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Interview with Peter Brandl

In this personal interview with A-Speakers, aviation expert Peter Brandl gives a peek into his his inspiration and his best speaking experiences, and shares his three best tips for successful communication. Read more below.

How do you prepare for speaking engagements?

The first and most important step is a profound briefing. Thereafter each presentation is customized to meet the client’s needs and expectation. To do this right it is crucial to know which key messages the client wants to get across. Also I care about what kind of event I will speak at and if there is a theme of the event.
Being a pilot I have the ability to deliver my content in a metaphorical form what means I can clearly mark the costumers issues without using the moral pointing finger. This makes it possible to address messages in an emotional, positive and really effective way.
The final preparation are two steps: 1st is the selection of the umbrella topic. This could be a range from leadership, sales, team management, communication, decision-making up to life fulfillment. 2nd I take the costumers main issues find stories and examples for them and then put everything together. For me it is important to adjust every presentation exactly to the client’s needs and to his/her specific business.


How are your keynote presentations unique?

Aviation is a fascinating business and it always was. Also, everyone has to fly. Often many of the audience used a plane to come to the event and have to use one to get back home. This produces a huge connectivity between the presentation, the audience and the event.
But besides the connectivity it is clear that the content is relevant: Flight crews are requested to communicate perfectly at all times. They have to manage complex and challenging situations and to make the right decisions at the right time. In the corporate world it is no different and so it is obvious that the parallels between these two worlds are remarkable. My presentations take the audience on an exciting journey between airplane cockpits and business challenges. The leadership and communication strategies I present are easy to understand, hands on advise that can easily be put into practice right away.
My clear messages I combine with great stories, unique material and lots of humor.
There are a few other speaker pilots. But most of them are military pilots with nearly non corporate experience. Besides Chesley B. Sullenberger, the captain of the spectacular Hudson River landing, I am the only airline pilot and speaker.


Who or what inspires you most?

Everybody who does or did something extraordinary inspires me. That can be an outstanding athlete as well as a courageous mother who raises her children alone or one of the great thinkers of our days. Of course children are a special resource for inspiration for me. Just look at children’s approach to learning or how they deal with mistakes.
Last but not least I am inspired by my job as a professional pilot. Many ideas I also get out of my crew resource management courses. These are special trainings for pilots, which deal with the human factor in the cockpit where we deeply analyze accidents and what we can learn from them. I´m licensed by the authorities to give these trainings. There are lots of incidents in aviation like the famous landing on the Hudson River that are fascinating to study, from the pilot’s view as well as from the communication expert’s view.


Can you for provide 3 tips for successful communication?

No. 1: Listen! The main reason for communication problems is the fact that we don’t listen well enough.
No. 2: Stop Assuming! Often people think they know what the other one wants even before he opens his mouth. What would you think if your pilot tells you that he assumes to have enough fuel? Don´t assume – ask and check!.
No. 3: Better double check! Please ask yourself: How much would I bet that I really understood what the other person meant? Especially in critical situations: If you wouldn´t set a high bet amount, you better double check what the other person really meant.


Do you have a favorite experience from your speaking career?

Oh, there are many great lessons I have learned in the last 20 years of training and speaking. Of course, there were highlights like the first time I had more than 3000 people in the audience. And – like for every speaker – getting Standing Ovations for a presentation are very special moments. Another fascinating part of my speaking business is the possibility to present in many other countries, in many different cultures, and to meet and learn from people from around the world. But also it could be just an email that makes my day and touches me deeply: “Peter, your keynote changed my life”.


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