TEDMED stage Palm Springs

Emotion and relationships in TED Talks

Emotion and Relationships Move People.

This is one of my favourite TED style talks. For a few reasons. Firstly, how I first saw it. A guy who had worked on and off for me for a few years sent the clip to me via Facebook with the message “This woman reminds me of you.” I watched it and had to dry my eyes. Who would not want to be compared to this woman?

There are many reasons why this video has been viewed over 5 million times. Rita Pierson is very funny. She has something to say. She is real and she is authentic. She is not selling anything.

But I don’t want to talk about her delivery – although it is really great and the talk is worth watching for that alone. I want to talk about her content. Because she is a coach and so am I.

She talks a whole lots of sense – but the bit I find really excellent is where she says:

“…We know why kids don’t learn. It’s either poverty, low attendance, negative peer influences… We know why. But one of the things that we never discuss or we rarely discuss is the value and importance of human connection. Relationships.
01:07
James Comer says that no significant learning can occur without a significant relationship. George Washington Carver says all learning is understanding relationships. Everyone in this room has been affected by a teacher or an adult. For years, I have watched people teach. I have looked at the best and I’ve looked at some of the worst.
01:33
A colleague said to me one time, “They don’t pay me to like the kids. They pay me to teach a lesson. The kids should learn it. I should teach it, they should learn it, Case closed.”
01:44
Well, I said to her, “You know, kids don’t learn from people they don’t like.”

Becoming a SpeakerCoach

I didn’t set out to be a teacher, let alone a SpeakerCoach. It was supposed to be a temporary thing – so much so that I only reluctantly agreed to be trained as a SuperLearning/Suggestopedia(NLP) Coach in Germany by the Institute where I worked. It certainly helped my coaching and made my coaching “stickier” – but pieces of paper don’t make you a good coach – they just stop you being a crap coach.

Over the last 24 years I have been coaching individuals and groups. A lot of that has been in the corporate world in a corporate setting and much of the challenge of coaching and teaching people has been

  1. getting them to relax and
  2. getting them to like me.

This dual task is tough in a corporate training room and even tougher in a group where there are 12 – 15 egos and agendas bouncing around the place. I did this in the German corporate world for over 15 years, so in a different culture as well. It was often intense and always very demanding but it was a brilliant bootcamp/ training ground. It honed my radar, extended my ears and sharpened my eyes to spot early signs of when people were not receiving, understanding, absorbing or agreeing.

On the plus side, at least my clients want to be taught – teaching a class of kids who have to be there, like Rita does, fills me with dread. I have spoken to classes of 15 and 16 year olds at Pimlico Academy in London and, believe me, I would rather be interrogated by a Select Committee or a PLC Board than spend any more time in front of those scary kids!

Building a Coach/Student relationship

So back to Rita’s point. Building a teacher/student relationship. It’s tough in limited time in a corporate setting and tougher in groups. I now work slightly differently as much as I can. Firstly, I prefer to work one on one with clients which enables much more open and frank discussion, coaching and feedback. Secondly, I prefer to work at my home on the coast in Sussex or in London. This is very informal and helps the client to relax and be themselves. Often clients will come to Sussex the night before and stay in my guest room and we chat over a drink and a meal the night before. This really helps us to understand each other and definitely contributes to the success of the coaching.

With some clients it is easiest to work via Skype. This is usually done with them in their homes and me in mine. It’s not perfect – but it is 1-2-1 and informal so it is pretty good. And it avoids plane fairs and travel time.

But in all my coaching, I don’t just talk or broadcast. Nothing is “off the shelf”. Everything is customised. I have some standard courses – but the coaching moulds itself around the client, our pace, the mood of the day and their requirements. I am often provocative and I push, cajole, tease and demand. Because I like my clients and I really want them to succeed and I hope that they can feel this. But I still want to be more like Rita!!

Anyway, I hope you enjoy the video. Feel free to comment or share.

I have worked with speakers on talks that have ended on TEDx, TEDMED and TED stages and I am also a TEDMED SpeakerCoach. If you have an “idea worth spreading” give me a call and we can discuss how I can help you maximise the impact of your talk.

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