Stavros Papagianneas

Hi Stavros, thank you for having us! Could you tell us a bit about how you started out as a public speaker? 

Let me start by saying that public speaking is one of the most important ways to get your message across. I started as a public speaker by making presentations in high schools and universities on the EU enlargement. I was then working at diplomatic missions in Brussels. When I started my own businesses, a few years ago, I began giving my own talks and enjoining the process of inspiring people.

What are your talks about?

The role of leadership communication in changing Europe’s image. I could talk hours about communications, branding and communicating Europe. I also wrote a book called “Rebranding Europe”. It illustrates how Europe can be rebranded by providing key recommendations on how to convey the added value of the EU in the daily lives of its citizens.

Sound very interesting! How much do you usually spend on preparing your talks?

Whole days ! I always consider the needs of my audience and look for new examples, books, studies, etc. I’m really satisfied about my talk when the audience ask many questions and when there is a debate afterwards. When people in the audience feel inspired and come to me to say that my speech was an added value to them, that’s when I feel happy about my performance. For example, the debate during and after my presentations about communicating Europe, is something I still see as one of my biggest accomplishments in public speaking!

A good speaker should be a great storyteller. Good stories can be the key to a compelling presentation that excites and engages those sitting in front of you. A good speaker should be focused on providing value to the audience and addressing them from their perspective. Also, you need to understand how the world sees you. This is crucial when you are delivering a speech.

I totally agree, the ability to tell a clear and inspiring story is something that differentiates the good public speaker from the best public speaker. Who is your biggest inspiration as a public speaker?

Winston Churchill. He once said that the difference between poor management and leadership is communication. During the Second World War, the radio was one of the few media for disseminating messages directly to the public. With his charisma and outstanding communication skills, the British prime minister managed to mobilise not only his own country but the whole world. While he spoke, millions of citizens listened and supported him in the campaign against fascism, intolerance and discrimination. Churchill communicated in a clear, consistent, honest and transparent manner and provided a comprehensible long-term vision. His determination and the authenticity of his message made him trustworthy and a key person of influence.

And from today’s speakers, is there one speaker that stands out for you?

Barack Obama is one of the greatest speakers in the world. By using creative language, he takes the audience to another place.  The best speeches have one clear purpose and Obama does that with ease. His 2012 presidential victory speech inspired and rallied Americans about the next four years and the role he plays in making the country stronger, more prosperous and more united.

Now, you have been busy with public speaking for quite some time now. Is there any advice that you could give to public speakers who are starting out?

Talk about what you know you’re good at. Talk about stuff you know. Don’t talk about things you don’t know and answer the two following questions: (1) Do you believe in what you deliver? (2) Does your message has value to this audience? If you can answer YES to those two questions, then you are on the right track.

So if your answer to those questions is YES, what should be the next step?

Practice! Practice! Practice! When it comes to practice, you goal is not to do it until you get your speech right. Your goal should be to practice until you can’t get it wrong.

And on that powerful message, I want to thank you for this interview, Stavros; It’s been a real pleasure!

You’re welcome!

If you’re inspired by Stavros’ story and want to become a public speaker yourself, you can create your own public speaking portfolio for free! All you have to do is click this link!