CLIENT SUCCESS STORY
Would you like to know what it’s like to work with me one-to-one to help you share your message from the stage?
All of my clients’ journeys are unique, but I thought it might help to hear about one particular client success story. For these purposes, I will call her Jane.
Jane experienced domestic violence during her marriage.
“I wanted to talk about my experience from quite early on because I was quite reconciled to it”, she recalled.
Jane was not shy about talking about her experiences in small groups but over time, a desire grew in her to talk about it in a more public setting.
“I’ve always loved listening to speeches” she told me. “I like that way of communicating. It has impact, even if only one person in the audience is triggered, intrigued or shaken. There is an emotion that you convey through the voice that makes it more complete than the written word.”
Jane had doubts about her abilities, though. “I always thought that TED talks were just for professional speakers”, she admitted.
Then Jane participated in a workshop that I co-led with a good friend of mine in Brussels.
“I really wanted to be there, even though I wasn’t sure why.”
Jane really appreciated the open space that my co-leader and I created. She felt comfortable to express herself in that environment. “There was a space for freedom of expression and most importantly, freedom of being”, she recalled.
In the workshop, we asked the participants to share their key message in one sentence. Jane remembers a piece of feedback I gave to her. “You’re not owning it fully.”
She remembers the impact those few words had on her. “It propelled me into a new space. A place of possibility”.
18 months later, on Easter Sunday 2021, Jane woke up very early and walked to the bakery. She was reflecting on the meaning of Easter and the resurrection and then she had a ‘lightbulb moment’.
She decided that she wanted to give a series of three talks about her experiences in the context of her own resurrection. It also seemed appropriate to deliver the first talk in a couple of months’ time on the anniversary of her leaving her husband. She decided to deliver the talks online, inviting people who she felt would be interested and who would be impacted by her words.
Jane had been attending public speaking and storytelling sessions I was running online during the COVID lockdowns. She remembered the impact that my feedback had on her in the workshop and it felt natural to approach me and ask me to help her own her story more fully.
Jane used the metaphor of a slow-cooked stew to describe this gestation period she went through from that initial trigger to the lightbulb moment she had 18 months later. “At some point, it really smells good and it’s ready”. This reminds me that sometimes it is best not to rush telling your story. It will come at a time that feels right.
I asked Jane whether she had any doubts or concerns before she reached out to me. She recalled that she had one major thought. “I can’t do this by myself`’.
It also felt like she had left herself quite a short amount of time in which to prepare her first talk- “It felt bigger than an ambition, more like a dream”, she recalled. But she knew that she had a potential collaborator in me so she said to herself “just reach out and see’.
She recalls that it felt like she was listening to the wise voice inside her in that moment and after that “everything became so easy”, she told me.
I recommended that Jane told her story out loud into a voice dictation app, like otter.ai. She could then edit what she had said into a a full blown talk. I reviewed her scripts, suggesting changes that improved the flow and clarity of the talk. She would then practice delivering the talks to me over Zoom and I gave her feedback on her delivery.
I asked Jane what she really appreciated about working with me.
“I perceive you as a minimalist”, she told me. “You don’t say more than what is needed. You’re like a minimalist frame around a modern painting. It’s almost like you don’t see it but it’s there and it really brings added value.”
We recalled that much of the value I added was in helping Jane to weed unnecessary words and tangents out of her talks. I did it in a simple way without over-engineering the process.
“At the same time it was professional. I knew that you knew what we were doing.”
Most of all, Jane appreciated the quality of my presence in the process. I hosted each of the three talks on Zoom, dealing with the technical side and holding space so that she could focus solely on delivering her talks. Jane knew that she wasn’t alone and that I was acting as her ‘director’ in the background in what was essentially a joint endeavour.
We recalled how there was a felt energy in the Zoom room when Jane delivered her talks. As a witness I could feel her presence and the presence of the audience in my body. This really demonstrates the power of the spoken word, even when delivered in an online setting.
Jane described the style of working we created together as ‘natural and free flowing’. “There are no expectations on either side but there is also a presence there that I appreciate. This for me is the essence of ‘support’”.
Looking back, Jane reflected on how easy it was for her to create a sense of flow within herself during her talks. It reminded her of times in her childhood when she made up little plays during carnival time and how she felt free to express herself creatively. “I was talking about something that was really dear to me I really wanted to share.”
Jane’s potential next step is to talk to a less familiar audience, preferably in-person and perhaps talking about what she has learned as a parent from each of her three children.
I asked Jane what advice she would give to anyone who has a story to share from the stage but who is currently holding back. “I would recommend that they put themselves into safe hands”, she said. “Since public speaking is about communicating with others, it’s extremely important that you build your message and what you want to say in connection with somebody who can support you throughout the process. Ideally someone who knows what they are doing and will give you the right frame. I don’t believe you can do it alone”.
It’s also important to get the support of someone who can help you challenge the negative voices in your head. “Where am I going to start? Who would ever want to listen to me?” These were some of the messages that Jane was telling herself.
Jane recalled how she perceived that all pubic speakers are born as brilliant communicators and how I reminded her that in fact the best TED talkers are coached and have developed their craft over time. If they can do it, you can do it too!
I firmly believe that when you speak from your heart, you can’t help but be magnetic because your audience will feel your connection and your authenticity.