You have less than two minutes to tell the story about your life’s work in front of a crowd of world leaders, power brokers, and celebrities. To fail might mean not getting the funding you need for your organization or missing out on the relationship-building this opportunity affords.
The organizers of a global initiative realized what a tall order that is for its speakers and wanted to do what they could to help them shine. They acknowledged that the speakers were chosen for their ability to deliver impact in the world, not on their public speaking skills and so asked us to help prepare them before the Annual Meeting.
How We Did It
We couldn’t afford any of the assumptions of traditional speaker coaching (read: we didn’t have a lot of time). So we brought out our ninja skills to deliver a whole lot of impact in a very short time.
During four consecutive 12-hour days, we coached participants one-on-one and in small groups. Each day we received the speech, met the coachee, established rapport, coached, and then sent them running for the stage.
A head of state, a CEO of an investment fund, and a small rural farmer may all need our help but that help may look dramatically different and their needs may vary considerably. Establishing trust in such a truncated period was crucial. We focused on being flexible and highly responsive, but more importantly, we engaged in deep listening. With a diversity of speakers, we needed to be aware of the most nuanced, moment-to-moment shifts and identify the social and diplomatic dynamics at play.
So… did anyone fall on their face? Thankfully not. The speakers were able to make important connections and some audience members indicated interest in funding their projects. And they attributed the results to our coaching — they were able to speak with presence, clarity, conviction, and thrive in the high-pressure environment.
Many of the speakers came to us in an excited rush asking “Did you see me? I did it!” — they were so proud of themselves.