In September of 2012, a freak failure of the dynamic positioning system of the vessel Chris Lemons was working under, resulted in the umbilical which provides him with breathing gas, light and heat being severed completely. He was left on the sea-bed, in complete darkness 300 feet below the surface, with only the 5 minutes of breathing gas he carried in the emergency tanks on his back, and no way to protect himself from the freezing temperatures.
It took his heroic rescuers over 40 minutes to come back and fetch him, and his miraculous survival story has baffled experts ever since.
Chris’s extraordinary brush with death gave him an opportunity to contemplate his own, seemingly imminent, mortality. He is able to share how in accepting the inevitability of his own death in those final conscious minutes on the seabed, he was able to find a state of calm and reflect on what was most important in his life. The miracle of his subsequent survival has given him an acute sense of what death really means, and he is able reflect with audiences on how these insights are as important in life, as they were in death.
Who inspired you to pursue professional speaking?
Becoming a speaker has been a fairly organic thing for me, driven by demand rather than by my actively seeking to pursue it. However I was lucky enough to be invited to speak at the Titan Summit in Toronto in 2019, and watching Robin Sharma captivate his audience followed by the satisfaction I gained from performing at such a prestigious event inspired me to look to do it on a more permanent basis.
What do you like most about professional speaking?
Primarily I enjoy telling my story and passing on the important messages contained within it, particularly to new audiences and those outside my own industry. It is a story that never fails to render rooms silent and generate emotion, and so I have always enjoyed the thrill of captivating an audience like that. I love to travel too, which is often a bonus.
What do you dislike most about professional speaking?
I’m not a big fan of the nerves I sometimes feel beforehand, but over the years I’ve learnt to channel these into my performances. The potential for things out with one’s control, such as technology failures to embarrass you is not one I’m fond of either….
Why have you succeeded in a field where many have failed? (public speaking)
I’m very lucky to have a story that naturally engages people, and I speak about a subject and industry that seems to fascinate and interest people in equal measure. I’ve always tried to be open and honest on stage, and not to betray that by wrapping it up in corporate jargon. However I think mostly I have succeeded because my tale is so unique and therefore stands out amongst the myriad of speakers who don’t actually have anything to say.
Where did you grow up?
I was born in Edinburgh, Scotland but grew up mostly in Cambridge, England. I have since moved back to Scotland and live in the Highlands on the glorious West Coast.
Where did you study?
I studied at 6th form college in Cambridge, but never went to university which is an enduring source of regret for me. I trained as a diver in Scotland and then in Marseille, France.
Who is your celebrity crush?
I have eyes only for my wife……
What do you watch on TV?
I watch very little television apart from the odd documentary and the news. If the television is on in our house, it is normally switched to children’s television anyway….
How did you get started?
I started my career as a diver when a friend’s father got me a summer job on the back deck of a Dive Support Vessel for a bit of pocket money. At that point I hadn’t decided what to do with my life, but seeing the divers first hand was a bit of a lightbulb moment for me, and gave me the direction that I was missing in life, and I haven’t looked back since.
My public speaking was sparked by the accident that I was involved in back in 2012, the story of which was used as the basis for the Netflix documentary ‘Last Breath.’ Following the accident I would often go out and speak to the big Oil Companies that we work for in order to tell them the story and pass on the lessons we learnt. Since then I have received and ever increasing number of requests to speak at enormous range of industry and wider cooperate events.
What are your career goals?
I am currently training as a Saturation Diving Supervisor, so my main goal at present is to finish that and pass my exams! Beyond that I am enjoying the increasing amount of speaking I am doing, and may one day look to take that on full time.
What are your personal goals?
Mostly to achieve a good work life balance and to be the best father I can. I’m also hoping to move to France and, cliched as it is, lower my golf handicap…
What’s your favorite thing to do outside of work?
Probably spend time with my family travelling the world, and if I’m very lucky, squeeze in the occasional round of golf.
Who are your heroes? Why?
My personal hero is a writer called Christopher Hitchens, who very sadly died a few years ago. He was a magnificent orator with an incredible memory for detail, fact and literature. He was also a fearless polemicist who would voice his beliefs and opinion no matter how controversial the subject, but also liked to enjoy life – all values I aspire to.
Apart from Golf and Cycling, I love to read and walk in the sunshine.
Do you have hidden talents?
No. I have so few talents that I can’t afford to keep them hidden.
Your biggest pet peeve and why?
People pouting in photos. I just don’t get it……
If you could invite any three people in the world (alive or dead) for dinner, who would they be and why?
Christopher Hitchens, Stephen Fry and Richard Dawkins. I’d be too intimidated to join in the conversation though, so I would just stick to serving my best Crème Brulé.
There are so many to choose from my dinner party guests above, but I’d have to go with Oscar Wilde:-
“I can resist everything but temptation.”
Tell us three things about you that nobody would guess.
I’m half French and speak the language fluently.
I can run a sub 4 minute mile.
I play the piano in private, never daring to do so in public.
One of these three is made up……