Over the past few years I have honed my approach to producing futurist keynotes for clients. I have found that many people ask “how does Nikolas Badminton write a Futurist Keynote?”
They also wonder how I put together new thinking and such a depth of knowledge for every keynote so I wanted to share my process.
1. Be passionate about the future
I’ve been passionate and relentlessly enthusiastic about how humanity is progressing with technology since I was 10 years old. I have never stopped questioning how things work, how new developments will affect our lives, and how the modern world works. In 2012 I realized that there were no events I loved in Canada that focused on the future so I visited Cyborg Camp in Portland in December 2012, and subsequently hosted Cyborg Camp YVR the following year. I also ran From Now (Nora Young from CBC Spark keynoted), PRODUCT (a future-focused design thinking format), the widely-known DARK FUTURES, and Canada Futurists (in Vancouver and Toronto) to get discussions started in the community.
And, more community events are coming, and I am making 2 documentaries. The first is a feature with CBC, and the second is an 8-part documentary with a Hollywood legend and a large global video provider (shhh, it’s secret). I also host of CTV’s ‘Future Fridays‘ as well each month.
2. Read, watch, research, and question everything (all of the time)
Each day I start early by consuming as much news as I can through the Google News and BBC news apps. I also search Twitter for more alternative articles and follow some great thinkers on Tumblr as well. I share what I find on Linkedin, Twitter, and Tumblr.
Over the years my website has become an indispensable resource for executives, politicians, students, teachers, and other Futurists. I also write extensive annual reports on the coming year.
I call this relentless learning, and with that comes many questions. I discuss these at great lengths with people in my network. These is what truly sets me apart as a Futurist Speaker.
3. Making contact, and talking desired outcomes
Sometimes clients email me directly because they’ve been sent my details from existing clients (I am recommended often following conferences), through my website, through Linkedin, and in-person at events.
From there we talk about how you’d like to work – keynote speaking, event planning and curation, workshops, panel moderation and participation, appearance in a film or documentary, or providing strategic advice to executives or political leaders.
And, then we work out what we can do together. This always excites me and I love working with both new and existing clients.
4. Understand the client’s business, and develop hypotheses
Client team interviews are key to understand the company culture and what tensions there are in their industry. I then start wider research into the industry, related-industries, and beyond. It’s like dropping a stone into a still lake – the ripples take me to many unexpected places. I dig into my own research and then deep-dive into the industry and develop hypotheses around what will likely happen over the next 5, 10, 15 years, and beyond.
Then I capture thoughts and research over a 2 to 3 month period – typically in a Google Doc – and start to formulate the presentation tone and flow. Of course, I build provocation and wonder into the stories I tell.
5. Show up, pay respect, and blow minds
I always aim to get to events the day, or evening, before. If there is a reception I typically attend and get to know the organizers and the people I will be speaking to. I ask questions and test out some of my ideas (very subtly). That means I can then hone the presentation to be even more focused.
It does drive my clients a little crazy that I turn up with an adjusted presentation. They often want it ahead of time. This is why I use my laptop for each presentation.
I only have one aim when I hit the stage. BLOW PEOPLE’S MINDS! If the attendees don’t feel shook, excited, and a little fried then I haven’t done my job.
My favourite story is about a young Policy Analyst that come up to me after a 30 minute keynote to the Institute of Public Administration of Canada (IPAC). She said excitedly, “You’ve inspired me. I don’t think I can have the impact I want to make in the world in my job. You’ve shown me that.”
It was amazing and I felt humbled. Then just 6 months later she came up to me at the Waterloo Innovation Summit where she told me she had enrolled into the Master of Business, Entrepreneurship and Technology at the Conrad School in Waterloo. Well, that blew my mind. So awesome.
Nikolas is a world-leading Futurist that drives leaders to take action in creating a better world for humanity. He promotes exponential thinking along with a critical, honest, and optimistic view that empowers you with knowledge to plan for today, tomorrow, and for the future.