He came early to the interview, impeccably dressed. We talked for over an hour. António Paraíso is a specialist in luxury brands, in international trade, and is frequently invited as a speaker for events in Portugal and abroad, where he discusses over these and other themes, always aiming at inspiring people.
He is often asked to talk about emotional marketing. How do you turn a sale into a memorable customer experience? "My goal is mainly to inspire people, make them cry and laugh, or at least have a sparkle in their eyes. And there's a lot you can do to boost a business." It is also common that Lexus or BNP Paribas invite him for a private event, just for special clients or top employees, to talk about innovation or how markets can evolve, identifying trends in the luxury segment, but not just there.
He loves reading, learning, and every year, to keep up to date, he attends the best New York, Madrid, Paris, or London conferences in the business. "Every year, Financial Times organises a conference on luxury for 400 people from all over the world, and I am one of those people. There are representatives of Vuitton, Gucci and American Express to discuss the latest trends and strategies of luxury brands. And I go there to drink it all, to bring inspiration to my clients,” António Paraíso describes.
Paraíso confesses to being careful with his voice. He trains in front of the mirror, and sometimes things do not come out at first: "António, you have to whisper; raise your voice; transmit more determination..." And he works his body expressions. "I jump into the middle of the audience and speak eye to eye with those who are watching. I use my hands a lot, I crouch." It's a time consuming process.
But first he lies down on the couch thinking. "I enjoy thinking. Find the common thread. I go on stage and start telling a story, do I show a video, a song? I've done all this. At a conference in Singapore, when they announced my name, the lights dimmed, and for three minutes an opera aria was heard ‑ a shivering thing. And when it ended, a beam of light ripped through the darkness, and I appeared. In a theatre, I already entered through the audience, the central row, leaving the stage empty. Only my voice was heard in the beginning, and the stage was still empty... After finding that thread, I have to build around it: for this script, I need this video. If I already know it, l get it right away, otherwise I spend hours on Google, on Youtube, looking for the right video." He watches tons of videos. And that's how he build his presentation.
"Then I also think about my life experiences, those which intersect with the topic in question. I have lots of funny stories, I was even arrested in Copenhagen, by mistake, because they confused me with a Moroccan smuggler. After having the complete presentation, I repeat it at least twice at home." "I take this very seriously, and my lectures are never the same. There are people who come up to me and say, "I've watched you two or three times, and you always surprise me."
He speaks fluent Portuguese, English and Spanish, although he also speaks German and French. "I lived and studied in London and Madrid, and that helped. Because it's not just a matter of pronunciation: I say things as they say, which is an advantage."
The biggest panic in his speaker life happened a few years ago, four or five, when he was not so experienced. But in spite of everything it turned out well. He went to a very well known store chain in Portugal at an event in December that brought together the owners, the administrators and all the main people in charge during a weekend in a hotel. "It took me days to prepare my presentation, very carefully ‑ I obsess with details. It was spectacular! I packed all the luggage for the trip, I left home, I travelled 300 kilometres, and when I arrived, I started to get everything out of the car, and I realise I did not bring the computer. I could not go back, it was only two hours before my presentation." For ten minutes he really panicked. "I went up to my room, and decided to improvise. The fact that I spent so much time in the presentation allowed me to recover the ideas I wanted to convey. Gradually I wrote down the key ideas that were on those slides. The music and the videos were lost, I had to give more of myself, in a super impactant speech. I was more theatrical, to engage people, to make them laugh, I shared more dramatic episodes, leaving some with tears in their eyes. I know how to manage the audience's emotions... But those 10 minutes when I was panicking were very difficult, the most difficult ever."
And where did you feel most emotional in a conference? "In Singapore," he answered without hesitation. "Even today I pinch myself: how did I get to give a talk in Singapore?! I often tell this story to inspire others. All my communication, my presence on social networks, presentations, videos, everything is managed by me, so that it can be found. It is a continuous, demanding work. One day, about four years ago, I got an email from Procter & Gamble explaining that they liked what they knew about me, and that they wanted me to give a talk in Singapore to 300 Asia Pacific directors on how to seduce the luxury consumer, aiming at the millionaires who live in that region of the globe. They wanted to know the conditions, all of it. I remember I even considered it was a joke from some friend. I did not reply. After two or three days, they insisted, saying that they really needed to know if I was available because otherwise they had to find another speaker. And only then did I realise that it was true. In short, we had two conference calls, and we settled my trip to Singapore."
"But the most exciting place, and I must have been the first speaker there, was architect Manuel Vieira's project, called Casa em Movimento (House on the Move). A project with about 60 seats, which is the prototype of a house that is based on a hydraulic system, which turns, like a sunflower, accompanying the movement of the sun. And I think I was the first speaker to talk to architects in a moving house. Throughout the morning the house was rolling slowly, altering the scenery we could observe from the window. And that's why this was the most amazing place I've ever spoken."
He confesses to have a very ambitious goal, which is to work in the luxury hotel industry abroad. "And because I am very persistent, I would like to give a great lecture, in a big brand event, in a big hotel chain, in an international event, about the ideas I have for this sector. And one day I will give this lecture," António Paraíso assures.