Josh Shipp: How to Challenge Your Audience (Without Being a Jerk)


Today’s post is from a speaker I worked with: Josh Shipp. Josh is an excellent speaker for kids and parents who has been highlighted on Oprah, CNN, Lifetime – and many other places. It was an honor to help him prep for his TEDx talk – AND – he brings to us today some insight into the process of bringing your voice to the stage in a way that both challenges your audience, and brings them along with you.  


— Sally

How to Challenge Your Audience (Without Being a Jerk)

It’s a tricky thing.

To challenge your audience without coming off as a jerk.

To rebuke. To reprimand. To call them on the carpet.

If you’re too harsh — they don’t listen.

If you’re too soft — they don’t change.

I’ve been experimenting with different ways to do this effectively and researching the mechanics of speakers who do this well.

Here’s the key: ME + WE + YOU

I’ll use my brand-spanking new TEDx talk as an example. A talk which Coach Sally greatly helped me clarify and strengthen — thanks, Sally!


ME: I have a problem.

Be humble. Be vulnerable. Be disarming.

See 01:10 “As a Dad, I’m guilty of this myself…”

WE: We have a problem.

Share stats. Societal tensions. Let them know the problem is common.

See 01:45 “How do we not make the same mistake…”

YOU: You have a problem.

Challenge them. Give them steps to improve and demand they do such.

See 06:38 “So when that kid in your life inevitably annoys you…”

Here’s the key: You want your message to include ALL three elements.

Most speakers unintentionally leave out one.

  • Me + You = Anecdotal.
  • Me + We = Cowardly.
  • We + You = Detached.
  • You + You = Jerkish.

Me + We + You = IMPACTFUL

Your message matters,

Josh Shipp