My Unforgettable Experience Keynoting The Global Leadership Summit

Jason Dorsey at GLS

The top three things I learned speaking to 400,000 leaders at one event!  

I just keynoted one of the most unforgettable and inspiring events in my career. It was so personally meaningful that I wanted to share the behind-the-scenes experience and learning with you!

In the speaking world, we refer to The Global Leadership Summit (GLS) as “The Super Bowl of Speaking.” It sure felt that way when I arrived at the venue. The huge auditorium was three levels high, packed with leaders from around the world, TV cameras, a wall of massive screens, a huge stage, and so much energy it felt like the Super Bowl!

I dreamed about speaking at this event since the day I heard about it.

The reach of The Global Leadership Summit and its incredible participants is what makes it inspiring. More than 400,000 leaders from eighty countries participate in the event. My talk would be translated into dozens of languages and used to help leaders from Kenya and Ukraine to Chile and India. Making it even more personal, my wife was sitting in the front row, and my mentors and friends were also watching.

You can imagine how fired up I was to take the stage—and how that feeling was amplified when the band Rascal Flatts surprised everyone by taking the same stage just before me to play some of their most famous songs! For someone like me who grew up listening to Rascal Flatts, it was another unexpected and unforgettable moment at GLS.

The entire GLS experience taught me so much and reminded me that, even after twenty years of speaking, the “craft” of speaking is an area where even the most experienced speaker can continually grow—which is why I wanted to share these three lessons with you!

Jason Dorsey speaks at the 2019 Global Leadership Summit   Jason Dorsey speaks at the 2019 Global Leadership Summit

Here are three great things I learned keynoting The Global Leadership Summit:

  • Talks at the GLS are required to offer clear, actionable insights that leaders of any age, level, nationality, or occupation can immediately put to use. Participants must walk away not only informed and inspired, but also with new actions that they can use right away to create results. Even after two decades of speaking and more than one thousand standing ovations, I felt challenged to adapt my message to such a vast international audience. This was especially true since I had to cut my normal keynote time of one-to-three hours down to only thirty minutes! The experience of distilling down to the most important, actionable elements that were globally and cross-generationally applicable was quite the learning curve, but also a great learning experience for me. I learned that I can share a lot of actionable, never-before-heard content in a short time—and do so without talking fast.
  • The second thing I learned speaking at GLS was that my speech was as much a television production as it was a live talk. There were 7,000 amazing leaders in the room, representing organizations big and small, but another 400,000 were watching live in convention centers, meeting rooms, and conference halls around the world. It was very important for me to speak directly into the cameras so those watching from other locations knew that I was talking directly to them. My background doing 200+ television interviews helped, but it was still a pretty big change in style as I normally move around the stage (and the audience!) a lot—in this case, I needed to stay in an area that worked best with all the cameras. Learning how to give my high-energy, move-around-the-stage talk in a very small area is something that I’m sure future clients with simulcast events will appreciate!
  • The third thing I learned was that creating content that is globally translatable takes work! Yes, I’ve spoken all over the world, but my talks are usually designed for a specific, local or regional audience, whether it be Europe, Asia, or South America. Customizing for each of those audiences is straightforward because I’ve spoken to each so many times—and we have data for each region! But crafting one message that people from over eighty different countries could use was both tricky and an inspiring challenge. Learning how to do so and getting the great perspective of the GLS team was one of the most important insights I gained and something I know that I can use for years. It was also intriguing to think about how each region might interpret what I said, and the constraints unique to their geography or culture. All of that only made me more excited to get it right!

While taking the huge stage was an unforgettable experience, the crowd reaction throughout my talk is what I will remember the most. With large audiences, it is so important to hear them laughing, cheering, and engaging from the first story and point, but when you see them taking detailed notes across the auditorium—now that gets me fired up!

I’ll also never forget seeing my wife in the audience as my speech ended—the excitement on her face was inspiring! Keynoting events around the world keeps me away from home for more than one hundred nights each year, so having Denise there to share that moment with me at GLS was special.

Keynoting The Global Leadership Summit alongside extraordinary speakers such as Patrick Lencioni, Liz Bohannon, Jia Jiang, Devon Franklin, Todd Henry, and Craig Groeschel was an amazing experience. So was meeting Dr. Henry Cloud after my talk—and him asking me to be on his podcast and Facebook video. Wow!

After months preparing to keynote GLS, the response on social media to my talk was overwhelming—and continues to be. I’m still replying to comments on Instagram, Twitter, and Linkedin! I’ve been invited to speak in several other countries because of GLS, and continue to be amazed by how far the speech has traveled and the impact audience members say it had on them. For this, I am so grateful and inspired.

I love that every client presents a new challenge and opportunity to share what I’m discovering about Gen Z and Millennials and bringing generations together around the globe. A huge thanks to The Global Leadership Summit for providing a platform to spread our message about understanding and empowering every generation!

Thank you for being on this adventure with me!

Generations Keynote Speaking Leadership

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