The Keynote Speaker’s Journey: Lessons from Sancy Suraj
As a magazine that specializes in interviewing keynote speakers, we had the privilege to speak with Sancy Suraj, the CEO of Knowles Training Institute, The Umonics Method, and Pinnacle Minds. Sancy Suraj is a memory athlete, trainer, and keynote speaker who has trained over 10,000 people worldwide. He is also a holder of one Guinness World Record and six Singapore Book of Records, all related to memorization feats. In this interview, we asked him ten questions about his journey to becoming a keynote speaker, his approach to presentations, and what sets great speakers apart from average ones.
Can you tell us about your journey to becoming a keynote speaker, and what inspired you to pursue this career path?
Thank you for the question. My journey to becoming a keynote speaker started when I was a memory athlete and trainer. Through my work, I realized that my ability to memorize and recall information quickly and accurately could help others. I began to develop my own unique approach to teaching people how to improve their memory, and that eventually led me to become a keynote speaker.
My first experiences as a speaker were at small events and conferences, where I was able to share my knowledge and insights on memory training. Over time, I began to get more opportunities to speak at larger events, and that helped me refine my presentation skills and develop my personal brand.
What inspired me to pursue this career path was my desire to help people. I have always been passionate about memory training, and I knew that I could use my skills and expertise to make a positive impact on others. As a keynote speaker, I am able to reach a much larger audience than I ever could as a memory trainer alone. I am able to share my insights on memory training and other topics that are important to me, and I hope that my talks inspire others to improve their own lives.
One of the key lessons that I have learned on my journey to becoming a keynote speaker is the importance of authenticity. I believe that the best speakers are those who are true to themselves and their values, and who are able to connect with their audience on a personal level. For me, that means being honest and transparent about my own experiences, both the successes and the failures. By sharing my own journey and what I have learned along the way, I hope to inspire others to pursue their own goals and dreams.
What are some of the most important lessons you’ve learned throughout your career as a keynote speaker, and how have they shaped your approach to presentations?
Thank you for the question. Over the course of my career as a keynote speaker, I have learned many important lessons that have shaped my approach to presentations. One of the most important lessons is the importance of preparation. I believe that the best speakers are those who are thoroughly prepared and have a deep understanding of their topic. Before each presentation, I spend a significant amount of time researching and gathering information, and I practice my presentation multiple times to ensure that I am comfortable with the material. This level of preparation allows me to deliver a confident and engaging presentation.
Another important lesson that I have learned is the importance of audience engagement. A successful keynote speaker is able to connect with their audience and create a meaningful experience for them. One way that I engage my audience is by using interactive techniques, such as asking questions or leading exercises. I also try to incorporate stories and personal anecdotes into my presentations, as I believe that they help to make the content more relatable and memorable for the audience.
A third lesson that I have learned is the importance of being adaptable. No two audiences are exactly the same, and as a keynote speaker, I have to be able to adjust my approach based on the needs and interests of each audience. This means being able to think on my feet and make changes to my presentation as needed. Additionally, I have learned that it is important to be open to feedback and to continually seek opportunities for growth and improvement.
Overall, my approach to presentations has been shaped by these lessons and others that I have learned throughout my career as a keynote speaker. I believe that a successful presentation requires a combination of thorough preparation, audience engagement, and adaptability, and I strive to incorporate these elements into each of my talks.
Can you speak to the role that practice and preparation play in delivering effective keynotes, and how you go about preparing for your own presentations?
Thank you for the question. Practice and preparation are essential for delivering effective keynotes. The amount of preparation that goes into a presentation can make all the difference between a mediocre talk and a memorable one. As a keynote speaker, I take preparation very seriously and believe that it is the key to success.
The first step in my preparation process is to research my topic thoroughly. I want to ensure that I have a deep understanding of the subject matter and that my presentation is grounded in solid research and data. I then work on developing a clear structure for my presentation, focusing on the main ideas that I want to convey and the key takeaways for the audience.
Once I have a structure in place, I begin practicing my presentation. This involves going through the material multiple times, both alone and in front of others, to ensure that I am comfortable with the content and delivery. I often practice in front of a mirror or record myself to identify areas that need improvement. I also pay close attention to my body language, tone of voice, and other nonverbal cues to ensure that I am conveying confidence and enthusiasm.
Another important aspect of my preparation process is anticipating and addressing potential challenges or questions that may arise during the presentation. I try to think ahead and consider the audience’s perspective, so that I am better prepared to address their needs and concerns.
Overall, practice and preparation play a crucial role in delivering effective keynotes. By investing time and effort into research, structure, and delivery, I am able to create a memorable experience for the audience and deliver a presentation that meets their needs and expectations.
“Effective keynotes are crafted through diligent practice and meticulous preparation. From research to delivery, the commitment to practice ensures a memorable presentation that captivates the audience and leaves a lasting impact.”
How do you tailor your presentations to different audiences and industries, and what factors do you take into consideration when doing so?
Thank you for the question. As a keynote speaker, it is important to tailor my presentations to different audiences and industries to ensure that they are relevant and engaging. To do so, I take into consideration several key factors.
First, I research the audience and industry that I will be speaking to. This involves learning about their needs, challenges, and interests, as well as their knowledge and expertise in the topic area. This helps me to better understand the audience and to develop a presentation that is tailored to their specific needs and interests.
Second, I consider the format and style of the presentation. Different audiences and industries may have different expectations in terms of the length of the presentation, the use of visual aids, and the level of interactivity. For example, a more technical audience may prefer a presentation that is heavy on data and statistics, while a more creative audience may prefer a presentation that incorporates more storytelling and visual elements.
Third, I adapt my language and tone to fit the audience. This involves using language and examples that are familiar and relatable to the audience, and avoiding jargon or technical language that may be unfamiliar. I also adjust my tone based on the audience, taking into consideration their level of knowledge and interest in the topic.
Overall, tailoring presentations to different audiences and industries requires a deep understanding of the audience and their needs, as well as the ability to adapt to different formats, styles, and languages. By taking these factors into consideration, I am able to deliver presentations that are engaging, informative, and relevant to the audience.
Can you share a specific example of a time when you faced a challenge or setback in your career as a keynote speaker, and how you overcame it?
Thank you for the question. As a keynote speaker, I have faced several challenges and setbacks throughout my career. One specific example that comes to mind is a time when I was delivering a keynote presentation to a large audience, and I experienced technical difficulties with my slides.
As I began my presentation, I noticed that the slides were not displaying properly on the screen. I tried to troubleshoot the issue on the spot, but was unable to fix the problem. I was faced with a difficult choice: either continue the presentation without the visual aids, or delay the presentation until the issue could be resolved.
In the end, I decided to continue the presentation without the slides. While this was not ideal, I was able to rely on my own knowledge and expertise to deliver the presentation without the support of the visual aids. I focused on engaging the audience through storytelling and examples, and was able to maintain their attention and interest throughout the presentation.
After the presentation, I took the time to reflect on the experience and to learn from it. I realized that while technical difficulties are always a possibility, there are steps that can be taken to mitigate their impact. For example, I now make sure to have backup copies of my presentation on multiple devices, and to test the equipment ahead of time to ensure that everything is working properly.
Overall, this experience taught me the importance of adaptability and the need to be prepared for the unexpected. While setbacks and challenges are never easy, they can provide valuable learning opportunities and help to strengthen our skills as keynote speakers.
“Challenges and setbacks are inevitable in any career, but it’s how we adapt and overcome them that truly defines our success. As a keynote speaker, I’ve learned to be resilient, prepared, and adaptable, turning setbacks into opportunities for growth and improvement.”
When asked about the lessons he has learned throughout his career as a keynote speaker, Sancy Suraj stressed the importance of being authentic and vulnerable, understanding your audience, and constantly improving your craft. He also spoke about the role of practice and preparation in delivering effective presentations and how he tailors his presentations to different audiences and industries.
Sancy Suraj also shared a specific example of a challenge he faced in his career and how he overcame it. He talked about the importance of adapting to unforeseen circumstances and being able to think on your feet during a presentation. When asked about staying up-to-date with the latest trends and developments in public speaking, Sancy Suraj emphasized the need for constant learning and incorporating new knowledge into his own presentations.
As for measuring the success of his keynotes, Sancy Suraj discussed the importance of looking beyond immediate audience feedback and using metrics such as repeat bookings and referrals to evaluate his own performance. He also shared advice for aspiring keynote speakers, encouraging them to be passionate, authentic, and persistent in pursuing their dreams.
How do you stay up-to-date with the latest trends and developments in public speaking, and how do you incorporate that knowledge into your own presentations?
Thank you for the question. As a keynote speaker, it is essential to stay up-to-date with the latest trends and developments in public speaking in order to continuously improve and refine my own presentations. To do so, I use a variety of strategies to stay informed and to incorporate that knowledge into my own work.
First, I regularly attend conferences and workshops focused on public speaking and related topics. These events provide opportunities to network with other speakers, to learn from experts in the field, and to gain new insights into the latest trends and developments. I also make a point of attending sessions that are outside of my area of expertise, as this can help to broaden my knowledge and perspectives.
Second, I read widely on topics related to public speaking and presentation skills. This includes books, articles, blogs, and social media posts. I look for content that is authored by leading experts in the field, and that provides practical advice and strategies that I can incorporate into my own presentations.
Third, I take advantage of online resources and tools to stay informed and to enhance my skills. This includes online courses, webinars, and podcasts, which provide opportunities to learn from experts and to gain new insights and perspectives on public speaking.
Finally, I seek feedback from audiences and colleagues to continuously improve my own presentations. I regularly solicit feedback from attendees, and I also seek out mentorship and coaching from other speakers and experts in the field. This feedback helps me to identify areas for improvement, and to incorporate new trends and developments into my own presentations.
Overall, staying up-to-date with the latest trends and developments in public speaking requires a commitment to ongoing learning and professional development. By staying informed and by incorporating new insights and strategies into my own work, I am able to deliver presentations that are engaging, informative, and impactful.
What do you think sets great keynote speakers apart from average ones, and how do you strive to achieve greatness in your own work?
As someone who has had the opportunity to learn from and work alongside many great keynote speakers, I believe that what sets them apart from average ones is their ability to truly connect with their audience, to inspire and motivate them, and to leave a lasting impression. Great keynote speakers have a unique ability to tap into the emotions and experiences of their audience, and to make them feel like they are a part of the conversation.
One of the ways I strive to achieve greatness in my own work as a keynote speaker is by always putting the needs of my audience first. I take the time to research and understand the challenges and experiences of the individuals and groups I will be speaking to, and I tailor my presentations to their specific needs and interests. I also focus on delivering presentations that are engaging, interactive, and thought-provoking, and that leave a lasting impression on my audience.
Another key factor in achieving greatness as a keynote speaker is a commitment to continuous improvement and professional development. This means constantly seeking out new knowledge, skills, and strategies, and being open to feedback and constructive criticism. I am always looking for ways to improve my presentations, whether through attending conferences and workshops, seeking mentorship and coaching from other speakers, or using technology and data to measure the impact of my presentations.
Finally, I believe that a great keynote speaker must also be a great storyteller. The ability to craft and share compelling stories is essential for engaging and inspiring an audience, and for leaving a lasting impression. I strive to incorporate stories and real-world examples into my presentations whenever possible, and to use humor, emotion, and other storytelling techniques to connect with my audience and make my presentations more memorable.
Overall, achieving greatness as a keynote speaker requires a combination of skills, strategies, and a commitment to continuous improvement. By putting the needs of my audience first, focusing on continuous learning and development, and using storytelling and other techniques to engage and inspire my audience, I strive to deliver presentations that are truly great.
Can you speak to the importance of authenticity and vulnerability in creating meaningful connections with your audience, and how you incorporate those qualities into your presentations?
I believe that authenticity and vulnerability are essential qualities for creating meaningful connections with an audience. When we are willing to be open and honest about our own experiences, struggles, and vulnerabilities, we create a space for others to connect with us on a deeper level. This can help to build trust, empathy, and understanding, and to create an environment where meaningful learning and growth can occur.
Incorporating authenticity and vulnerability into presentations can be challenging, as it requires a willingness to be vulnerable and to share personal stories and experiences. However, I believe that the rewards are worth the risks. When we are willing to be authentic and vulnerable, we invite our audience to do the same, and we create a space for deeper connection and learning.
One way that I incorporate authenticity and vulnerability into my presentations is by sharing personal stories and experiences that relate to the topics I am discussing. I share my successes and failures, my fears and doubts, and my own journey of learning and growth. By doing so, I show my audience that I am human, and that I have faced many of the same challenges and struggles that they may be facing.
Another way that I incorporate authenticity and vulnerability into my presentations is by being willing to admit when I don’t have all the answers. I believe that it is important to be honest about the limitations of our own knowledge and experience, and to be willing to learn and grow alongside our audience. By being vulnerable in this way, we create a space for others to share their own knowledge and experiences, and to contribute to the learning and growth of the entire group.
Overall, I believe that authenticity and vulnerability are essential qualities for creating meaningful connections with an audience. By sharing personal stories and experiences, being honest about our limitations, and creating a space for others to connect and contribute, we can create presentations that are not only informative, but also transformative.
How do you measure the success of your keynotes beyond immediate audience feedback, and what metrics do you use to evaluate your own performance?
While immediate audience feedback is important, I believe that it is only one part of measuring the success of a keynote presentation. To truly evaluate the effectiveness of a presentation, it is important to consider a range of metrics and to look at both short-term and long-term outcomes.
One important metric for evaluating the success of a keynote is audience engagement. This can include metrics such as the number of questions asked during the Q&A session, the amount of interaction on social media during and after the presentation, and the level of participation in any interactive elements of the presentation, such as polls or group exercises.
Another important metric is the impact of the presentation on the audience’s behavior or attitudes. This can be more difficult to measure, but can include things like changes in the way that audience members approach their work or personal lives, increased adoption of new strategies or techniques discussed in the presentation, or improvements in organizational outcomes such as productivity, engagement, or customer satisfaction.
In addition to audience feedback and behavior, I also evaluate my own performance using self-reflection and feedback from trusted colleagues or mentors. I review video recordings of my presentations to look for areas where I can improve my delivery or content, and I seek feedback from audience members and event organizers to understand what worked well and what could be improved.
Finally, I believe that it is important to set clear goals for each presentation and to evaluate success against those goals. This might include goals such as increasing awareness of a particular topic or issue, inspiring action or change in the audience, or simply delivering a memorable and engaging presentation that leaves a positive impression on the audience.
Overall, measuring the success of a keynote presentation requires a multifaceted approach that considers a range of metrics and outcomes. By focusing on audience engagement, behavior and attitudes, self-reflection, and goal setting, we can ensure that our presentations are effective, engaging, and impactful.
Finally, what advice would you give to aspiring keynote speakers who are just starting out on their own journey?
As someone who has been in the industry for many years and has experienced both successes and setbacks, my advice to aspiring keynote speakers would be to never stop learning and growing. It’s important to invest in your own education and development, whether that means taking courses, attending conferences, or seeking out mentorship from experienced speakers. The more you can learn and expand your knowledge, the more value you will be able to offer to your audiences.
Another important piece of advice is to find your own unique voice and perspective. Don’t try to be someone else or emulate another speaker’s style. Your authenticity and unique perspective are what will set you apart and make you memorable to audiences. Spend time reflecting on your own experiences, values, and insights, and figure out how you can use those to create a compelling message that resonates with your audience.
Finally, I would encourage aspiring keynote speakers to be persistent and patient. Success in this industry doesn’t happen overnight, and it often requires a lot of hard work, dedication, and perseverance. Don’t get discouraged by setbacks or rejections, but instead use them as opportunities to learn and grow. Keep pushing yourself to improve and refine your craft, and eventually, with persistence and a bit of luck, you will start to see the fruits of your labor.
In summary, my advice to aspiring keynote speakers is to invest in your education, find your unique voice and perspective, and be persistent and patient in your pursuit of success. With hard work, dedication, and a commitment to lifelong learning, you can achieve great things in this exciting and rewarding industry.
“Embrace the journey of becoming a keynote speaker with a hunger for learning, a commitment to authenticity, and unwavering persistence. Your unique voice and perspective combined with continuous growth will propel you towards success and make your mark on the stage.”
Sancy Suraj’s insights into the world of keynote speaking have been invaluable. His journey from a memory athlete and trainer to becoming a successful keynote speaker is an inspiration to anyone looking to pursue a career in this field. We hope that his experiences and advice will encourage others to strive for greatness in their own work and make meaningful connections with their audiences.