Questions to ask when you are coaching a Forum presenter

The job of the coach is not to answer the presenter’s question but to help the presenter ask the right question.  Following are some questions you might ask when you are coaching to help the presenter focus in on the most important issue:

  • How would you define the problem?
  • Why is it your problem?
  • What is working well now (related to this issue)?
  • What is the worst case scenario?  How probable is it?
  • Close your eyes and imagine yourself in one year – everything (related to this issue) is exactly the way you want it to be.  What does it look like?
  • What is holding back the ideal situation from happening?
  • What is at risk for you to make this happen?
  • Are you willing to take that risk?
  • What would support from the Forum look like to you?

Bob Halperin

What if a member says “Just tell me what to do!”

A member showed up at a recent Forum meeting distraught over a major company reorganization and asked to present.  He told the group, “I don’t want to hear your experience, just tell me what to do!”  In other words, he wanted the group to violate the language protocol and give advice.

In this case, the Forum held to its normal mode and encouraged the presenter to listen to experience first.  In the end, the presenter said: “That was really helpful.  Thank you for not allowing me to be the victim, expecting to be rescued by all of you.  You have empowered me to go address the issue myself.”

Keep in mind that in many situations, it’s a lot easier for the advice giver to give the advice, than for the person with the problem to act on it.  Giving advice can actually make it harder for the person with the issue because they can feel trapped, judged, pressured to do something they are not ready or able to do yet.

In other cases, some members may feel at the end of a presentation that they were not helpful (because they shared experience, and didn’t give advice).  This perception may or may not be accurate from the perspective of the presenter.  Therefore, it’s always a reasonable question to ask at the end of any presentation: “Were we helpful to you?”

Bob Halperin