I recently had the pleasure of hosting Dan Pink at a conference here in Norway. Dan is a writer for a number of august publications and made his name with the book Free Agent Nation a few years ago. His most recent book is A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the World, in which he makes the relatively simple point that because of Abundance, Asia, and Automation, all work that is explicitly defined will move to the place in the world where it can be done the cheapest. This means that competition (be it in products or services) will take place less on price (utility) and more on significance, i.e., design and emotion.
I tend to be very sceptical about professional speakers, partly because I am Norwegian (and thus a member of the most cynical group of people in the world,) and partly because 10 years on the rubber chicken circuit has given me a severe allergy to gurus giving canned speeches.
Dan turned out not only to be very solid in his analysis, but also very attuned to his audience. My job was to lead a discussion on how his ideas related to a Norwegian, as opposed to American, reality. The discussion was not necessary, because Dan and I had a couple of conversations beforehand and he took the trouble to not only read the stuff about Norway I sent him, but very carefully tailor his talk so that language and examples related to something the audience knew.
Well done, and a lesson for any speaker, no matter nationality and place. The test of your mettle is not how polished your message is, but how it is received and understood by the audience. I wish more speakers would understand this (including, incidentally, myself.)