In Art Of Coaching Podcast, Podcasts

This is it!  The last (and arguably the most important) episode of our 3 part series “Public Speaking Tips.”

In today’s episode, we’ll dive into our final topic – how to be a better storyteller.  More specifically, you’ll listen to a compilation of soundbites from three of our previous guests.  Each of them will give their own take on how to leverage the skill of storytelling to create a more memorable and impactful message, and connect with any audience on a deeper, more meaningful level. 

More specifically, you’ll hear from: 

  • E178: Kindra Hall – The 4 Key Components of a Story and a tactical approach to apply them to your specific context
  • E152: Michael Tucker – How to shift your perspective to find more creative solutions
  • E171: Gabe Polsky –  How to prioritize your message while under constraints

The original episodes are linked above, for your reference.

In addition to each episode, we provide FREE reflection worksheets to help you think about what each episode means to you and how it applies to your life.  You can download all of them HERE.

Are you preparing for a presentation or just looking for some specific coaching regarding your speaking skills? We have exactly what you’re looking for!  Our virtual 1:1 Mentoring Program is tailored to your goals, and provides you with the individualized attention, evaluation, and coaching you need.  Schedule a free consultation call with our team today to find out if it’s the right fit for you!

If you’re not really feeling the whole virtual idea, check out our live Speaker School event. Although our 2023 edition is sold out, you can lock in your spot for our 2024 workshop and be the first to get all the updates as they roll out!  This live 2 day experience not only covers the knowledge you need to understand your audience and speak to them in a way they understand, 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. 

Lastly – we haven’t done a ton of these series in the past, and we’d love to hear your thoughts!  With everything, our goal is to provide you with value and tools to help you make progress, and we want to make sure that’s what’s happening.  Feel free to contact the team directly at with any thoughts on things you found interesting or helpful, or not, in our previous 2 series (Entrepreneur Essentials & Public Speaking Tips).  We appreciate your time and effort!

Art of Coaching Staff Development: 

Consistent professional development is a non-negotiable if we want to perform and stay relevant in our field.  And as the leader of a staff or department, we do our best to promote an environment of consistent growth and high performance in all areas – both in technical skills and on the interpersonal side of things.  However, despite our efforts, organized and routine continuing education often gets pushed down the priority list when compared to all the other responsibilities we have on our plates.  That’s why we at Art of Coaching have created a virtual staff development program, which is tailored to the needs and goals of your staff and department.  

This program is NOT just an inspirational, “rah rah,” type of experience.  Specific and customized to your mission and values, we provide you and your staff with educational resources and guide you through discussion, tools, and strategies you can use to grow together in the areas of building trusting relationships, becoming better communicators, and strategically approaching hard conversations. Reach out to us HERE for more information.


Brett Bartholomew  0:21  

Okay, you might not know this, but we offer staff development as well. This is very easy. It is all virtual and it is tailored to you. So if you’re somebody that values human to human interaction, building trust, and you want your staff to get better at the interpersonal side of things, leave the work to us. Just reach out to us at There’s a contact us page, it’s very easy. We work with a wide variety of budgets, and we have worked with people in a wide variety of fields. It doesn’t matter whether you’re in sports performance, physical therapy, finance, anything. The fact is, most people don’t have time to be able to grow their staff. In this way, they’ve got to upskill them on the technical side of things, they’ve got to make sure they’re up skilled in the standard operating procedures. Let us handle the interpersonal piece. Let us handle the part that helps your staff get better at building trust, building relationships, and helping make what you do get amplified, please reach out to us at Now, it’s a contact us page, we’d be happy to help. If that’s not easy enough, just email us at


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.


Ali Kershner  2:31  

Hello, everyone, as you’ve probably noticed, already, in the first few seconds, you have a different host today. It’s not Brett, it’s me, Ali, I’m going to be taking the reins for today’s third and final episode of the series that we’ve been doing on the art of public speaking or, as you’ve probably realized, the art of any kind of speaking because these tools apply to any situation or circumstance in which you have to communicate a message or an idea to a person or people. And you certainly don’t have to be getting up in front of a crowd to do that. 


Now, I will say this, if you haven’t listened to the first two episodes of this series, please pause this one and go back and do that. Because while the episodes don’t necessarily depend on one another, they do go in order of what you’re going to want to know and what you will need to know leading up to during and even after speaking. For example, we started with an episode on how much content is enough when speaking, which will help you determine what information to keep in and what to cut, especially if you’re given some sort of a time constraint and amount of time that you have to fill. Then most recently, we did an episode on the ultimate pre talk checklist, which is where Brett gave you a list of things to consider or to do before you step on stage or get in front of the people that you’re speaking to. And today very exciting. We’ll be diving into our third and final topic how to be a better storyteller. Or I guess more specifically for this context, how to leverage the art of storytelling to better connect with your audience and create a memorable and impactful message.


Now, you might be saying storytelling, huh, that’s not the direction I thought they’d go with this series. I was hoping for a super tactical episode on exactly how to structure my talk or key principles for better slide design. And trust me, we’re definitely going to do future episodes on those things. But the reality is, if you don’t First, understand and leverage the principles of storytelling and your speaking, the other things I just mentioned won’t matter. And if you’ll allow me to kind of summarize a few key points here, I think you’ll understand now, storytelling is what allows us to understand and communicate complex ideas and information that’s in a way that’s easier to understand, right? We comprehend stories more easily than we do dry facts or data, because we tend to make decisions and we tend to think in terms of emotion and feeling as opposed to pure logic. Another thing to remember is that storytelling is what allows us to digest and retain information when it’s present. In a narrative form, our brains can better process and recall information. Because evolutionarily, right, if you go way, way back, this is how we pass along pertinent lessons and wisdom from generation to generation. Stories also tend to follow certain formats and structures, right, which allows our brains to organize the information that’s coming in. And in for context, without necessarily having all the details, there’s certain order, right beginning middle end, rising action, the climax of the story, and then the resolution. And then finally, storytelling is what allows us to connect with people, because they tend to involve and evoke our emotions and allow us to share or feelings so that we can put ourselves in one another’s shoes and imagine what they’re going through what they were thinking in that moment, and what led them to the decision or the ultimate outcome. So if I had to summarize all of that, essentially, storytelling is what allows us to capture the minds and the hearts of our audience. But here’s the thing, storytelling isn’t something that you’re either good at, or you’re not. I used to think that there were good storytellers. And there are bad storytellers. Or that you had to have a great, crazy thing happened to you in order to be a great storyteller. And the fact is, that even actually, the best of the best can take mundane occurrences and transform it into sticky, impactful narratives. So long story, short, storytelling, like everything else that we try to teach is a skill, and not one built passively a skill that we can really all improve. And honestly, one that we’ve discussed many times on this podcast before, but today, in lieu of our normal format, and so you don’t have to listen to me just kind of ramble on for another 30 minutes, we’re going to take you back in time to a handful of clips from our favorite guest episodes. On this topic. Each one is going to help you understand a different angle of storytelling, and walk you through how to apply it in your own life, whether that be for as we mentioned before, a public speaking event, daily coaching sessions, staff meetings, or even in conversation with your kids. So I hope you enjoy this slightly different format, and let’s dive in.


All right, first up is a segment from Episode 178, with none other than Kyndra Hall. If you don’t remember from her episode, Kyndra is a professional storyteller and best selling author of two incredible books, which I highly recommend you check out. Kyndra works with leaders, executives, organizations, entrepreneurs, business owners of any kind, and at any stage to help them understand tell and then obviously optimize their stories. In this particular clip, you’re going to hear her describe the four key components that any effective or purposeful story has to have, you’ll also get to see that she has a very tactical approach, which makes it honestly extraordinarily easy to take what she’s saying and apply it to your setting, no matter the context. So again, whether you’re in the boardroom social setting, at home with your family, this is going to help you leverage your experiences to influence shaped mold, change the opinions of others. And just to give you a bit more context, because obviously, we’re just dropping you in on a conversation. What just happened is that she’s answering Brett’s question about how to bridge the gap when as a speaker, you have to follow someone who left the audience with either low energy or maybe they knocked it out of the park. And then the conversation will expand from there hope you enjoy


Kyndra Hall  8:27  

Well, a couple of things. Number one, and this is gonna sound like a gimme answer from the storyteller but be ready with a story always, no matter what the presentation is what it’s for, if it’s just for the opening of like, if you’re following somebody in a meeting, or you’re giving an address during a difficult time in a company, the number one thing that will help shift the energy with less effort than just coming at it with brute force is a story because as you are telling that story, you gain control of the energy of the room because the people who are listening to it will come with you now that is assuming that you’ve done work on your stories and that you this isn’t something you can I would not recommend off the cuff especially in really high stakes situations. So it’s why it’s important that you’re listening to this now that this is something you can be prepared with but number one always have stories ready. And then number two, I think that I mean I’ve been in situations where the energy was really high. And then I had to come in and mine was more tactical, you know. So there’s that conflict. I’ve come in where the energy was really low after you know, like a really boring presentation from somebody. I love those situations because I’m an automatic in for raising the energy backup. That’s definitely That’s my sweet spot. I’ve been, I had it happen once I was a big fan of America’s Got Talent. And there was this was several years ago, and there was the kid named Cody, who could play the piano and sing and was just this incredible musician. Um, he had autism, I think he was blind, like just this incredible. And I would watch him on America’s Got Talent and just be blown away. And I remember saying out loud to my family, because we would watch it together. Man, I feel bad for whoever has to follow that guy. Yeah. And then what do you know, a couple months later, he is the opener for the big conference. And he does his little thing. And then I had to follow that guy. Right? So even right there, there was that how did I bridge that gap? I had a little, I was proud of myself. I told that exact story. I’m like, Man, I remember watching him and saying to my family, how do you, I hate to follow that guy. And then I just like pause. And then we moved into my part. And I think the third thing that I would mention here, I think I’m still on number two, but the point being to be really confident in yourself and the message that you are now bringing and that the message that you’re going to communicate is also important to the people in the room who are there to listen to it. The one time I remember where I messed it up was there was a keynote speaker who went before me who just blew the roof off. Like there were like, people were screwed. I mean, it was insane. Screaming, she was so incredible. There was a short break. And then it was my turn. And I just couldn’t get out of my own head. I lost track of what message I was there to communicate I lost track of. And it took me a while to gain my footing, but to have faith in the stories you’re going to share and the reason you’re there to communicate in the first place.


Brett Bartholomew  11:58  

Yeah, well, you touched on some good points there. And you mentioned it in your book stories that stick where, you know, always choose stories, not people. So even when you were intimidated by, that situation or when you did have to that tough act to follow. You know, the fact that you knew your story, you knew it well. And you know how to link it to tactical takeaways so that the audience can do something with it is always going to be a differentiator. Right. I think one thing that we talked about with our organization is that’s great that there’s some speakers that really want to inspire and energize. And that can be a byproduct of what you do. But let’s say there’s some speakers that that’s the main thing they focus on. And then there’s some that almost kind of like scare people into behavior change. And I always used to say, well, that’s great, but somewhere between being really inspired, and really like, freaked out and extreme accountability, I still need to have something tactical, right? I still need to know what to do with my business and with my life. And so I always appreciated that about your work is you don’t just talk about how important story is there’s 1000 books that do that. But you get detailed and you say, Hey, this is how you craft it, there are certain components. It’s not just about the inciting incident. It’s about, hey, what was the normal before? And then what explosion happened? Would you mind kind of giving a detail and our listeners are realistic, they don’t expect you to summarize your tremendous book in detail. But if you wouldn’t mind just given an above the fold headline of those critical components that a great story should have. I know they’d love it. 


Kyndra Hall  13:23  

Yeah. And I do think that that was that was the whole reason behind, you know, when you go from telling your first story at 11, there was a big, there was a long journey between then releasing the book when I was 38. I don’t really want to say it out loud, but whatever. But what I did learn through those several decades was this thing that had come really naturally to me and maybe it was because I’ve been practicing it and studying it was so completely lost on people and I would read it the other you know, the many other books about storytelling before I was thinking about writing my own and I would be so frustrated. Because like you said it would be a lot of stories are so important, but not very much of Okay, so now what do I do? Like how do I do this? So in stories that stick I outline, as you said, a framework and then perhaps even more importantly of four key components that really are the things that if they are included, will make your story more memorable will make it more compelling will make it more influential, and I believe relatable. And so the first one is that a story needs to have an identifiable character specifically in business where I see companies going wrong, is they say we hear it Arctic ice believe that frozen things are the best and should never melt or whatever it is, but we’re like who’s Arctic ice like we don’t think about there are very few brands that have escalated all All the way such that we feel like they’re a member of our family. Yeah, maybe that is an ultimate goal of yours. But that is definitely not where you should start. So the stories need to have a character, a person, someone that the listener the audience can relate to and, understand and see themselves in or see themselves as different and learn something from that difference. So that’s the first component. Do you want me just to go through all of them? 


Yeah, if you don’t mind, and we can talk about them or anything like that. So but yeah, I’d love just to get them. Yeah, go ahead.


Yeah, um, kind of the overview. So the second in there, no, no particular order. But the second component is authentic emotion. And again, where stories go wrong is there’s a tendency to in business, right, we want to take out the emotion now we’ve been pretending to add it back in by saying that we need to be vulnerable. And we need to be authentic and we read, but just saying you need to do those things doesn’t mean that you’re doing the writing. That’s something completely different. But one way that you can make sure that you are being authentic. And it really, I think, what that whole cry is about is to be a human, don’t separate your humaneness from your title on your business card. But that is not an editable thing. Like you need to have them both in there together. So authentic emotion in stories is instead of saying, you know, we did this, and we did this, and here’s how things happened. Like maybe you’re talking about a particular technological installation, that’s what your business does. Well, I don’t know about you, but especially when Mercury’s in retrograde, like technical installations are a very emotional experience. And if you think about the people involved in this, what’s at stake for them, what happens if we get behind schedule, what happens if we lose all of the data like, like all of those, what happens are very real emotions that are easily included. So that’s the second component. The third component is to have a moment, like a specific moment in time. And this is the hardest one to explain. But I believe it’s the most important, it’s the easiest one to change, to turn your message from just typical communication or marketing copy, or blah, blah, blah, the corporate speak into something more powerful. And that is, you know, as you’re thinking about the thing that happened, or, you know, maybe it’s the founding of a company, or whatever it is, to zoom all the way in on one moment of that journey, you know, like even, without even really meaning to because it’s something that happens naturally for me now, but I brought you into that classroom with the girl that was reading that other book and the kids that were bouncing around. So by zooming it all the way into a particular moment, you’re engaging your audience in what I call the co creative process. So they start picturing, it blurs the line between this is my story, or that’s your story. And I’m just listening to it, or that’s your message. And I’m just listening to it. And it allows people to enter in and participate in it. And then the fourth component is specific details, which you can kind of see throughout all of these, but this is where getting really specific about the thing, the little details that you include, can a again, encourage that co creative process, but b if your communication if you’re trying to achieve a specific goal with your communication, and maybe the audience is skeptical, or maybe there are different walls that you have to break through. These small details can show that you’re alike, it can show that you understand them because you share those even sharing the title of the book that the other girl read, I assume that you know, we’re kind of maybe in the same age range books you’ve probably heard of right. So that right there, I could have said, Oh, the woman before me read a book and everybody got was bored. I spend the extra time to name the book because my audience I figured would know about it. And it just so happens that that detail inspired an entire different story of your own, which is exactly what you want to do. 


Brett Bartholomew  15:30  

Yep,  absolutely. And I think the thing that I want to draw attention to is you having that framework of laying those things out and identifiable character, authentic emotions a moment in time and specific details that helps anybody listening really reconstruct their own story. And I think here’s an interesting thing that I found is, most people really think that they don’t have a story, you know, and when I wrote my book, I talked about how I was hospitalized for a year in my life. And it was an odd story for some or it caught them off guard because I’m a male, obviously, and I had an eating disorder at 15. My friends, who you know, I grew up playing sports and sports were my life and all of a sudden a lot of these kids turned to meth and cocaine. I mean, crazy stuff that I had no concept of as a teenager. At the same time, my parents are getting a divorce. So I turn inward and I’m like, alright, well, I’m just gonna train obsessively for sport I have nobody to hang out with anymore. I had all this anxiety, I didn’t know what to do. And it took me 16 years to write about my hospitalization in a book, because I’m in this very Alpha kind of field, or, you know, it’s a field that I started off on that people don’t usually just come out and say, Hey, I was hospitalized, and I went from 156 pounds, 93 pounds, and now I train all these athletes. You know, in the field that I started out in, you just shut your mouth and you’re supposed to be seen, not heard, and you’re supposed to stay in the trenches. But then that book came out. And all of a sudden, people started hitting me up and saying, hey, oh, my God, I have a similar story. And I have this friend I’m like, Well, then why aren’t you telling it? And so these are why I always ask tell people now listen, if you are having trouble verbalizing your story, pick up Kyndra’s book stories that stick because you’re not just saying the world needs to hear it, you’re the best. Think of all the people you could inspire. You’re saying, Ah, detail, detail, detail detail, here’s how you craft it. And am I right with that? I mean, was that the end goal to really give somebody that toolkit to be able to do that. I mean,


I there’s so much to unpack there, I think, yeah, the end goal was really to say, to like, open people’s eyes, these stories are there and whether they are as intense and as I mean, that’s a big story, your story. And I’m interested, I watched the video of you telling that story. I’m interested to hear you mentioned that a little bit. But how people did respond to that story, because that is the ultimate like Bravo for your willingness to be vulnerable and in like counterculture in so many ways. So I want to talk about that. But the other thing that I think is important here is yes, the end goal was to was to say like, yes, you have a story. And the the reason you maybe haven’t told it is because you don’t know how to access it, you don’t know how to put it together, you don’t know where to tell it or that you should tell it. So let me give you all of the tools to do that. But the other important thing that is worth mentioning here, is that, like I’ve never I’ve never been trained to think over my life. You know, how we can sometimes forget are 


sure 100% 


Kyndra Hall  22:16  

I haven’t been hospitalized. Like I did not go from 150 pounds to 90 pounds, right? Like any of my stories there, isn’t it? They aren’t as big as yours as your story. And that can be intimidating for people. For people that think that Well, I don’t have a story because none of my stories are big enough. But the reality is, this isn’t storytelling isn’t only accessible to those big stories that isn’t the magnitude of a story that makes it a viable tool for communication. Like even really small stories can cross huge concrete, build huge bridges between people. I think in stories that stick I share the story of a woman who is a financial advisor. And her story that she found that she shares is when she and I’m not going to tell the whole story. But it was like that she’s loved money ever since she was a little kid asked for as like for birthdays and holidays. Not because she wanted to spend it. But because she wanted to play with it and stack it and count it. That’s an admirable definitely the quality I want from my. 


Brett Bartholomew  23:28  



Kyndra Hall  23:29  

But it was really and it was this really cute story of this interaction with her mother. She could tell that story. Very small story. And I mean, just book clients day after day after day, because that story expresses the essence of who she is. And that’s really what we want to know.


Brett Bartholomew  23:51  

Yep. 100% I mean, what you said there is, you know, my story might be big relative to something else. But that doesn’t make it relatable. You know, there are some people that might feel really identify with it, or at least some of the authentic emotions expressed in it. And some might feel like I have no context there. I remember specifically when we were putting it out to publishers, and we had talked to a literary agent, a good buddy of mine had put me in touch with and he said, Listen, you know, I think that story is going to be too much for some people. And I remember hearing that and I was like, it almost kind of killed the desire to put the book out because this was my first experience writing a book, right? This came out in 2017 took three years to write. And I just remember him saying like, wait a minute, nobody wants to hear about this story. A male being hospitalized and what have you and I said, well then what stories do they want to hear about anything and I just remember kind of feeling deflated. I said, screw that we’re going to self publish this. You know and then think of all the people that like to your point on the other end like you said, they think they have something small but the world is filled with people that have these daily story you know, like there’s, it’s every day we live is a three act structure. or every day has some kind of conflict and rising tension and what have you, and who better to tell your own story, then you because there’s a billion people in the world and I promise somebody’s had that experience or something like that before. Right? 


Kyndra Hall  25:12  

Exactly. And that’s where that’s where they,  that’s where the true gift is. Because even then, Brett, as you were saying, I told this story and then people, it’s by telling your own story, you’re giving permission to people to a share theirs. And I really believe this is this is where I get, you know, this is the high aspiration, but I really believe, the world would be such a better place. if we knew each other’s stories. And what happens is there it sounds like, it feels like what I’m saying is we need to listen to each other’s stories, which is fine. But I think a better way to come about it, is by being generous with sharing our own. Instead of being like, you know, I’m going to listen like be the example of, what happens when we share our stories that somebody can understand you a little bit better, and more importantly, they understand their own life a little bit better.


Ali Kershner  26:26  

Okay, next up are a few clips from Episode 152, in which we interviewed Michael Tucker, who’s a filmmaker and writer living in Los Angeles. He’s the creator of a YouTube channel called Lessons from the Screenplay, which if you can believe this reaches over 1.3 million people. And that was a couple of years ago, when we first interviewed him. He’s also the host of the podcast beyond the screenplay, and the creator of a new series that looks at storytelling in video games called Story mode. So obviously, you can tell that he has quite diverse and unique experiences when it comes to storytelling. And his work has really helped us realize that nearly every problem that we face, as people, as coaches as business owners, as spouses, as siblings, is a story by itself. And each has its own plot its own character arcs. And by looking at these things, as stories, it can really help us frame the problems that we’re facing, and improve our ability to be creative in terms of their solutions. So in this segment, you’re going to hear him share some really valuable perspective on what he thinks storytelling really is some tools to use in the process of writing and telling your own story. And then he poses a really interesting question at the end, about how to find your own approach. So I hope you enjoy this, you know, these few couple clips here. And just a heads up, for the sake of this type of episode, I just want to warn you that we do jump around the conversation a bit, but hang with us, I promise, it’ll come together at the end, I hope you enjoy these clips with Michael Tucker.


Brett Bartholomew  27:59  

And coaching, there are many different characters, there are many different conflicts. And there are many similar story arcs. We’re all trying to take somebody from one point, navigating a variety of obstacles to get them to another point what they want, or what they need to achieve. So it was organic. You know, I have to ask, though, Michael, when you think of what you do, and what you examine, prior to speaking with me, even just shortly before the episode, would you have ever contextualized coaching in a similar manner. And that way?


Michael Tucker  28:28  

I probably that probably wouldn’t have been my first thought, No, I do appreciate that. You know, what I love about storytelling, when it’s done well, that it is accessing human psychology and just the way that we perceive the world and interact with the world and the way we live, we kind of think of ourselves as the protagonist in stories a lot of the time. And so the idea behind storytelling does pop up everywhere, because it is just how humans see the world and, you know, cycles of growth and death and renewal and all that stuff is everywhere. And that’s why good storytelling is powerful. So I would not have been my first thought, but when to explain it. I was like, Oh, that makes complete sense. Of course. Kind of all storytelling is essentially manipulation, but manipulation for good, ideally, and, you know, to help people grow and to teach lessons and themes. And so I think, as I spent more time investigating that I just was really excited to be able to have that power to make other people happy or teach them like a better way to live or impart lessons that I had learned in life. And so there was kind of as far as like my personal journey with filmmaking, especially when I was in college, I was very focused on the directing side of things and you know, it’s easy to get excited about the technical aspects of filmmaking and I want this new camera and you know, this shoots in HD and with this lens, I’ll be able to do this shot. And it’s easy, I think, especially when you’re younger to get excited about the toys aspect of film. And so a lot of my focus when younger was on that. And then after moving to LA and kind of tried to make it in the industry, I would, you know, the work that I made was technically impressive, and would get me into the room. And then people would kind of say, cool. So what’s your story? Where’s your screenplay? And then they’d read it and be like, well, the writing isn’t up to par with the directing the technical aspects of stuff. And so after kind of running into that wall over and over again, I realized, Oh, this is a weakness that I have is the fundamentals of storytelling. That was the stuff that I wasn’t paying attention to, in college when I was learning about filmmaking. So why don’t I put aside the things that I already feel pretty good at and tackle this weakness, this lack that I have, and just go hard on it, and try to see if I can up that, that part of it. And that’s kind of where Lessons from the Screenplay came from.


Brett Bartholomew  31:11  

Can you talk a little bit more about the role that constraints play in your life and the value of your work?


Michael Tucker  31:18  

Yeah, yeah, absolutely. Yeah. So one of the projects that Alex and I worked on about 10 years ago is this series of short films that we did called finite films where we would, we were gonna release a short film every month, and the audience could come and submit constraints that were just these one word, or one sentence. character based things location, things like one character loves all lives, or one scene must take place in the rain. And that idea came to us because we were trying to come up with new ideas for stories. And, you know, when you’re writing and you sit down, and there’s a big, blank page, it’s can be overwhelming, or, you know, you can start going a direction and then halfway through realize, actually, no, I want to go this way. And he can end up all over the place. And so having constraints is actually what activates creativity. So when you have these certain walls around you, and it’s like, well, you can’t go over there, and you can’t go over there. Now you have to make a good story, that it suddenly becomes fun, it becomes almost like a puzzle. So constraints are very important to the creative process. I think, like, I think someone use the example of like painting, like the frame of a painting, like the canvas is your constraint, you have to do something within these borders. And that’s, kind of what the constraints are almost what gives the project meaning. And so I think what that year long process of making those short films taught us was to embrace constraints, because I think that’s another, you know, I always think about, again, film school, me, and all the things that aren’t fun about creating it first. And, you know, the idea of like, well, you have to make something, it can only be this long, and it has to take place here, at first that can sound limiting, and you want to rebel against that. But now I see the value in creating those constraints. And that activates the part of yourself that that ultimately has the most fun, I think, like, that’s where you can create something that is of value to people, and it challenges you to be better. And that’s how you improve. So constraints, I think, are a very important part of the creation process. 


I think there’s more imagination in our daily lives than we are conscious of, like, I think So many of our interpersonal relationships or fears that we have, are these kind of stories that we’re telling ourselves unconsciously, where it’s like, you can be really afraid that this person is going to react this way or, you know, sometimes, you know, I’ll have conversations in my head where I’m like, I’m worried about this note that I’m gonna give this person and they’re gonna say this, and then I’m gonna have to say this. And then who knows what’s going to happen. There’s this whole scenario that I’ve created in my head. That is me assuming that’s what’s going to happen, but it isn’t real, but it’s affecting me and affecting my body as if it is real. And so I think doing things that yeah, that flex, your imagination, muscles and your improvisation muscles are actually very useful in navigating life because so much of our experience is kind of created in our heads. Like at any given moment, there’s very little that’s around us that is completely real. Like it’s hard to explain but the things that we’re that we carry around with us day to day, whether it’s about work and projects, it’s usually stuff that’s either happened or is supposed to happen and isn’t The future and, you know, very little bit is tangible right in front of us. And so, so much of our experience is, yeah, like navigating the story that we’re kind of constantly weaving about ourselves, and what’s supposed to happen, and what we’re afraid of is going to happen and what we want to happen. And so I think being just being having more awareness of that fact, I think is useful as a creative and just as a person living life.


Ali Kershner  35:27  

The final episode we wanted to revisit today is episode 171 with a Polsky and award winning writer, director and producer who has emerged as one of the top documentary filmmakers in the world of sports and beyond. He has written directed and produced several successful projects, including a documentary you may have heard of called In Search of greatness, which is also the primary film that Brett and Gabetalked about on this episode. And in search of greatness, just for those who haven’t seen it is essentially a cinematic journey into and behind the scenes of what it takes to be a genius, or at the top of your game. And it’s told by some of the greatest performers, and athletes of all time, it has been nominated for many, many, many awards, including a WGA award 2017. And this is truly one of our favorite episodes that we’ve ever recorded. Just a heads up, these clips are a bit shorter than some of the previous ones. But we thought that they spoke really strongly to the idea of the uniqueness of stories and how to prioritize your message when you’re under constraints as you might be when you’re making a film or documentary. I hope you enjoy and listen in on our conversation with Gabe Polsky.


Gabe Polsky  36:46  

In film, or television, you know, nobody wants to you can’t copy other people, I think you can copy other people, but you’re not a good director or filmmaker. So you have to like really understand your own kind of nature and voice. And, again, you know, if you have these strengths, they’re there. They’re the way you think your life experience, you’re, and you have to kind of harness that and sort of create your own thing, your voice, you know, and that audiences will respond to that. Because you’re doing something different. You’re bringing something different the world, it’s exact same in sports. And I think a lot of other fields. I’m thinking fields that might not be as you know, like some kind of engineering thing, but it’s still there’s always elements to infuse your own mojo to you know, because, you know, the world needs new technologies, you know, and it’s constantly evolving. So, I do think that those principles apply to everything, you know, yeah. So I’m always thinking well, okay. How’s this idea been stated before? And it has too much Is it going to bore the audience? You know, we’ve already heard that, okay, great. But maybe we hear it in a little bit of a different context, or it’s, you know, reinforced in a different way. So yeah, I think the idea of the film in search of greatness is like, it’s a unique film, because I don’t think anyone’s really ever explored greatness in this particular way. And it has gotten kind of these guys together and done kind of an all encompassing thing. There’s obviously a lot there’s more things to say, but I felt like I got to the core of what I felt. I wanted to say, you know, in a unique way, it’s a kind of a free flowing film, there’s you don’t really the way I described it as you don’t really know where you’re going in there, but you’re still in you know what I’m saying? You’re it’s just flowing into new things and you’re like, oh, yeah, that’s right. Yeah. Then you kind of feel like oh, now we’re going into another thing you know, like, whether it’s parenting or, or genetics or you know, obsession you know, motivation you know, those kinds of things.


Brett Bartholomew  39:11  

Can we talk about film being one of the ultimate ways to get a message across what you did wonderfully Our job is so fun. So centered around communication. So to go from what you had to 80 minutes there’s all this message prioritization that has to take place this is going to be very broad so do take it wherever you want. How do you approach that? How do you approach the idea of okay what kind of what are the core messages of course there are things around creativity and problem solving or whatever but these are you have to kill your darlings you know, you have to kill so much talk to me about just what that’s like editing that down.


Gabe Polsky  39:48  

Wow, yeah, that was the core of what I was doing in this film. Obviously the topic of greatness. So big, I just, you know, I just kind of made a list. And you know, I don’t have that in front of me right now. But, you know, again, I’ll name some of them. Okay, importance of genetics, parenting, free, you know, what was their youth? Like? How did they, you know, start exploring their own greatness and building the tools to do that. And then, you know, what motivated them? You know, the obsession what, how deep was this obsession? And what how did it manifest? What did each of these guys do? For instance, Gretzky would watch literally every single game after he played of other teams at night. I mean, we’re talking, I don’t know, millions of games who just sit there and watch Jerry Rice, after a game, he’ll go out on the field again, and start running routes. I mean, it just, it reaches a level that is beyond something that I had comprehended before. And I felt myself like almost like, Okay, I felt bad because I was like, you know, okay, this is way beyond what I could do. Like, I wouldn’t want to watch every game. After I played, it’s just too much. It’s like, you know what I’m saying?


Brett Bartholomew  41:31  

Yeah, it’s just rage to master. That was a quote from the movie, right? They had a rage to master.


Gabe Polsky  41:38  

Yeah, no, but the level. It’s, you know, I thought I kind of knew, but well, you know, when I listened to that it was pretty all encompassing, like, you have no other life, you know, but they loved it. I guess that they just love that that one thing. So. that’s how I kind of started narrowing down the movie. And then, yeah, selective. I mean, it’s just things that I thought were just so important to drill down and people that I thought would like, help people as much as possible with this film, you know, what I thought was most important. And obviously, there’s so much like parenting, for instance, well, we could talk about this for a month about parenting. But you select things to kind of build your message and my message, let’s say in parenting was just, you know, support your kid and give them kind of some opportunities to explore themselves and then let leave them alone. But if they need a little bit of help, you know, when you know, when you’re going to a game and you want to give them some advice, you know, that’s fine, too. But just, it’s all about, it has to come from them, you know, and, just leave them alone. Let them be free, get let them go out and play.


Ali Kershner  43:03  

All right, there you have it, a few bite sized, but hopefully powerful segments on the importance of storytelling for speaking. I hope you liked this new format. And even though we’re still experimenting, if you did, be sure to let us know so that we can do more like this in the future on a variety of different topics. As far as storytelling itself goes, if you enjoy this topic and want to dive even deeper, remember, there’s an entire episode attached to each of these segments. So I encourage you to go back and listen to the original, which will all be linked below in the show notes. And finally, if you want some feedback or advice on your speaking, whether that be technique, structure, storytelling, slide design, check out our in person speaker school at or our virtual one on one mentoring at Thank you again and from all of us at art of coaching. We’ll see you next time.

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