In Art Of Coaching Podcast, Podcasts

If there was anything you could talk about for hours on end, what would it be?  Maybe it’s a hobby, your work, the people you care about, or your favorite memories – it could be anything!

Now imagine if someone told you they wanted you to speak on that topic, but they only give you 45 minutes to do so.  They also don’t tell you anything about who you’re speaking to (outside of maybe their profession or field), or give any more specific clarification on the goal of the presentation.

How would you whittle that down?  How would you know which information to include and what to leave out?

As someone who’s been speaking for over a decade, I can honestly tell you that this circumstance happens more often than you might think. That’s why today’s quick hitter – the first of a series on public speaking – covers some baseline principles, tips and strategies on how to handle this situation or others like it, specifically:

  • How to increase the clarity and specificity of your topic (2:55)
  • Which research is necessary for an effective presentation (7:00)
  • Two easy-to-remember guidelines to help you prioritize information (17:10)
  • A straight-forward list of questions to ask yourself to ensure you get your message across and make the impact you want on your audience (19:45)

Referenced Resources:

Speaker School This live 2 day experience not only gives you the knowledge you need to create a logical and clear presentation, but provides you with a safe environment to fail, one filled with people who want you to succeed, and are there to give you the feedback and encouragement you need to take steps forward.  Join us in BEAUTIFUL Phoenix, AZ on November 4th & 5th.  There are only a few spots left, so secure your spot today!

1:1 MentoringIf you’re looking for the reps, practice, and feedback we offer at Speaker School, but you can’t make the live event, no sweat! Submit this form today to learn more about our for 1:1 mentoring.  We work with growth minded individuals like you who are looking for accountability, feedback, or guidance as you strive to take steps toward your goals.  To find out more about our areas of expertise, simply submit the form above for a free discovery call, or reach out to us directly at


Brett Bartholomew  0:11  

Welcome to the Art of coaching Podcast. I’m Brett Bartholomew, and at a young age poor communication nearly cost me my life. Now, I help others navigate the gray area of social interaction, power dynamics and communication, so they can become more adaptable leaders regardless of their profession, age or situation. This podcast is for everybody who is fascinated with solving people problems. So if you’re in the no nonsense type who appreciates frank conversations, advice you can put to use immediately and learning how others navigate the messy realities of leadership. You’re in the right place. I’m glad that you’re joining us. Let’s dive in.


Hey, everyone, welcome back. This is part one of our speaker school series. Now to orient you, twice a year, we run what is called our speaker school program. And it is a way for those of you who want to make a bigger impact. You want to share your perspective, your voice, your skills, your knowledge, all those things with other people. But you also want more feedback, whether it’s refining your storytelling abilities, being able to really find your voice, your conversational style, anything like that, that allows you to reach more people in an authentic and relatable way. It was something that I hadn’t thought about doing, ever, until people kept asking for it again and again. And again, traditional case of imposter phenomenon. Even though I’ve spoken for more than 10 years now around the world, you just always tend to underplay your own value, but we did it. It’s really cool. It’s very intimate. We don’t ever allow more than 10 people. And we want to give you a little insight. So we decided that we’re not going to be able to give you everything in speaker school, by the way. The next one is November 4 And 5 of this year. So make sure you go to There’s early bird discount student discounts all of that. So go there now. But we wanted to give you some insights, some things that give you a sample of what we’re going to cover there. And hopefully, most importantly, give you some value. 


So there was a lot of places we could start here, we took a poll, one of the most common topics that we had requested was, hey, how much content is enough? There’s a lot of subject matter experts out there and passionate people, how much content is enough. So I’m going to give you some principles, we’re just going to talk as human beings here, I’m gonna give you some principles to think about, then I’m going to give you some tips and strategies all share some pieces, man, and this is critical. Alright, so let’s get into this just above the fold principles. When I was asked this in a q&a, hey, how much content is enough? I said, well, in a way, you’re kind of asking the wrong question. What I’ve learned is it’s not so much how much content is enough? And yes, that is a valid question. But it’s more so what is the story you’re trying to tell? Right? Let’s just focus on this for a minute. At the time of this recording will have just gotten done doing a large speaking event, they wanted very specific things. But one of the questions I always ask them is, hey, what’s the primary antagonist? What’s the through line here for this audience? What are they needing to hear, and they’re not always going to know this, your host isn’t always going to know this. Or if you’re running your own event, you’re not always going to know this. But you are going to have to know that you’re going to wrap what you’re talking about in some kind of narrative. Bottom line. Like imagine if I just got on stage and started talking about the importance of understanding human nature, in strategic communication boring? No, what you want to hear about is a story where somebody who is trying to do something impactful, failed miserably, because they didn’t overcome certain headwinds. Or you want to be able to go in and have some kind of story that is going to speak to some of the objections or preconceived notions the audience is going to have, or just something to grab their attention. And it doesn’t have to actually be a story. It’s just like, What are you trying to impart on these individuals? What is the big message here, right. And so that is something you want to think about, then, of course, you need to understand the needs of your audience or wants. Sometimes this is very easy. You can even send out a pre event survey. Other times we have to get on the phone with hosts. Other times, I’m just invited to speak, you know, at one of those conferences, where there’s like 30 speakers, these are my least favorite. Then there’s 45 to 60 minutes that you got, and it’s just one person after the other. I’m not saying they’re my least favorite, because I think I’m too cool for them. I’m saying it because I really want people to learn things. And I don’t think the setup of those kinds of events is really conducive to learning. But in those situations, the needs and wants of the audience are going to be so divergent. Many audiences want everything they want you to tell every story I remember. One thing that contributed to me being a worst speaker at one point, of  my career was all this noise in my head, because I would get up on stage. And people would inevitably want me to talk about stuff in my first book, stuff that at Advanced since that book, they wanted me to cover almost everything in 60 minutes. And I tried to do that I felt like I would fail if I didn’t. And of course, it was just ridiculous. So, you know, finding the needs and wants of your audience is tough. But that’s one thing that you need to consider too. And we’ll get more tactical, I’m just giving you some principles. So what is the story you’re trying to tell? Or the narrative you’re wrapping it in? What are the needs of your audience and their wants? And here’s one of the most important pieces as well, what do you actually think they’re going to be able to execute on? What do you actually think they’re going to be able to execute on, because there’s this rate of diminishing returns. And so often you as a presenter, it happens to all of us, when I’m talking to you, I’m talking to me, we’re all in this, you can tend to undervalue your knowledge, Curse of Knowledge, whatever, you want to make sure that people are being left with some kind of take home, you have your adrenaline going. So you’ll just tend to get up there and educate and educate. And also, you rarely will get feedback. In some circumstances, the audience will just be an intake mode. So if you’re not a practice speaker, you’ll start to read too much into that. So there’s audiences that are going to have different experience levels with the material maturity, their own creativity, there’s some times I’ve gone and spoken, and people just Intuit stuff, and they bring some really good things that the conversation at the end. And I’ve also spoken places where literally somebody said, Well, I do this and this for a living, how am I supposed to apply all of that. And they really wanted like an after action plan, just for them, despite the fact that I was speaking to a room that had more than 30 different professions represented. Right? So let’s say you’re just speaking to, you know, industry specialists close to you. Okay, then you have to discern that. And so one of my main tips of knowing how much content is too much, and whatever, is you need to create a system that asks them questions, you get invited to speak, great. Take the time to meet with oh, say, I want to give you a really great experience. I’d love to just ask you some questions about the audience. I’d love to ask you some questions about what they have and haven’t liked in the past about speakers. Yeah, is there a way for me to get hands on with them? There’s tons of questions. And if you reach out to us, we can guide you here. These are the things that we go over in speaker school. But sometimes, you’re just asking the wrong question. Another thing to consider is, you need to be very clear about what your job is. This is something that I didn’t learn, until I don’t want to say too late, but I didn’t, it took me too long to learn. As I mentioned earlier, oftentimes, when I was contracted to speak, I felt like I was under pressure to almost teach them everything I knew. And I realized, no, that’s not my job, my job. And your job is to stimulate thought, your job is to stimulate thought you shouldn’t go there and try to prove something, and be the expert that’ll come out, Pardon the language. If you have kids in the car, I’ll give you a moment. But as I’ve said before, one of the best pieces of advice I got is excellence is self evident, and so is bullshit. So by all means, make your points and make them well. But if you try to overdo it, that becomes, you know, pretty self evident, you’re trying to prove something and you might just be nervous. So with that in mind being clear about what your job is, are you really asking the right question? Are you wrapping this in a narrative, let’s go into some other pieces. Okay. 


Another core principle is start with too much then cut back, when we ran any of our workshops, whether it’s our business skills, workshop, brandbuilders, Speaker school, all of these are evolving. And I started with so much material, and then I’d run it or I’d give that presentation. And I didn’t like this. And I’d like that. And I’d wait until I kind of gave that talk two or three times to really start to discern it, then I’d modify. But I always at the end of my slide decks, keep an abundance of extra slides. And you just never know where the conversations gonna go. And this depends on how comfortable you are with breaking kind of that. What is it the third wall or the fourth wall, so to speak, I’ll go full Deadpool, where if I get to a q&a, and somebody’s like, well, you know, I have a question about this. Chances are I have a slide. And I don’t mind just going in there. Even if my stuff’s up on the projector, I’ll throw it up. And I’ll say, alright, let’s talk about that. But the point is, just like a rough draft of a book, just put everything you want to talk about or you want to say out there. And maybe you do this in a Google Drive doc or like in a Google Doc or Microsoft Word, and then take a pass and be like, okay, based on what I know about my audience, based on what I know about this event, based on what I know about other speakers wants needs experience level. What should I cut out? I think there’s some people that will get real cute and say, you know, it’s a quote by Michelangelo, trim away everything that is not David, I could say trim away everything. That is not the core points you want to make, that’s fine, you could do that. But I just say trim away a third, whatever you have, trim away a third, because you’re not gonna have enough time. Even if you think you do, you’re gonna tell a story, you’re gonna have an anecdote, something’s not going to happen. And there’s plenty of time, man, I remember one time I was speaking back in my home state of Nebraska, I was supposed to have an hour, I got cut off at 30 minutes, because there was some issue in the building. And so just plan on something ridiculous. Like that happening. A lot of times that stuff will. But if you just trim a third, and then you start going back, you’d be like, Okay, I have something here, I have something that I can go and I can really expand upon that core message. That’s another question I’d ask you. Because we’re gonna answer this question for you by just kind of doing, you know, some reflection points. Do you know what your core message is, and they can have multiple points, I have to go speak for a group of Strength and Conditioning professionals soon, that is such a different message than when I speak to firefighters or tech professionals or members of the military. And I’ll tell you how there are still people in the strength and conditioning community that need to be convinced that things like power dynamics, and communication and psychology of behavior change, need to be emphasized, need to be emphasized, there are so way too many people in that profession that just want to go down nonstop rabbit holes of training, because it’s in their comfort zone. They want to be told well, why? What is the objective evidence that I should need to cover this, when we go speak at a military base, and we’re going to soon, they’re like, Yeah, you don’t need to get into any of that. And then none of our people need to be convinced in the value of communication, we just need strategies of dealing with the bureaucracy that we have some of the personalities that we’re dealing with, and some inner unit stuff. So get into that, right. And that’s what I mean by crafting the narrative, and then the core message. So you have to think, and your core message can be wrapped up in those objections, part of my core message will be like, hey, as far as actually making a difference, as a coach or a leader goes, so goes, your ability to communicate know how people think, another part of that core message is, this is way more complex than you think humans are messy, little animals, they’re messy, little animals, they’re always going to hide their true intentions, they are going to, you know, it’s nonstop conflict half the time. And so even if you think you are a good communicator, and I’m sure you are, there’s likely some areas you still need to grow. Because the amount of conflict you’re going to have in life, especially as you grow as a leader are going to just continue and amplify and change. And then, you know, one of the other core messages at the end for that audience is just like, listen, at the end of the day, if you’re not convinced by anything that I said, if you’re essentially just not convinced that communication is important, you should at least acknowledge it. Everybody needs a coach, and nobody’s perfect at any skill, let alone ones related to how we interact with one another. 


So just ask yourself, if you think all this is hogwash, do you have a growth mindset? Right? So there are some core points within that, that all kind of interweave within the same narrative. And, I that’s what I want you to consider, even before you gather your content, just what are the 1 2 3 4 things that all overlap that you want your audience to walk away with? That you’re guiding star, but with this military presentation, this is almost all about power, dynamics and influence. So I want them to be able to understand these tactics to get practice utilizing them. And to be able to do that literally, in the moment when we break them up, you know, 180 plus people role playing. So there’s some pieces there. I’ll come back to some other elements here in a minute. 


Now, early on when I talked about, understand your audience, just giving you a wide variety of things, because I can’t answer every individual use surveys, interviews, past experiences, I always recommend giving beta versions of your talks. There’s some times where I’ve made things into podcast, I see how people react to it. Right? You can kind of put these things out there. I noticed what tweets around a certain theme got a lot of conversation around them. So you can look at that as well.


Hey, Brett here, if you didn’t catch it at the beginning, we are running our final speaker school workshop this year in November. Now, every year we run our speaker school on our business development workshops. And every year there are inevitably some folks that are like, Oh, maybe next year, maybe next year, and then next year comes and we all get busy. Please don’t make this mistake. Stronger business skills and better speaking skills transfer in a positive way to every area of our life. It amplifies your technical skill set. We offer these opportunities because these are things we are not often taught in school. It doesn’t matter from a business standpoint, whether you’re just getting started or you have a staff of 39 people. And when it comes to our speaker school, it does not matter if you have spoken a million times or you suffer from social anxiety, what we provide our hands on opportunity Are these interactive opportunities, opportunities for you to get one to one coaching, peer feedback, and a lot of time to just think and refine. So please go to Now, we have early bird discounts, military discount student discounts, but I can tell you one thing, we do not discount our effort to you, or for you in any way whatsoever. Get there, check it out Now 


I always recommend giving beta versions of your talks, there’s some times where I’ve made things into podcast, I see how people react to it. Right? You can kind of put these things out there, I noticed what tweets around a certain theme got a lot of conversation around them. So you can look at that as well. Of course, you need to look at your time budget. I mentioned that earlier. That was my whole cut it into third. If you have 60 minutes, you know, you’re gonna have to think, Alright, is my content here able to get me through 45? And then let’s account for 15 minutes of, you know, whatever improvising you do, or ad hoc stuff, or if there’s questions, there’s sometimes too and this just depends on the the clout you have. And with that individual, that event, sometimes I’m asked to speak on something and they’ll be like, we’ll give you 45 minutes. And I’ll say, Hey, I respect that. But with what you’ve asked me to speak on, and how you’ve described this audience, this audience being a group that isn’t that familiar with these topics, that presentations only going to be able to be done well, and about 90 at best 75. So it’s also okay to set some boundaries. It is a you know, it’s just, if somebody’s telling you, they want everything under the moon, but their audience is a bunch of novices and they don’t know that stuff. Well, pretty clear cut, you’re not going to be able to do that, don’t put yourself in an impossible situation, I would say at the same time, challenge yourself to make, that big presentation, like you’re guilty, this is everything I want to say, then make a step back from that, then make a step back from that. So I have like a lite l i t e version, a moderate version. And then like this is for the nerds version. And it shouldn’t be that tough, because you’ll cut some of those things out. But just remember, the curse of knowledge is always going to be there within understanding your audience and the time budget, all those pieces, right, and you want to emphasize depth over breadth anyway. So if you look at this, go into a few topics and skim the surface. You can also another strategy I utilizes, because there’s so much in psychology and behavior change and communication and power dynamics, I would have five presentations that built off themselves. And so again, if somebody reaches out to me to speak, I’ll say, hey, here are some options that are in that wheelhouse. What would you like out of these, right? And we’ll kind of have a conversation about that. And then if you have that, like you can leave people wanting more. That’s another thing that I think most people miss out on, is, as I said earlier, as a presenter, your job isn’t to solve everybody’s problems for them. The people that mumble in the crowd, or this person didn’t do this, a lot of them have never been on stage. They it’s easy to criticize, right? We know the man in the arena, dogs bark at what they don’t understand. All that’s pretty straightforward. But you know, it’s not your job to spoon feed them, it’s your job to educate them, make them engage in some kind of reflection and inquiry, and then leave them wanting a little bit more always leave them wanting a little bit more. that is any true master of their craft, or anybody that desires to be a master of their craft should want to reach out and say, Hey, Garrett, that was a great conversation, you left me with so many questions can we connect later. And that’s something that you’ve just got to get comfortable with, you’ve got to get comfortable with it, especially if you are a people pleaser. Because if you don’t, you’re not going to have that depth over breadth, you’re going to really struggle with those practical takeaways, you’re going to struggle with engagement, any of those pieces. Okay? So have that idea. You can try to do different iterations of it. But you should still always think what I want them to think, feel and do after this. Okay, I want them to think blank. I want them to feel but I like it when my audience is feel convicted, and challenge and a little bit uncomfortable. meaning they’ve had to ask themselves some really critical questions. And what do I want them to do? I want them to dive deeper. I hope they dive deeper with us. But if they don’t, I just want them to dive deeper in general. And that in it of itself is a piece because otherwise you overwhelm them. You know what you’re gonna get an audience that has no clue you’re gonna get to the end. Anybody have any questions? Well, there’s so processing, how they don’t have questions. And if they do, they don’t know what they are yet. Right? They’re still thinking it’s better to ask them. Hey, is there anything in particular, I made too confusing, that is always gonna get a lot more engagement.


Now, if you’re in a big audience, you’re still not going to get many people that raise their hand because nobody wants to look like a dummy even though they Look, the exact opposite of a dummy if they asked that, right, so just manage your expectations there. But so far, you should be thinking, hey, what’s the message I want to convey? How can I best serve my audience in the time allotted? How can I get out of my own way? What is the bare minimum I want to get across? What’s the opposite of that? If I went off the rails, what would this look like, find that balance. But most people just struggle. And it’s totally normal. Most people struggle figuring out their big idea. Because you just haven’t given that talk enough yet. So you need to give yourself permission to give that talk, let it suck, and go. That’s why at our speaker school, you give at least five five minute presentations. And you get feedback, feedback, feedback, every single time you give a presentation, we give you a feedback form, then you go back to the lab, meaning you go back to your table, you work on that, later on in the day, you’ll give it again, you’ll give it again, and you’ll give it again. And that’s the thing that I don’t think I’m trying to figure out how I want to phrase this. Because I know no matter how I phrases, how it comes off, listen, you’re gonna have to practice that thing. That’s why we created speaker school. That’s why you should practice for me, I could never really practice in front of a mirror, I’d rather practice in front of people, because then those raw emotions come out. So it’s gonna be hard for some of you to get your big idea until you actually come practice that. Otherwise, you’re going to risk kind of just blowing it up on stage, which is fine, that’s going to happen. And for some of you that needs to happen. And I know, I know, nobody has the time and the money and family and work I get it. But you’ve just got to figure out what that’s worth to. You do? I mean, at the end of the day, you’ve got to decide, do I want to get clarity here? And am I willing to invest in getting heads down time and hands on guidance, right? That’s how you’re going to be able to see if your content is really aligned with your audience’s needs. And the time you have one of the core questions we and have everybody fill out on our evaluation. Say you’ve came and you’ve delivered, you know, a practice talk and micro version. A what do you think their core message was? What call to actions you walk away with? How did their message come across to you and we kind of give everybody a word bank. And it’s really helpful if you get that feedback. You know, there’s a woman named Jennifer. And she was like, I wanted to come off. I know I can be a really unique personality, I want to come off as welcoming and inviting. And I wanted this to be intriguing. Well, a lot of people in the room said, You were definitely inviting. But it was hard to follow you. You know so much about this, I couldn’t keep up. And I just kind of felt confused. And that was a clear example, she’s not going to get any better until she can actually interact with those people and say, Okay, well, what was it? And, and then go back to the lab. Because it’s a double edged sword. If you do this with your audiences, I had audience feedback. One time, I was like, What could I have done to be a better speaker? Somebody goes follow Jesus. I was like, what? Like, wait, what, you know, how does it and that we’ve gotten that answer for a lot of different things. One, it was, I thought this was gonna be all about your book. Okay, but that wasn’t the title. Or another one was I thought you’re gonna talk about training stuff. title was literally power dynamics and leadership, why would you think that I was going to talk about that. That’s what I mean, your audience is going to have so many different expectations. And so it’s just better to kind of really get out in front of those things. Okay, I know some of this can be nerve racking, it doesn’t need to be nerve racking, believe me, you’d rather have me asking you these questions. And kind of, you know, giving you this information this way than figuring it out on your own. Nobody. helped me with this. And when there was, if there was anything like, Speaker school, in the past, it was usually like, tucking your shirt, you know, do your hair. Folks, I love you. But if I gotta tell you to look nice, I don’t really care if you tuck in your shirt depends on what you wear. But if I gotta tell you to just dress professionally, and, you know, think about your appearance, we got to start a whole we got to start at square one, right? Those things are huge. I just want you to realize that what you know, even if you think that you are out of your gourd, and you don’t know as much as you want what you know, your audience knows, like a 10th of it. Because they’re busy in their own life. Right there. They are completely busy in their own life, with all these other pieces and all the things that they worry about. 


So if you walked away with this at all, you know, you just need to think, okay, there’s two ways I can really go about this. There’s people that over prepare, they try to cram as much information as possible. There’s people that under prepare some lack content, they haven’t really developed it. How do I avoid the evils with either one of those will go back to what I told you the beginning, not about how much content is enough? What’s the story you’re trying to tell? What do you want them to think, feel and do? What are the needs and wants of your audience? What are their unrealistic expectations? What do you think they’re actually going to be able to execute on? This should give you more than enough to edit and get started. Now if you’re still worried about well I know my idea, even more of a reason for you to come to Speaker school, let us help you. Let us help you, it’s normal to be overwhelmed. If you can’t do that we have one to one mentoring, we’d love to help just go to We can’t help if you don’t make the time. Okay? And if you don’t have time for these kinds of things, that is exactly why you need it, to learn how to be able to scale your impact. So you’re not just always running this rat race. Okay, because your perspective, you have to look at it this way. I know this is challenging. It is selfish for you not to share your perspective. If you keep making excuses, oh, now’s not a good time. Now, think about if you just spoke to 10 people, three times a year, right? Do the math. And then those people shared even one or two of your strategies with 10 more people. I mean, this spreads like a virus. And you owe it to yourself to share that perspective. And you need that you need to just be real humility aside. Any of you listening, have enough knowledge that even if you’re at 10% of your best, you’re gonna give somebody something awesome. Even in the presentations that you think you bomb, somebody there is going to hear something that made a difference in their life. There’s no hook Enos to this. This is what it is. All right. That was a quick one, but hopefully gave you some things to chew on. Again, go to Even if you’re not able to make the date for this year, we run to a year get into next year. Remember 10 people so once it’s locked up, it’s locked up. Take advantage of the early bird discounts the payment plans. If you have questions, comments, concerns, anything just reach out to us at Okay, until next time, we will talk to you soon

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