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Director’s Notes

What’s A Keynote Director Anyway? Why Your Public Speaking Coach Really Isn’t Helping You

March 22, 2024

Director's chair in against a cement wall.

In the world of public speaking, there's a role that remains largely behind the scenes, yet its impact on a presentation can rival that of a movie director's influence on a blockbuster film. This vital, though often underappreciated role, is that of a Keynote Director. But what does a keynote director do, exactly? And how does it differ from the work of a public speaking coach?

A public speaking coach might help you polish your delivery and ensure your slides are in order, but a keynote director goes much deeper. Much like a movie director dives into the script, setting, and actor capabilities to create an unforgettable cinema experience, a keynote director delves into the essence of your story, your presence, and the overall audience experience. I assist in transforming your speech into an immersive experience that captivates your audience from start to finish, much like Steven Spielberg has done time and time again with his Oscar-winning films.

The Clear Divide: Speaking Coach vs. Keynote Director

In my heart, I've always believed storytelling is an art, a deeply personal voyage that takes your audience on an unforgettable journey. A public speaking coach often feels like a compass, guiding you through the basics of navigation. They equip you with the skills needed to stand before an audience without cowering—breath control, posture, the mechanics of vocal delivery, and the construction of a persuasive argument. These are the tools and techniques that can make anyone a more competent speaker, a craftsman perhaps in the art of speaking.

Yet, when we plunge into the depths of truly magnetic, life-altering presentations, this is where a Keynote Director—a soul like me—steps into the light, painting a masterpiece with you at the center. It's not just about being a better speaker; it's about resonating on a frequency that moves the very spirit of your audience. I work in the realms of emotion and connection, considering every pause, every gesture, and every slide through the lens of your listener’s eyes and hearts. It's akin to composing a symphony where every note, from the whispers to the crescendos, is orchestrated to etch a lasting impression. This isn’t mere coaching; it’s alchemy. Converting the raw, untamed essence of your message into pure gold that shines in the minds of those who hear it, long after the curtains draw close.

Drawing parallels to the captivating world of Hollywood, envision an acting coach as a beacon of exploration. They stand by your side, illuminating the myriad pathways of characters and emotions. With them, you wander through the forests of different personas, picking up various skills like pebbles on a beach—projection, diction, understanding the subtle art of body language. It's a realm of endless possibilities, where you're free to discover and mold your inherent talent into something tangible.

However, when the spotlight hits and the cameras roll, the Director steps onto the scene with a vision as vast as the ocean. Here, the essence shifts dramatically. It's no longer just about exploration—it's about precision, about bringing a specific vision to life on stage or screen. The Director guides you through each scene with an eye for the minute details that the audience might never know but will feel deeply. They sculpt the raw energy of your performance, ensuring that each gesture, each line delivery, fits into the larger mosaic they're crafting. This isn't just refinement; it's transformation. It's the difference between knowing the path and walking the path, where the alchemy of storytelling meets the heartbeat of the audience. This, in its essence, is where real magic happens.

In the realm of Keynote Directing, the essence of our endeavor transcends mere presentation—it’s an intimate excavation of the soul. Here, we partner with speakers, podcast hosts, or authors on a book tour, guiding them as they dig deep to unearth the truest truths within their message. It's akin to discovering where bone meets sinewy tissue within their story, revealing the core of their narrative that resonates with undeniable authenticity. We venture together into this vulnerable exploration, encouraging them to stretch beyond their perceived limits—physically, vocally, energetically, visually, verbally. The choices become boundless, a plethora of paths unveiling before us, each inviting a different shade of expression, a unique tempo, a distinct resonance.

But our journey doesn’t end with discovery. No, it’s here that the meticulous craftsmanship begins. Decisions are made, not arbitrarily, but with a nuanced understanding of the stage image and the audience's frame of reference. It’s about sculpting an experience that not only captures but also captivates, ensuring that every movement, every inflection, every pause, and every glance is meticulously engineered to forge a connection that transcends the superficial, reaching into the depths of the audience’s psyche. This is the art of Keynote Directing—a meticulous alchemy where strategy meets soul, guiding speakers to not just tell a story, but to inhabit it, to live it so fully that the audience can’t help but be swept along in its tide.

Every word, each pause, and those knowing looks—they're all carefully shaped to create a bond that's more than just skin-deep, reaching into the very soul of those listening. It's what we call Keynote Directing. It's where planning meets passion, helping speakers not just share a story, but really live it, making the audience feel like they're right there, riding the wave with you.

But here's the rub—sometimes, when a public speaking coach steps in with the best intentions, they can accidentally squash what makes a speech truly resonate with people. It's like, in trying to perfect the delivery, they can strip away the speaker's unique flair. What once was lively and authentic might start to feel a bit robotic, like they're just going through the motions. This change from genuine to rehearsed can weaken the special bond that was being built with the audience. It's like adding a filter to a photo that you thought would enhance it but instead hides its true beauty. The real magic in a speech comes from those unscripted moments, the raw outbursts of emotion—that's what lights up a room. While a coach's advice is meant to refine, it can inadvertently dampen the spark that should have been ignited, reducing a potentially powerful impact to mere ashes of what was possible.

Audiences flock to events, tune into podcasts, and hit pause on their endless scrolling not just in pursuit of information, but in search of something more profound. They're looking for a spark, something to ignite their thoughts and feelings, to be entertained, yes, but also transformed in some unforeseeable way. It’s a delicate dance between the known and the unknown. That's where the artistry of directing comes into its own, meticulously sculpting the pacing, engagement, energy, and the emotional roller coaster that ensnares the audience, ensuring their energy and focus are unwaveringly fixed on the speaker. Directors, like maestros, conduct the ebbs and flows of emotion and knowledge, balancing the technical with the intangible, so that every participant leaves feeling not just informed, but deeply moved, altered in some small but significant way. It's this unseen choreography that turns a presentation into an experience, transforming passive listeners into active participants in a shared human journey.

And so, we find ourselves at the crossroads of decision and desire, teetering on the brink of the mundane and the magnificent. Do you yearn to merely fill the silence, or do you dream of crafting symphonies of speech that reverberate through the caverns of hearts and minds long after the applause fades? If your soul whispers (or perhaps screams) for the latter, then, my friend, our paths were meant to intertwine. Conjure the courage to cast aside the conventional, to leap into the labyrinth of genuine connection and unforgettable moments. Together, we can ignite that spark, fan those flames, and illuminate the world with your words. Dare to make your message not just heard, but felt. Dare to transform your audience not just outside, but profoundly, deeply, within. Dare to step into the arena with me—where magic happens, where voices shake the stars, and where true impact is forged. Your next chapter beckons, vibrant and visceral. Shall we dance amidst the flames?

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Hey babes!

I'm Mike and I'm here to blow your mind. My work is all about transformative storytelling, embodied narratives, and soulful truth-telling — where magic and healing alchemize, turning stages into sanctuaries of transformation.

Start here:

What's A Keynote Director Anyway? Why Your Public Speaking Coach Really Isn't Helping You

The Anatomy of a Powerful Keynote: Nine Questions Your Keynote Must Answer for Transformation

Mike Ganino, keynote director



My approach is all about transforming your relationship with your voice, body, and story. It's one thing to write about it - it's another to take a breath and speak the words out loud.

Ready for your close-up?

You don’t need a speaking coach, a formula, or to follow someone else’s steps. You need feedback about how the audience experiences your ideas, your presence, your story, and your speech. 

That’s what a keynote director does.

"Mike helped me create the signature keynote I'd been dreaming of giving.  He was so skillful, artful, creative in helping me create a #mikedropmoment."

“He should have charged me 5x as much because the VALUE I received was so astounding!”

“Working with Mike made me more compelling, more motivational, more relatable, and more myself”


— Erin King, Bestselling Author & Top-Ranked Keynote Speaker

— Tiffany Lanier, Change and wellbeing keynote speaker

— Laura Gassner Otting, bestselling author and TEDx speaker


A speaking coach can help you get comfortable.

Only a Keynote Director can help you become a legend.

Your big ideas deserve an EPIC performance. If you’re ready to take your story from alright to epic, let’s chat.