This Moved Me helps purpose-driven changemakers speak with confidence, clarity, and authenticity so they can create talks that move the world.
Moments become movements when meaning can be transmitted from one person to another. Whether it’s the #MeToo moment, or a new era of civil rights, important ideas are spread from person to person.
Humans are fortunate that we have language to convey these important ideas. However, unfortunately, many of us have preconceived ideas about what it means to speak in front of others. Many of these ideas are unhelpful.
That’s where Sally Koering Zimney comes in. Sally is an award-winning speaker and a presentation coach. She helps people create talks that move the world through her company, This Moved Me Productions and her weekly podcast, This Moved Me. Sally is so unconventional in her approach, she even has a TEDx talk on being an Un-Speaker.
Sally’s Path to Becoming a Speaking Coach
Sally’s love of moving audiences started early in life. In a recent interview, Sally described her childhood this way, “Middle class, middle child, middle America!” Her parents were both beloved teachers. Her mom focused her later career on adult education as an administrator helping immigrants learn English and take citizenship classes.
“My three brothers and I would drop in to my mom’s night classes, meeting people from all over the world in our fairly sheltered suburban city. Our lives were by any definition ‘privileged’, and yet, we were raised on values like inclusion, compassion, social justice, and the belief that education is the way to change the world.”
As the only girl with three brothers, Sally was a bit of a tomboy. “I loved sports when I was young and would eagerly jump into whatever activity my parents signed me up for.” From an early age, Sally loved to sing and was drawn to creative expression. “I loved to swing on my backyard swing set, and sing and sing and sing. My Dad turned his storage shed into a playhouse and schoolhouse for my imaginative playtime. It was a creative and imaginative place I would spend hours in every day. I was a happy, busy, extroverted and messy little tomboy who felt loved and supported. It was a wonderful childhood.”
As Sally grew up, she found her home on the theater stage. “I was in high school speech and won the National Championship of Original Oratory and had defining moments on stage in theater. There were heartbreaks and setbacks as well, of course! – but looking back on it now, it was such a positive experience overall.”
From the beginning of her career, Sally coached her colleagues on their presentations.
“The problem that bothered me was that most presentation coaches were setting out a formula for an ‘executive presence’ or ‘perfect and polished presentation.’ I wanted to help speakers to bust through these old and plastic definitions of speaking to find their more ‘authentic’ voice, which is a much tougher, messier, and less defined approach.”
“Too many presentations were just plain bad,” she explains. “Yet few were surprised or bothered by that. It was just kind of accepted. ‘Yeah, we just do slides like that. Yeah, these meetings are always boring. Yeah, that’s just the corporate lingo. Yeah, who cares!?’ Authenticity changes all of that. It asks us to do so much more with the moment but offers so much more to the audience.”
Sally’s Work Today
Sally’s purpose derives from a belief that we can move the world with a talk. “It has happened, and continues to happen,” she says. “Sometimes in a sermon, or from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, or on the TED stage, or in front of the boardroom.”
Sally coaches presenters both inside and outside of corporations. “An internal presentation to your colleagues can change the direction of your business, and the world. It happens in the big and little moments, and so it’s worth preparing for them and investing in making sure they matter to your audience.”
But, why does she emphasize authenticity? Her focus is not just on the speaker, but on helping the speaker to create an experience for the audience. “Authenticity is challenging to define, and even harder to find in oneself and then share,” Sally admits. “But ironically, it’s easy to identify from an audience’s perspective. And it makes the process of creating, practicing and delivering your message both more impactful and much scarier.”
What Sally Got Wrong
Sally admits that she did not always get her coaching practice right. “My biggest mistakes early on in my coaching career came from how I gave feedback. As is typical starting out, I was so eager to prove myself and my expertise. I wasn’t thinking about how the feedback would be received. I was only thinking about how on-point it was. And the speaker paid the price.”
How badly was she off the mark? “It was brutal. I even used grades, for goodness sake,” she admits. “These poor speakers, who didn’t have any choice in working with me, took big hits to their confidence levels, which is never good.”
Eventually, Sally modified her coaching style. “It didn’t take me long to realize that even if I was right in my feedback, it didn’t matter. The speaker felt less ready to get up and try again. A speaker’s ego is an essential part of their ability to get up and own the moment. I had to slow down and give only the feedback that would be helpful to them in this moment. I started my feedback mantra ‘honest and helpful.’”
Something unexpected came from giving honest and helpful feedback. “I discovered that giving feedback became this wonderfully vulnerable and relationship-building experience,” Sally explains. “I don’t like conflict, but I had to walk into it again and again as a coach. And eventually I saw that giving empowering feedback not only worked, but it was fulfilling for the speaker and me. One of my speakers said that through the process, they felt truly seen and loved. That really touched me, because I know how hard it is to receive feedback. ”
Sally’s Work Continues
Sally is building self-guided content for speakers in what she is calling MoversUniversity. Sally describes MoversUniversity as “an online platform of training modules for speakers to help them develop clearer content, deliver more authentic presentations, and master a speaker’s mindset. It’s been a long-time coming, and I’m excited to launch it in the next several months.”
This interview contains bonus material where Sally discusses:
- How she learned to be a speaker and coach.
- What she got wrong about coaching.
- Her personal mantra as a coach.
- How feedback can be a gift.
You can find the bonus episode here: https://tonyloyd.com/239b
Social Entrepreneurship Quotes from Sally Koering Zimney
Social Entrepreneurship Resources:
- This Moved Me: http://www.thismovedme.com
- Sally’s TEDx talk on being an Un-Speaker: https://youtu.be/BJLA2GeRtOc
- This Moved Me on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/thismovedme
- This Moved Me Talk Club on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/ThisMovedMeTalkClub
- This Moved Me on Twitter: https://twitter.com/thismovedme
- This Moved Me on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/thismovedme
- This Moved Me podcast: http://www.thismovedme.com/podcast
- Youth Frontiers: https://www.youthfrontiers.org
- Book: Crazy Good Advice: 10 Lessons Learned from 150 Leading Social Entrepreneurs: https://tonyloyd.com/book