The Coaches’ Coach

My normal client is the person or team that wants to up their game in their critical thinking, storytelling and/or presentation skills.  Last week I switched hats and became a coach to the coaches.

A group of curators from TEDx programs in San Diego and Jackson Hole asked me for some help in how they should coach their speakers.   So I put together my thoughts, we fired up a webinar and I woke up from an early evening nap to join in the group at 9pm (my time!).  I was supposed to be teaching them tips, but instead, I learned a few things too.  Here are three worth sharing:

A.   When coming up with an idea to discuss, always challenge yourself to think bigger.  San Diego had a speaker who was a “Horse Whisperer” but her real idea was about how we listen to and respond to things in nature.  The assigned coach struggled with the “so what” when discussing the Horse idea, but got to a “aha” when we moved it one level higher.

B.    Don’t assume your speakers will understand the basic tools of a great talk (besides their big idea).  Included but not limited to:  the opening hook, making the audience the central character of the story, give them the bottom line first and create visuals with WORDS first and then resonate them further with images.  If someone hasn’t ever given a talk before, these tools will help anchor the beginning of a great framework.

C.   And lastly, you can make a good speaker out of a great idea.  But you cannot go the other way.  As we were talking, I was reminded that it’s really okay if a speaker’s style does not outshine their idea.  But even a bad idea cannot be saved by a great speaker.  (And in the case of a TEDx organizer, it is a big hairy sign to not extend the invite to speak).

I’m happy to send the webinar recording to anyone that would like to see it.  Just email me at Ruth (at)