“Would you like to visit Cameroon?” As Oliver asks me the question, I am surprised. Instinctively, I reply “Yes!” From a purely rational point of view, I am not so sure yet. There are so many things standing against traveling to Cameroon right now. But my endless curiosity and the geographer in me instantly know I want to do this!

It starts with a tire change at the airport in Frankfurt. So, I land with twelve hours delay on July 3rd early in the morning in Yaoundé. However, without luggage. Brussels Airlines has missed to rebook it on the replacement flight …

Anyway, my colleague Oliver Nshom and his friend and assistant Bertrand Beco pick me up – and off goes the exciting journey in Cameroon! While the first day is rather relaxed with a visit to an animal and amusement park, the next day starts right away by meeting a startup founder: Fai Timothy, techpreneur and CEO at Sparkafrik in Yaoundé, has already built up a well-running brand in online retail at a young age.


Presentation Coaching for young People

We continue with the first of four coaching sessions for students between the ages of four (!) and 19. This is a new experience, since up to now university students have been among the youngest people I have trained and coached. The youngest are naturally only attentive for a short time and even sleep in between, others are still intimidated because they are sent by their parents and seem to have other interests. The older youngsters are particularly motivated and very active.


Speeches and Trainings for Future Speakers

However, my focus is clearly on my speeches and training sessions for the African Inclusive Institute of Public Speaking (AIIPS). Together with Oliver I perform seven times on different stages in Yaoundé, Douala, Bamenda and Buea. I have known Oliver just since March. We meet on Zoom during his online presentation for the Virtual Speakers Association International (VSAI). After getting to know each other briefly, we start online speech training for adults within just a few days. The idea quickly arises to visit Oliver in Cameroon.

During my speeches, I talk about failure and success in life – including my own experiences, and how this is closely connected to the development of self-confidence and improved presentation skills. It seems that many others in the audience have gone through a similar journey. They nowadays face careers in which they need to deliver convincing speeches in front of other people. Some of them are also on their way to becoming professional speakers.


My trainings are about the fundamentals of rhetoric such as the rhetorical triangle with logos – ethos – pathos, storytelling techniques and how to spontaneously incorporate them into a two-minute PechaKucha speech. Because I just love interaction, we can listen to some very creative stories and some more serious stories from the audience.

In Douala, I deliver a keynote speech before all qualified participants receive their final certificate. Among other activities, they have delivered and evolved their presentations during the two-month online training with Oliver and me. They have improved gradually, but noticeably within just this short period of time, and now qualify as professional speakers of the Cameroon National Speakers Association (CANASA). Just as fine and special for me personally is meeting one of my LinkedIn contacts, Nakentoh Kenneth, in person for the first time. We have a lot to talk about and the time until we say goodbye flies by much too fast. I am already looking forward to another reunion.


TV Live Interviews: Can we start a Business on Speaking?

The next highlight are the three live interviews for various TV stations in Cameroon. The first one is right after the first performance in Yaoundé. This is followed by two interviews in the TV studios in Yaoundé and Douala: Why are presentation skills so important nowadays? How would I compare Africa and Europe regarding public and professional speaking? Can we really run a financially sustainable business as professional trainers, coaches, and speakers? How do I like Cameroon? Will I come back? These and many more questions are not only addressed to Oliver and me, but also to Ada Mbionyi and Beco Bertrand, who at the time of the interview are still about to receive their certification as professional speakers. In the link starting at 1:08:45 hours you can see the full interview.

Toastmasters Club Launch in Bamenda

From Douala we continue by night bus to Bamenda, three nights later by yet another night bus from Bamenda to Buea. The overland journeys are among the particularly restless nights, during which I accumulate plenty of sleep deficit. On the way, we drive over many road bumps and some eroded surfaces exposed by intense rains, which is why the ride sometimes seems quite adventurous (and yet always safe). It is the preachers, who seem like market criers, praying for safe rides – I already had very similar experiences in Ecuador in 1998. It is also the sometimes completely loud music: All this leads to the fact that I get very little sleep at night.

In Bamenda, the capital of the Northwest Region in Cameroon, there is the next workshop in the afternoon. After a day of rest – I really need this one – we found the first Toastmasters club in Bamenda. As a club mentor and “Bantek” (chief) I promise to support the club after its foundation. In the foreseeable future, there will even be a joint online meeting with my home club in Germany, the Bonn International Toastmasters.


After another overland bus ride and yet another severe sleep deficit, the next training session is already scheduled for the following morning: At the foot of Mount Cameroon in Buea, the program has long since started when we arrive. Completely without the usual technical preparation and tuning, I improvise my performance. After all, some of the participants here present PechaKucha slides on PowerPoint impromptu – and they really do well!

Presentation Training at the University of Yaoundé

Even on my last day, just six hours before my flight back to Frankfurt, Oliver and I deliver one more presentation training, this time at the University of Yaoundé. Finally, I meet a former PhD student from my home university in Bonn, who returned to Cameroon many years ago.


A great, intense time comes to an end. In Cameroon, I practice my credo and one of my most frequent appeals to all those who embrace personal development: “Get out of your comfort zone!” In Cameroon, my stage time is the ultimate comfort zone that I know. Yet, until I graduated, it was the exact opposite: standing on stages and speaking in front of other people was, for a long time, the biggest step out of my comfort zone for me. Today, it is the restlessness surrounding circumstances that takes me far out of my comfort zone.

Was the trip worth it? Absolutely yes! Will I travel to Cameroon again? It is quite possible! There was a total of 13 events with about 200 audience members altogether: Five trainings with embedded talks, two keynote speeches, three coaching sessions and three live interviews. From my trip, I bring back eleven days of new life experience in Cameroon. And yes: I will continue to co-lead online trainings for better speaking with Oliver and on behalf of the African Inclusive Institute of Public Speaking, the AIIPS. At the same time, I am already looking forward ‘s return visit to Germany.

You want to listen to a podcast summary of this blog? Here you go!

This post is also available in: German

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