By Lesley Everett, FPSA, PSAE
2012-13 GSF President
Even before I became GSF President in 2012, I had been working internationally with many different cultures, so it was pure joy to be
able to revisit some of these
amazing places again and share the benefits
of speaking internationally.
Today, all speakers speak globally, even if we
never get on a plane out of our home country.
A significant percentage of the time, we will have
different cultures in the room as our audiences
and clients become more globally dispersed, and
with virtual presentations
becoming more popular,
the diversity is extensive.
A lesson I have learned
and shared with speakers
across the globe, is that
will always appreciate you
taking the time to under-
stand something about their
culture; being clear about
the no-go areas of content;
knowing what they appreciate most; learning
a little of the language; and sharing some of
what you have experienced while being in
their country. Your preparation in this respect
is pivotal to your impact and success on the
In addition, what you hear about another
culture should never be relied upon fully, and
certainly not taken as gospel until you have
been there and truly experienced it for yourself.
There are too many stereotypical tendencies
and, as speakers, we can fall into this trap.
Stop and think if you know something for
sure before you use it or judge.
My mantra is: Life is too short to live in
only one country. So, in 2014, I made a life-
changing decision to move
from the UK to the United
States. I realized during my
presidential year that my love
for adventure was being fed
intensively in this role. How-
ever, I also realized that doing
things differently, challenging the
status quo, and listening to other,
sometimes completely opposing
opinions, can be incredibly chal-
lenging. But it can be very reward-
ing to be open and hear what is being said by
stopping, turning things around and reconsider-
ing. I certainly learned things about leadership
that I never expected to learn, and this was one
of them. Even though I had considered myself a
good listener already, I probably wasn’t!
Being president of a talented executive leadership team and a wider international council, with
many different cultures and where each representative is a speaker with strong views, has their
own business and is used to making decisions and
putting them into action instantly, with board
meetings that were often at 5 a.m. or 11 p.m. due
to time zones, and to top it all, everybody was a
volunteer with their time, was an experience that
few leaders have a chance to experience. Looking
back, I realize the richness of the learning curve
that has become so useful in my own business.
If we want to remain relevant to our clients
and audiences, especially when more buyers are
Millennials, we have no choice but to be culturally aware. And the only real way to be authentic with this is to visit different countries and
educate yourself as much as possible.
I recommend that every speaker attend at least
one GSF convention outside your own country in
the next year. Just get it on the calendar and do
it! Then, you’ll know what I’m talking about.
Lesley Everett, FPSA, PSAE, is president and CEO of
Walking TALL Training & Consulting Inc. She specializes
in personal and corporate branding. Global organizations
on five continents use her professional expertise and executive brand programs. Go to www.lesleyeverett.com.
IS NOT OPTIONAL
2Everett passed the gavel to 2013-14
GSF President Cheryl
1Everett was honored to be
the GSF President
at the Global Speakers
Summit in Vancouver