Sunday, August 20, 2006

Speaking in South Africa

International Speaking : South Africa

There is nothing quite as beautiful as an African dawn. Sitting in an open Jeep, watching elephant, zebra and buck at the waterhole while the sun shows its face is a feeling that can only be experienced not described.

I'm a South African and have lived in London, England for the past nine years, but still eagerly look forward to my regular visits and speaking assignments in South Africa each year.

South Africa is a rainbow nation, with a multitude of cultures that live together in harmony. Cape Town with Table Mountain, picturesque drives and excellent seafood restaurants makes it a year round tourist attraction. A short drive takes you into the wine lands and a great day out is wine tasting at a number of vineyards and a picnic under the oaks at the Boschendal Estate is a memorable experience. A day of easy driving takes you up the Garden route through the picture book towns of Hermanus, Knysna and George. A short distance away is a day of riding ostriches at the ostrich farms in Oudtshoorn. If first class is your travel mode, take the luxurious Blue Train from Cape Town to Johannesburg or Zimbabwe. Fly to Natal and experience the beautiful white beaches and tropical climate and spend a few evenings in the Drakensberg Mountains.

Johannesburg is the financial and business capital with numerous speaking engagements available. The downside is the escalation of crime, which means you need to be especially vigilant and sensible when visiting Johannesburg or the outlying areas.

Five hours drive or a short flight takes you to one of the worlds top tourist attractions, the Kruger National Park. It is the largest game reserve in the world and is larger than most small countries. Daily game drives will ensure sightings of more animals in the wild than you could ever imagine. My favourite game reserves are the small privately owned ones surrounding the Kruger Park. Your own driver will take you on game drives any time of the day or night and drive off any beaten track. I still have memories of watching, from the safety of our land rover, a leopard hunting its prey and late one night watching a family of hyena frolicking and playing with the pups. We were warned not to leave our bungalows after the evening 'boma' (barbeque) and when we awoke the next morning, found that lions had been walking around our camp during the night.

A total contrast is Sun City. After driving two hour from Johannesburg into the wilderness, an oasis appears that is a mini Las Vegas. It is made up of luxury hotels, The Lost City and The Palace (ultra luxurious), man-made lakes, casinos, one of the finest golf courses in the world (the Million Dollar Classic) and the Superbowl that has featured superstars in concert including Frank Sinatra and Michael Jackson. It is also a favourite convention venue for conferences and conventions and speakers have numerous assignments there.

I spoke at a large convention in Sun City in October last year and after the twelve hour flight from London, we enjoyed the typical excellent South African hospitality and four days of paradise.

If you're given the opportunity to speak in South Africa, grab it with both hands but be prepared to make some concessions. You need to view it as a working holiday as the value of the Rand (the monetary value) makes it very expensive for South Africans to book foreign speakers. You also need to learn a bit about the local humour and cultures. South Africans are similar to Americans and they enjoy high-powered, high-energy speakers with lots of humour. Your money will go a long way in South Africa and $8 will buy you a world-class meal at the finest restaurants. $10 will buy you a bottle of South Africa's finest wines.

One thing that impressed me when I was there was the quality of the South African speakers. People like Quentin Coetzee and Stef du Plessis are world-renowned speakers. There are also excellent bureaus. Stuart Lee and Marie Grey run professional bureaus and are great people to work with.

If you're looking for somewhere wonderful to visit, put South Africa at the top of your list.

Frank Furness CSP CFP is a professional speaker and trainer specialising in sales and sales management. He has educated, entertained and inspired audiences in 42 countries. Based in London, Frank is the President of the Professional Speakers Association of Europe and the current chair of the International PEG.
His publications and sales CDs have been sold globally. For more information or to sign up for the free 'Sales Tips & Ideas' newsletter, email or telephone+ 44 (0) 870 240 6505.


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