DAVID JP PHILLIPS – Swedish king of presentations amazes at TEDXZAGREB


One of the main factors in human development is communication, written and verbal. However, in order for communication to be efficient, we also need presentation skills (the person who wrote this sentence has obviously never seen Croatian Parliamentary session). 

David JP Phillips has recently held a guest lecture at TEDxZagreb conference. His mission was to demonstrate what made a good public speaker and teach the audience how to develop skills that would ensure the listeners are intrigued by the topic. His TEDx speeches “How to avoid death by Power Point” and “The magical science of storytelling” have over 2 million views online, his books are sold in over 30 countries and his company is the largest center for presentation skill education in Scandinavia. 

Despite all of that, David was not a happy man. He thought he could do better and more so he came to Zagreb to, aside from attending TEDx, meet me and get some useful advice and tips. He also asked me to do an interview with him because all publicity is good publicity, especially when written by Dear Leader on flash.hr news portal. I looked into the sky, threw my hands up in despair and cried out: “Oh, God! When I asked you to send me a Swede, I was thinking of a Swedish woman, not a man!” 

You were born in Sweden. In 1960, Sweden had one of the highest suicide ratings in the world. Are you also suicidal since you came to Zagreb, Croatia to earn for your daily bread? Usually people from this area try to run away to Ireland or even depressive Sweden to look for a decent job. 

Nope, just came down for the beautiful country and the TEDx talk.

How did you like TEDx Zagreb event?

Loved it, super professional!

One of the biggest fears a lot of people have is the fear of public speaking. Are you nervous before your performances? Do you calm your nerves the old fashioned way with a few white lines or you have some other secret method?

True, that is said. And I am as well nervous at times. A great way to relieve the stress is to think of positive memories or look at images and videos of your kids or your loved ones. When doing so your brain produced Oxytocin which hinders the stress reaction hormon Cortisol from increasing its presence.

Did you study public speaking or something else before suddenly realizing it wasn’t for you and you should go amongst the people to speak like Jesus did? 

I’ve always enjoyed communication however I really didn’t like public speaking at first but learned to love it.

We had a short lunch break because it was hard to chat on empty stomachs. 

50 A Burger and Champagne bar – David JP Phillips – Harvest burger; Photo: Dear Leader, Flash.hr

David decided to go with the vegetarian burger and I had spicy Korean chicken. 

50 Burger and Champagne bar – Bibim Memi;l Photo: Dear Leader, Flash.hr

Can you recommend a few books which inspired you and which I should read if I ever decided to become a decent public speaker. I have already read Mein Kampf so we can check that off my list. 

Brain Rules, Blink and The Hitchhikers Guide to The Galaxy are three great books!

What did your parents say when you told them you would travel the world and speak to people for living? Did they have a serious conversation with you? Father: “Enough with talking! Find yourself a decent job for once!” 

They were and are super proud!

You give over a hundred speeches in a year. Which country was the most interesting for you to visit? Do people in different countries react the same to your speeches or do you need to adjust advices depending on the cultural differences? Is it the same working with corporations, politicians, general public or do you have a different approach for each? 

There are differences of course. Americans are commonly very easy to speak to as they are quite straight forward with their emotions whilst an Asian audience can be more challenging in the sense of reading emotions from the audience. I don’t really have a favorite country to speak in, they are all fun and inspiring in different ways.

You told me there were 110 important steps one should take to master public speaking or performance. Could you maybe share 3 of the most important steps? 

Use functional hand gestures to increase the power and clarity of what you are saying, have an open body language to show that you’re not threatened and remember to pause instead of using filler sounds like ehhh ahhh.

At that moment, the owner of 50 Burger and Champagne Bar, Adena Lavin, arrived.

David JP Phillips and Adena Lavin; Photo: Dear Leader, Flash.hr

She explained to him in fluent Chinese: “Fuck 110 steps. There is only one step in Croatia and that is schnapps. I chug a couple of those bastards before a performance and I talk, talk, talk until morning.”

David JP Phillips and Adena Lavin; Photo: Dear Leader, Flash.hr

David got hooked on schnapps like Donald Trump on Stormy Daniels.

David JP Phillips and schnapps; Photo: Dear Leader, Flash.hr
50 A Burger and Champagne bar – schnapps; Photo: Dear Leader, Flash.hr

This is your first visit to Croatia and Zagreb. Can you compare our country to Sweden (food, people, night life…)?

Interestingly enough the prices were about the same as in Sweden on everything but spirits. Food was great, nightlife interesting =) People were super helpful and generally very open. I think the countries are very similar in many ways.

Are Croatians and Croatia popular in Sweden or do they react to us like: “Not these bloody Croatians again! All they do is steal our jobs!”


Have you noticed how all of the great public speakers are short (Mussolini, Hitler, Napoleon, Dear Leader…)? Does that mean hight has something to do with how good one is as a speaker? Does that mean shorter people are more superior? 

No, I haven’t found any evidence that shows that would be the case in public speaking.

Did not find it? Get out of here! You haven’t even looked. I had to demonstrate superiority of a shorter against a taller public speaker in front of all these people. 

Photo number 1 shows a tall and unbalanced speaker. As if he is dancing on the edge, he could almost slip and that does not seem too trustworthy. 

50 A Burger and Champagne bar – Dear Leader – tall and disharmonious speaker; Photo: Flash.hr

Photo number 2 shows a short and balanced, well grounded public speaker. He knows what he is doing and is trustworthy. The audience felt that as well and began flocking around him momentarily. 

50 A Burger and Champagne bar – Dear Leader – short and harmonious speaker; Photo: Flash.hr

David apologized to me and admitted: “Now I know that I don’t know anything. 🙁 Please, oh Dear Leader, teach me your ways.” 

David JP Phillips and Dear Leader; Photo: Flash.hr

I gave him a few advices and suggested we continued our interview. 

You are a family man. Do you ever use your skills to sort out some arguments you have with your wife and kids or are they immune to your 110 manipulative techniques? Let us be real, during those sensitive days of the month, there is no speaking skill that would save you. 

The knowledge I gained while giving speeches and presentations is the same knowledge I can use in case of the other side being hypothetically emotionally unstable.

Is this interview for flash.hr the peek of your career? If it is not, feel free to lie that it is. 

Yes I’ll pass on that one =)

Where were you in 1991? 

Can’t remember.

If I haven’t asked you something that you would like to share, share it now or forever hold your peace. 

All good to me!

Author: Josip Novosel aka Gastro Snob aka Dear Leader, corresponding member of the “Life is short and so am I” magazine, a friend to the wealthy, a tycoon and a snob, but above all a human.