Situation: Lobbyist for prominent nonprofit. Experienced. Smart. Personable. Feeling tongue-tied and long-winded in front of groups.
Engagement Objective: To harness her experience, knowledge of issues, and noble intentions into articulate presentations of her ideas and proposals.
Coaching Relationship: It did not take long to figure out that where she got hamstrung was in her openings. Getting started was her challenge. Through my own on-site observations and with the benefit of feedback provided by her colleagues, I quickly learned that when she got off to a good start, it went well and she made her point; if she rambled or meandered from the start, it went awry and the audience was lost. This was an easy challenge to address. We worked on her openings. Openings for general updates she needed to deliver, openings for an ask she needed to make, openings for welcome or introductory remarks. We sorted the various elements that go into openings and shaped them into modular formats that she could easily picture in her mind. Then she practiced, with me and on the job. She would often come to a coaching session and relay exactly what she had done right or wrong in specific situations. I eventually got to sit back and watch her coach herself!
Result: Even when she gets called on to speak on the spot, with less than a minute to prepare, her mind goes immediately to the key elements of her opening. Have the ability to formulate strong, focused openings has not only made her presentations more impactful, but it has also bolstered her confidence.