I’ve spoken on a broad variety of topics — from tech and social media through to languages and HSR, in China, Europe, and other places. I’m at my best when I’m able to speak in English. Take a look at my speaking experience below (newest talk first), and book me for a talk if you’re up for something unique.

Important: Full lessons at schools and universities, and presentations given to railway authorities, are given on a separate page. However, academic talks (lectures, seminars) that are not part of a regular lesson are included below.

Tap or click an event to get quick info. More details can be accessed using the “Get More Info” links inside each brief event’s introduction.

06 February 2015, Cardiff, Wales, UK
Cardiff University; est’d 30 people; English
Get More Info

DF Speaking 2015 02 06 GBR HS

I joined Cardiff University in the First Annual Conference UK-China Media and Cultural Studies Association’s event, centred on Chinese Media and Cultural Studies: Consumption, Content and Crisis. The presentation — What’s Zhongnanhai Saying to Us? — took a look at the messages sent by three past and present Chinese presidents — Jiang, Hu, and Xi, at moments that mattered — around changes of leadership and Xi’s first two New Year’s Addresses.

04 February 2015, London, UK
LSE (LSESU); est’d 80 people; English
Get More Info

DF Speaking 2015 02 04 GBR HS

I attended and presented a talk on Invisible Censorship in China at the London School of Economics and Political Science, and was also part of the panel which took questions. The event was hosted by the China Development Society of LSE Student Union, and featured Professor Charlie Beckett, director of Polis, as chair, and Professor Hugo de Burgh, director of the China Media Centre at the University of Westminster, as the other speaker.

05 November 2014, London, UK
University of Westminster; est’d 20 people; English
Get More Info

DF Speaking 2014 11 05 HS

In this talk, I introduced social media in China to an audience of noted academics and regular students — this was the China Media Centre’s best-attended event in the 2014 / 2015 academic year. For many, the Chinese Internet resembled an at times chaotic mix of contradictions, misconceptions, difficult-to-understand political terminology, and much more. Chinese authorities had to be smart in how they used the three tools I mentioned in order to deal with movements and sentiments on the Web — regardless if they chose to tackle, tame, or harness the conversation online. The talk ended with a very open-ended question: What’s next?, which generated at times very lively debate.

12 October 2014, London, UK
University of Westminster, Chinese Students and Scholars Association; est’d 40 people; Chinese
Get More Info (pre-announcement)

2014 10 12 CHN HS

In this Study and Career Event, I shared my best practices in studying and how to help students get better grades. I spoke from the point of view of both a student and a teacher in both China and in Europe, and fully used my 22 years of education and teaching from 2000 to teach students “best tricks”. My presentation ended up widely referred to by other speakers of the event, including Chinese students who have managed to graduate from the University of Westminster and have successfully found a job in the UK.

15 July 2014, Beijing, China
Chaoyang District government; est’d 20 people; English
Get More Info

2014 07 15 CHN HS

My approximately hour-long presentation briefed members of the foreign office of the District Government of Chaoyang, Beijing, on the proper use of English. In particular, ways to avoid “Chinglish” were shown as a key part of the presentation. This was my first-ever presentation to an all-government audience. To ensure learners were “English-savvy”, even the official introduction given by the district foreign office was in English. This was a visible attempt to improve the quality of English used by Chaoyang, Beijing’s international district home to many expats and embassies, in the run-up to Beijing’s hosting of the APEC summit in late 2014, which it would host in style.

17-18 May 2014, Beijing, China
Beijing Foreign Languages Festival; est’d 100+ people; mostly English with some Chinese
Get More Info

2014 05 17 CHN HS

For 20 minutes, I had the entire stage to myself, as I prepared to get the audience excited about a new handbook I co-authored to improve English for locals in Beijing. Fully aware, though, that I’d get much better results if I shared the stage, I did a competition where a great many kids came onstage and read out loud everyday English. This was great as they could both learn and be part of the event. This was very different to a “regular” lesson in China; the microphone belonged to the kids, not me, as everyone around the stage were interested in learning English from one of the authors of the handbook. The twenty minutes simply zipped by, and everyone left the stage happy to have learnt more and to have improved their English in a very interactive way.

April and May 2013, Beijing, China
Beijing Tuanjiehu Community English; est’d 100+ people; mostly English
Details coming soon

2013 May

In both April and May 2013, I spoke at Beijing’s Tuanjiehu Community, with both the young and old interested in learning English. The presentations centred on how to dump Chinglish, including when people might fall into writing Chinglish without knowing it. In the May 2013 presentation, the school I spoke in was recognised as an Activity Centre (Activity Base) for Beijing’s new foreign language learning efforts. The well-received presentations were joined by the co-host of my programme (Wider World Waves), members of the community’s organising committee, and students, members of the armed police, academics, and seniors.

03 September 2012, Australia (via Skype)
Beyond Zero Emissions; delivery by Skype; English
Details coming soon

2012 09 03 CHN HS

I was saved the flight ticket to Australia — and it was my first presentation done via Skype. In this nearly one hour long presentation, I gave the audience in Australia a briefing into Chinese HSR. Following a quick intro, I showed the audience some of China’s sleeker train sets, including the new CRH380 trains. Next-generation architecture from China’s new HSR hubs was also shown, including Beijing South, Shanghai Hongqiao, and Guangzhou South. The audience loved the presentation, especially when I tried to relate how cheap even Business Class lie-flat seats were in terms of how much it cost in terms of one or more packs of Vegemite.

18 March 2012, Beijing, China
Chinese HSR Travel Cooperation Conference; est’d 200+ people; Chinese
Details coming soon

2012 03 18 CHN HS

The inaugural Chinese High Speed Railway Travel Cooperation Conference took place in March 2012. I was a two-time speaker at the event. China National Radio presenter Ya Ping first hosted me and other travel gurus who visited Taiwan. Next, I was given 10–15 minutes onstage to introduce my HSR travel experience, as well as my views on how China should proceed with high speed rail. One of the points I touched on in the presentation was the need to improve English language services, as HSR is now rapidly replacing the airplane as the preferred method of transport for foreigners inside China. Otherwise, I spoke objectively but also in favour of HSR; I thought China’s building of these green, fast channels of transit was a good idea.

03 March 2012, Beijing, China
Chinese HSR Development Summit; est’d 15 people; Chinese
Details coming soon

2012 03 03 CHN HS

I joined a select elite of intellectuals and specialists advocating that China continue its highly beneficial high speed railway programme. During my speeches, I noted reasons favouring HSR development, including geographical (there are 30 or more provincial capitals home to over a million people), economical (there has been major growth following the opening of HSR services, with the Beijing to Tianjin being a prime example) and a variety of reasons. Instead of lowering speeds, my view was that they should be increased to improve efficiency. I also made a notion with five key pointers for HSR growth in China: build it better, drive it safer, run it faster, serve people better, design it for the future

03 March 2010, Beijing, China
Ignite Beijing; est’d 120+ people; Chinese
Get More Info

2010 Ignite

I shared my very unique experience as active Twitter user with a fascination in travelling around China with the audience. My talk described how he has started exploring China with its HSR network expanding, how exploring hither-to “new” destinations broadens his mind, and how posting these on Twitter aroused more outside interest in his travels across China. I remarked that travel, once really only kept to oneself, is now different when you share it on social media; in essence, you are also “sharing” your journey.

05 December 2009, Guangzhou, China
TEDxGuangzhou; est’d 750+ people; Chinese
Get More Info

DF Speaking 2009 12 05 CHN HS

I was one of the earliest adopters of the new social media platform, and had been tweeting nearly non-stop since 2007. In this presentation, I told people how social media made you “stay true”; it was too challenging to create a 100% fake account and “stay fake”. I recounted how the “randomness” and the sole point in common amongst strangers — Twitter — made for new and rewarding friendships. I also showed the audience how to maximise the service by using autopost services such as Posterous.
Photo attribution: Cecilia Lee

15 November 2008, Guangzhou, China
Chinese Blogger Conference; est’d 300 people; Chinese
Get More Info

2008 11 15 CHN HS

Twitter, Facebook, and other social media networks have been building bridges between China and the wider world. As a result, people feel increasingly connected. In this presentation, I floated the idea of the “international Chinese”, not a nationality-defined term but much more a spirit shared by those in China tweeting with the rest of the world. I noted that despite cultural differences between the two cultures, thanks to social media, bridges were still being built. I also re-explored his views on the issues that had defined the year 2008, as he saw it via Twitter and other networks.
Photo attribution: Elliott Ng

03 November 2005, Beijing, China
World Usability Day Beijing; est’d 30+ people; Chinese
Get More Info

2005 11 03 CHN HS

I has been using Macs since 1991, so I knew what was good design. As head of a Mac group, I was invited by World Usability Day Beijing to talk about design and usability, and I used Apple as a prime example. I keynoted the event; in my presentation, I looked at Apple’s UI evolution, noting pros and cons. The popular talk filled up the upper floor of a café in Beijing’s Houhai bar district; it also landed me an opportunity afterwards to have a column at UITimes.com, a China-based industry site on UI, where I contributed to his column, Designs from a Third Perspective, maintained in the day.

The following are other events at which I spoke.

Say Goodbye to Chinglish!
(Mainly English, Harbin, November 2011)
Audience: Approx 200

When you’ve 2,500+ Chinglish pics, what’s next? Show it off!

However, there’s an art in showing it off the right way — either laugh hard at it, or show it off in a way that it educates — rather ridicules. I took the latter approach and in my two Say Goodbye to Chinglish presentations in northeastern China’s province of Heilongjiang, presented on how Chinglish can be eradicated or at least mitigated.

In one of my presentations, the audience liked it so much that an impromptu play took place — of course, in English!

Startup Tuesday Shanghai
(English, Shanghai, February 2009)

In February 2009, I was invited to give a quick presentation in Shanghai with regard to a project he was working on at that time — a city wiki around China. This has since been merged with his other projects. In the presentation, where I shared the stage with Dianping.com’s CEO, I introduced my way of keeping tabs on cities — by spreading out from the metro exits and discovering the city from there.

Beijing Foreign Studies University Go Ahead Film Show
(English, Beijing, May 2007)
Audience: Approx 500

In May 2007, I gave an audience of around 500 a look at my clip, Beijing 2002-2007: Gearing up for the Games, which was a very quick documentary developing at breakneck speed for the 2008 Summer Olympics. Sadly, the clip itself was later destroyed when one of my hard drives broke down for good — although I still have a few screenshots of the clip. I also did a 5-minute presentation on how this was made, all in English, fitting for a university known for its perfection in the language.

Other Speaking Experiences

  • 29 November 2006: Foreign Languages Lesson (English, Chinese, German, French and Italian), Shenzhen, China. Spoke to 100+ people participating in a fashion contest; taught the audience English, German, French and Italian.
  • August 2006: MACitizen Hong Kong: Spoke to the MACitizen user group in Chinese (Mandarin).
  • 21 May 2006: Spoke about the Mac at the Beijing Forestry University (mostly Mandarin).
  • January 2006: Macworld and East Bay Macintosh User Group, San Francisco, United States. Spoke in the User Group Lounge (13 Jan 2006) and to the East Bay Mac User Group (12 Jan 2006).
  • 04 December 2002: Delivered speech to a Culture and Economics class at the University of International Business and Economics on Starbucks and the Chinese market. Received top score thanks to the engaging manner in which the speech was delivered. (Mostly Mandarin.)
  • 13 September 2002: First speech ever, delivered to an audience of 100 at the University of International Business and Economics, Beijing, on my knowledge and impressions of European continental law. (I was a student of that class — International Trade Law — and people were remarkably reluctant to talk in front of others.) In October 2002, I completed mid-term exams using a presentation instead of “writing it out”. (Mostly Mandarin.)