Speaking lessons from leading my mastermind

AlexiaCoaching, Leadership, Public Speaking

One of the many things I love about December professionally (in addition to the two week break I take over the holidays to rest and restore before opening enrollment for my virtual speaker coaching program in early-January each year), is leading the women in my Spotlight Speakers Collective for a MasterTreat™ weekend. (If you’ve never been to one of my MasterTreat™ events, they’re pretty killa. They are a mastermind-meets-transformational retreat that fuse speaking and business development with deep and delicious personal transformation.)

I love these experiences, because in addition to being of service to my clients, I always learn gobs from leading and participating in them.

For example, this year I learned (and in some cases remembered):

  1. If you want to develop your facilitation skills fast, co-lead an experience with someone who possesses a different speaking/facilitation style.

Each of the women in the Spotlight Speakers Collective had to co-lead a transformational activity with a person I chose for her—and I paired women with partners who had, in most cases, radically different energies and styles. This forced everyone to be really clear about where she shines, and see (and, in many cases, adopt) ways of leading slightly outside her comfort zone. To be a great speaker or facilitator we must play to our strengths, and be willing to try new ways of presenting and holding space. This leads me to my next takeaway.

  1. There is not one right way to hold space for a group.

Some people need a lot of nurturing, support and permission—and others need a metaphorical slap across the tushie and a firm, albeit compassionate reminder to get out of their own way and not shrink when resistance emerges. My December event forced me to play both roles, and I grew as a coach and facilitator for flexing based on what I intuited my women needed.

  1. As a facilitator, you will have moments when you wonder, Is this going to come together? And if you stay out of your ego and in service, it will.

What happens in a Lex event stays at a Lex event, but suffice to say there was an hour period where close to a quarter of participants were in a dark place. I momentarily worried I had under estimated how much Kleenex® to purchase, and I had to assuage other participants that this would pass and not to worry about their sisters. Everybody processes and transforms on their own timeline, and if you force people through their emotions—whether those emotions are anger or sadness—you shortchange people their learning, growth and evolution.

  1. Give breathing space.

So, in every speaking or live event leadership training I run, I preach—don’t cram in too much information. Keep your presentations/events uncomplicated. Transform… don’t just teach.

As a recovering over educator, this is hard for me. It took me a lot of years to be unapologetic about using my voice. So now, I can talk a lot! I made space at the MasterTreat™ for a 2.5 hour “breather”, and it was one of the highlights of the experience. Not only did people breathe, they connected with each other. New presentation and program ideas were hatched. Partnerships were formed. And a pretty raucous slumber party, I’m told, was thrown!