did learn there is that I find it a million times more scary to talk to a smaller audience that really knows their shit. Yeah. Like when I was in the scrum .org face to face.

in Boston at the Scrum Noorg office themselves. I think there were 30, 40 people present. And I think it’s to me, it’s a lot more scary to talk that to such a size of an audience that to 1200 people that may not necessarily be fully engaged with what Angel is and what Scrum is and maybe on a different level, but people are really seasoned veterans. I think there’s a lot more scary to talk to an audience of that size because I feel I can get lost in the anonymity of looking into the faces and it’s more of a.

Not necessarily a cloud, but more of a sea of people. And with a smaller audience, you can either see people’s facial expressions constantly change to the same people. So if I would lock on to you and I would look away and then over time, when I keep looking back at you or someone else and I see their facial expression and their body language change, or they start looking at their phone a bit more, then I know maybe I’m not doing the right thing. Yeah.

And that’s different if you have a crowd of 1200 people, you’re the only thing that you see is just a massive wave of people. Yeah. But you don’t see how they feel or, you know, you don’t necessarily feel, you cannot really get in touch with the body language of those people. Cause maybe just the front row or the row after. Yeah. Yeah, I agree. And I think that’s something we’re just, it’s, yeah, how to say that it’s something we can take into account. So for example, if you have someone who’s listening,

Sander Dur (21:30.19)
plans to be at conferences. I would totally agree the bigger the conference get, the easier it gets to get in front of the people because you have this ocean, there’s this blurry, rather anonymous group of people who is looking at you. And still they came to your talk based on the description or the abstract you provided. So they are interested in the topic. This is also something I really learned over time. The people which are sitting in front of you, they don’t sit there because they have to.

It’s not like being in school. Someone puts you in German lessons and you need to listen. That’s not longer the case. They come to your talk because they read your abstract. They found it intriguing. And now they want to listen to it. So everyone who is in that room is willingly in that room. And that’s also something which really calmed me down over time to know they’re not here because someone is forcing them to. Mostly, hopefully. But they are there because they want to listen to it. And that also made it a…

more comfortable experience for me. But it also showed me that if you would start again applying for conferences, I think I personally was too careful selecting conferences at the beginning. I think it’s always worthwhile just pitching papers to every conference you found interesting yourself because the conference board is always different. Sometimes they’re looking for new talks, sometimes they look for more seasoned speakers. So I would also say it’s not getting easier for us now.

landing at conferences. For sure, if you already went to a conference, we might get asked again if it was a good talk. Nevertheless, we as the same as everyone pitch the paper, get feedback and iterate. Yeah, and I think that’s a very tricky thing these days, especially post COVID. So many conferences get over 400 submissions or call for or how do you call that? Yeah.

the papers that have been submitted. And it’s really hard for organizations as well to then distill like who’s who can be in there, what’s interesting, what is not. Do we have any proof that this person is a seasoned speaker or that would actually add any value to our conference, especially the more high level conferences that tend to draw a lot of audience either have a track specifically designed for new talent or they look at people that have already.

Sander Dur (23:50.862)
done a list of talks, so they have proved that this is a good speaker and they can go to the other organizations as well, ask for feedback. And I think for people who are just starting, one of my other piece of advice would be just submit to a whole list, because the probability that you’re going to be declined, especially as a newbie, is pretty high. I mean, the amount of declines that we had the first year that we did it, they were numerous. Yes.

And it’s a challenge in and by itself to not get put down or let down by that and think about why I thought it was so good. Yeah, I agree. And I think still with every time we got declined, quite often we got feedback. So with every every attempt, try fast, fail fast, we got better because we got more and more feedback. So for example, if we nowadays like Dave, think about the new conference topic and you talk.

which makes us both take, we think we can share information about with experience with, we already approached the whole, how to design it, how to structure it, what are the concrete outcomes? At least for me, it’s way easier than before. I think we can invest less time in it and still then we get feedback and need to fine tune it. Just we did right now for the agile 2024. I mean, great conference, huge conference. I think we can also see so many other inspiring talks, but.

Still, we get a lot of feedback and now we need to integrate it. Those lessons and the piece of feedback that you’ve gotten over the years, have you integrated that in your consultancy gigs as well, in your trainings, your daily life? What do you do with it? Yeah, definitely. So I think if we now, for example, go back to the burnout talk, or maybe not the burnout talk, there’s always the next sprint talk. I think so often we also got ideas from the audience, how they approached it, what…

things they have done to get rid of this disease in the organization. I can do it in my day -to -day consultancy life and say, okay, I heard about this approach, let’s give it a try. Or I talked about something with another person at a conference, let’s give it a try. And I think the funny thing is, and here a big kudos to Fred, the first talk I heard from Fred in Helsinki. Fred Dyckler, shout out to you. Yes. Miss you, buddy. He talked about Jira automations and Slack automations.

Sander Dur (26:07.63)
And this stuck in my head. I still try to ingrain all these ideas of automation and making the life easier for people nowadays into my day to day. I would not say I implement everything he shared, but the core idea I take, take with me. I like that. And I think that’s, that’s something that’s been overlooked as well, or, um, speakers tend to undervalue or overlook.

the impact that they can have on other people’s lives. And occasionally they’re someone who’s very, very in tune with the impact that he or she has. But I think speakers have more impact than they actually think they have. Yeah.

Any other stuff that, for instance, in your training, for instance, for myself, and I don’t want to talk about myself too much, obviously, but it makes me more comfortable standing in front of a group, whether that’s in front of 10 people, in front of six people or 500. But it definitely, to me, it made me more comfortable speaking in front of a lot of people. Yeah, same for me. I think I got way, I am way calmer than I was.

before we started the whole journey. I think that helps a lot. I’m also way more convinced that everyone has something important to share, me included. So if I talk about things and I strongly believe that this is a good way of approaching it, I stand in for it, which is a week assured by the whole feedback we got, all the talks we had, because I think what is part of a conference? Yes, it’s our talk. We are there to provide our talk. So we need to prepare our talk. We follow up on our talk.

but we always get the opportunity to talk to other speakers, other participants during the day, join other talks. I think that the whole endeavor is also like a pressure cook learning experience for the both of us because I mean, normally within two days we have six or seven talks we are listening to, which is always like a training itself. Then we have a discussion afterwards. Then we might have a beer or two in the evening with other speakers or conference members.

Sander Dur (28:13.07)
which is also again talking about the topic, more or less. And I think this really drives me and drives me forward. I think what I also would share as an advice of people thinking about, for example, to which conference should I go? Because if you don’t go as a speaker, you have to pay for it normally. I think I would also connect it quite often to the characters you have at that conference. So for example, is it…

this podcast must something that what makes them tick. Well, it’s worthwhile going to conference if you are around to just get in touch and have a chat and this kind of stuff. I think this is a combination I also learned. So whenever I take a look at the conference where we might not speak, but I still found it interesting to go. I also see who else is around and what are the key topics they want to address because this is also something which always changes slightly. And what sounds.

Well, if you take Scan Agile, for example, they had a different focus last year than they have this year. Yeah. Which is something great to see because it doesn’t mean that when you went once to Scan Agile, it doesn’t make sense to go again because coolest to that conference and all the other conferences, they also want to engage with the newest topic or with a different focus every year. So they also reinvent themselves with live podcasting or with workshops or with lightning talks and all these kinds of stuff. And it’s great to see that they…

always take this into account. And I think that’s also something I learned over time. I always expected every conference is sort of the same. It’s a program, a set of things people talk about. That’s it. But if you think about it, you have sometimes a speaker dinner, or you have these lightning talks, or you have other events they are doing. So that’s something also really makes me take. Yeah, I think that’s to me as a speaker, that’s one of the main reasons why I would go to a conference. I like I really get a

thrill out of being on stage, but it’s the thing around it, like networking with people or just talking and getting feedback from people in the audience or answering their questions, looking at other speakers and what we can learn from that or even if it’s the topic or the way that they walk, even walk around the stage. In the beginning, I tended to be way too fixed in my position and not really walk around because I was way too much focused on delivering the message. Think about

Sander Dur (30:33.454)
All right. What is this like coming up ahead? What do I need to say? What kind of pictures do we have there? What kind of stupid jokes can I put in there? And the more that you progress, the more that you experience, the more comfortable that you get. So I try to look at other speakers as well. How do you do it? Yeah. And see what I can learn from that. I’m not saying that I’m just copy pasting whatever they are doing, but I can definitely look at these kind of little patterns that they do or the way that they use the stage.

I’m not going to be there flopping my hands around very wildly because that’s just going to lead away. But I am not, I’m no longer fixing my position. I walk around, I try to be a little bit subtle in my movement, but I’m definitely not putting my hands in my pocket to speak. And in the beginning I did that a lot more than I do now. Yeah. Yeah. And I think what I also see is that…

Whenever we think about the talk or whatever we design, whatever we draft, if I cannot really put my heart in it, it’s not worthwhile sending it. So for example, you have so many brain thoughts, which are all great, but quite often we also reach a point where we say, it is actually a good idea and we probably could talk about it, but is it something we really want to stand for? So is it something we really think we should push forward? So even if it’s interesting, maybe for some people, I wouldn’t feel comfortable.

pushing something or handing in something where we say, yeah, it’s a marketing trick. Let’s use it to land at that conference. I don’t like that. I’d rather have a talk where he said, okay, this is really something we think we should talk about and then hand it in. Yeah. I think that’s something that listeners who want to speak more, do more public speaking,

could learn from, or what I would tell my younger self in that sense, maybe three years ago, is what we do now is we have a list of topics that we want to talk about and we make a click -baity title just to draw people in, because you got to find some attention, not misleading, but it does become a click -baity thing. We have an abstract, we’ve filled out a couple of areas, like what are the learning outcomes? What is it about? A little summary, some speaker information, condense that.

Sander Dur (32:44.014)
And then send that out. We never build the entire presentation upfront because that’s going to cost you so much time. Just if you’re listening to this or my advice to my younger self, make a list of topics that you want to talk about, submit those and the ones that get selected, then you can start building those. But else you’ll be spending so much time building or creating a presentation that may not get picked. So you’re investing a lot of time and stuff that you may not even need to do. Exactly. And I think.

What I also see when we now nowadays get feedback for a conference is they try to help. They try to make it more interesting to the audience or they try to bubble up what is really the thing we want to talk about and embracing that feedback and taking it into account. Because I was scared at the beginning that we might get feedback that someone wants to twist our talk around completely, but that never happens. Because as soon as you have an idea, a story you want to tell, they don’t change your story. They just ensure that…

Your story contains the right elements to really bring also the audience forward. And that’s what I really appreciate. At the beginning I was, oh, okay, hopefully we never get the feedback. Yeah, please talk about burnout, but say burnout is not a bad thing or stuff like that. Right. So it’s always supporting, not flipping it. What would you say to your younger self about people providing you feedback that may be harsh or you didn’t expect or some of those negative comments, like how to deal with that? Yeah.

Um, let’s, let’s, what I normally try to do when, when we get a rather harsh feedback at a conference and these things happened, um, I try to park it for a moment. I think in the first one or two situations, I directly took it in and try to answer, shoot, even sometimes try to work against it rather than, okay, yeah, that’s the feedback. Um, from my perspective, I can agree. I cannot agree. I see it slightly different and.

Park the rest and then maybe a day or two later, think about it again. What does the person meant? Because sometimes, I mean, it’s fair to say we have sometimes 200, 300, 400 people in front of us. Not everyone can agree with our stupid ideas. So it can be worthwhile if they are saying, yeah, I don’t see it that way. Or this doesn’t work. And I think once or twice, even in Montreal, we had the case that some guy, he was really persistent, came afterwards during the after conference.

Sander Dur (35:09.934)
drinks to me and said, by the way, this is what I meant. And then we, we peeled the situation like an onion and he was right. He had a really fair point that regarding uh, something uh, TANS is just a pattern which will always come back, which was a fair point. And the answer we provided, I think it was, I provided even was not 100 % precise enough. And he was a rather precise guy. So fair point. He didn’t agree to it, but we took the time thinking about it and then was.

actually really helpful feedback. I think he didn’t agree with that. I think that was a good tangent. Because I’m not there to convince people, right? I’m there to share my observations, share my opinions and share my experience. I am not there to convey a whole new theory, mostly. Yeah. Right. So you can disagree. That’s completely fine. I’m not I didn’t come here to do a sales pitch. Yeah, you can disagree. You can do whatever with.

with my words, whatever you want. I’m completely fine with that. Do it. Please disagree. I would love to be proven wrong, but do it substantiated. And if it’s one of those unfounded comments that just says, I think you’re talk of shit, just saying something like, all right, you can think of shit. Fine. Then go to another speaker that you feel is more valuable. But if you have feedback that would be valuable to me so I can improve, I would…

wholeheartedly accept that and use that to as well as I can. Yeah, I agree. And I think it would also be quite impressive. Let’s say it like this. If everyone we ever talked to at a conference or we presented our talks, 100 % agree to what we say. I mean, think about it. We had so many conferences, that’s hundreds of people, even thousands of people maybe. If each and everyone would really agree to every thing we would say,

Would be impressive. You and I already don’t agree always. That’s true. But that’s a more you problem, a less of me problem. I disagree. That’s true. But I think the whole experience of being a speaker, becoming a speaker, I can highly recommend it to everyone who feels the need. He wants to learn a lot of things fast, because the whole experience, the whole journey from pitching a paper, getting feedback about the paper, thinking about the proposal elements you need, key.

Sander Dur (37:31.918)
key outcomes, learning, structure, outline, whatever it is, really makes you think and challenges you in a totally different way. Especially, I was not used to this way. And then being at the conferences before and after also triggers so many wonderful moments. I think we met so many people. I now have a WhatsApp group with Fred, Chris, and so forth. And with so many other people, I’m in good contract and engage more with the community. I don’t want to miss that.

I didn’t expect that when we started. I think my expectation was, yeah, let’s go to conference, let’s have a talk, let’s say hello to people, and then we leave again. But the package around it got so much bigger. That is what I really appreciate.

that indeed, plus all the other opportunities to build your network, to hone your skill. And something that I overlooked or never thought about in the beginning when we started talking is to have a look at what kind of audience that you get, not necessarily in the type of people that will be there, maybe to certain degree. But if I would look at the audience that we had in the Netherlands, we are known to be blunt and direct, which is true.

Sander Dur (38:45.966)
But then, because obviously I live here, I know that upfront, how people will respond and I can deal with that. That’s fine. But for instance, the conference that we had in Switzerland, where people lean back a lot more and they, they didn’t have a lot of facial expressions, but apparently that’s fairly normal. In conference over there where people just soak it up, then think about it. And then later they started approaching us and said,

I thought about this and this is what I think. How do you feel about that? Or I like this because it makes me think about my own situation. But that was something that blew me away initially. What’s going on? I’m lost. I don’t see any changes in anyone’s facial expressions, body language, temperature of the room. I don’t know what’s going on here. I didn’t prepare for that. And in the US, it’s a complete opposite where we did pizza, gelati in Atlanta, for instance, and in Boston, and I don’t know where I ever.

People are, there are a lot more curious and they’re trying, especially the, the, the agile practitioners are trying to challenge the status quo. So they have a million questions and they want to know a lot more, but they, at the same time, they feel almost reluctant to speak up during the talk itself. So they’ll wait for a question, to ask questions until the very end. The, the way of indifference of audience engagement is good to be aware of upfront. Like what is the, the.

cultural way of dealing with speakers, for instance, or how is this normally being dealt with? Because that’s something that really got me off guard. Yeah, I agree. And I think what I would like to do this year, if we now look forward and think about, okay, well, what’s next? What can we do next? I think it would be also interesting to start approaching conferences outside of the agile community. So maybe bringing the topic of burnout of leadership, of the complexity of leadership into

let’s say a pharma conference or a procurement conference or an automotive conference, whatever, because I don’t want to say we are done with agile conferences, but it would be really nice to see in a great experience. What kind of feedback do we get there and where do we land? How is the audience receiving it? Maybe even go to a lawyer conference or whatsoever. It would be fun to see how this will go. Just to put another perspective and another colorful angle to it.

Sander Dur (41:12.045)
That’s an interesting one. Never thought about that. Yeah. Just to submit out of something that’s completely outside of our comfort zone, not necessarily the topic, but the audience that we would get. That’s a good one to do. You want to put down on the to -do list for this year. Oh yeah. We should definitely do that. So Bayer, Pfizer, Moderna, Sonophy, if you’re listening, get us. You know where to find us. And I think that that’s another one, which would be really interesting to see, to go to this.

let’s say town hall events to really be within one company having this moment that we talk about whatever, um, because we have a certain set, maybe something fits for the company to say, this is a town hall. This is a opening talk or whatsoever about leadership, about leadership complexity. And then let’s say receiving feedback from a company culture perspective, because I think certain companies will take this in a different way. Yeah, but that’s a fine line. Then we’re walking between.

teacher, speaker and consultant, right? Yes. So you can combine all of them. If you’re working for a larger consultancy, like luckily we do, it could be helpful to have salesperson or salespeople tagging along because it’s especially from a company perspective, we usually get funded if the conference itself doesn’t help you get there or doesn’t reimburse travel, then having a salesperson around you helps to engage with the audience saying this is what we do. This is what kind of propositions that we have.

So then it becomes a dynamic and we’re not just there for ourselves, but it helps us drive business as well. Speaking of which, and that’s going to be the last topic for today’s episode. What’s for 2024? What are your predictions? What do you want to develop? Yeah, I think we already did that. So I think one of the things I really want to push forward is the whole situation of leading from a sandbox. So leadership within a frame to really say what can the leadership, the modern management, if you will, do?

to encourage the community, the teams, the group, the organization to really flourish and take ownership and responsibilities. I think there are so many easy, or also not so many hard things which are available. If you actually do that, you see so great results. I think that would be something. And what I also would love to see if we fine tune the way we engage at a conference. I think we have a really good rhythm.

Sander Dur (43:36.526)
the two of us now, but we do this for two specific talks by now. And now it’s the next year where we can try it with a different talk, which also applies for different layers of our knowledge. I think the past we stayed on team level and on the, let’s say more emotional level around burnouts. Now we are engaging with leadership. How do we see leadership? How do we engage also with this layer and also engage with each other about this? This would be, I think something which is really interesting to see. And…

The last thing for this year, I think it’s a fairly good question. I think I already covered the things I would really like to do. Maybe let’s add one non -ADJA conference to the plan. I like that. Good stuff. That’s it for today. Let’s go and have a beer, buddy. Yes. Thanks for being here. Thanks.