Exploring cultures, countries and comfort zones
Globe-trotters Dish on
Thinking about going
global? Before you get on
a plane, read what award-winning international
speaker Christine Clifford
Beckwith, CSP, and husband Harry Beckwith, marketing director of Beckwith Partners, have to say
about speaking internationally and what
it takes to become a guru.
How do you become an
Harry: It seems you must
start with a successful
domestic speaking career
and you must become a
Christine: Your real
focus should be on the
countries with the general
level of affluence to support speakers that tend to
view Americans very favorably, and view
the speaker as an expert on that topic.
Some humor does not translate and
English may be the world’s most suc-
cinct language. It always takes the trans-
lator longer to speak than it takes you.
In China or Japan, it’s comical. If you
have seen the movie, Lost in Translation,
you have a sense of the problem. In
China, the translator joins you on stage
as you speak the equivalent of a para-
graph. The translator will translate it
into what seems like
graphs, so you need to
allow more time.
speak for less than their usual fee.
Christine: Get the names of the
seminar companies and bureaus in
these countries, and discuss your possibilities with them. For the most part,
these companies need speakers who
can command high ticket prices from
attendees. Tell the seminar company in
Ecuador why you feel confident that 80
Ecuadorians would pay $175 to hear
you. You might be right.
be the world’s
always takes the
to speak than it
Where is the best opportunity for American
speakers right now?
Christine: We believe
it is India and South
America. There are
good seminar companies in these countries,
and the people of India are especially
receptive to American experts. Brazil
is booming and the speakers’ market is
growing, too. China has been growing,
obviously, but you need to be aware of
different cultural issues there.
Are the rewards worth the effort?
Christine & Harry: Yes, foreign events
and trips are some of the highlights
of our careers and our life together.
In fact—and it’s the only sensible way
to do it—we always ask for travel for
two (either one first-class/business class
ticket, or two coach tickets). And we’ve
always gotten them. We’ve had amazing
experiences we would never have experienced here in the United States.
How do speakers become
recognized as gurus?
Harry: There are two ways. Teach at a
well-regarded university. In some countries, that’s the clearest signal of guru
status. Alternatively, you can write a
book that sells very well. Our guess is
that 200,000 U.S. sales might be the
required minimum. Naturally, if you
teach at a school like The Wharton
School of the University of Pennsylvania
or Harvard University and have written
a big seller, you are perfect.
Is international speaking different?
How could someone assess their possibility of speaking in other countries?
Harry: Ask yourself: “Do I have guru
credentials? Can I—or a seminar host
in another country—make a strong
‘guru case’ for me on the topic?” Your
current domestic speaking fee should
be at least equal to the cost of the
average round-trip coach airfare to
that country. South America is famous
for speaking and training opportunities for business speakers willing to
Beckwith, CSP, is an
award-winning international speaker. She is
the author of six books,
including Not Now...I’m Having No
Hair Day! and co-author with her husband,
Harry of You, Inc., The Art of Selling
Yourself. Christine serves as president/CEO
of The Cancer Club, the world’s largest
producer of humorous and helpful products
for people with cancer, and is sales director
of Beckwith Partners. Harry Beckwith is
the marketing director of Beckwith Partners
and has written four bestselling books,
including Selling the Invisible, translated
into 23 languages. For more information,