“An absolute eye-opener”
ESTHER DINGEMANS is the director of the Mukwege Foundation, which works to end the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war – efforts for which its special adviser Dr Denis Mukwege was awarded a Nobel Peace Prize in 2018. I coached her for her presentation at the closing plenary of the 2018 International Fundraising Conference.
ESTHER: “I am very grateful to Deborah for the coaching she provided me ahead of a public speaking engagement at large and important event.
“From the first time we spoke, she made me feel really comfortable and self-confident and I knew that what could have been a quite stressful preparation process, could actually be a pleasant one. From the beginning Deborah was very empathetic not just with me but also with the topic of the speech, which helped immensely in getting very punctual feedback and insightful comments on the draft of the speech.
“Above all, she taught me that if I want to get my message across, the best thing is to be myself and her advice on ‘how to be oneself’ in front of a large audience was an absolute eye-opener.
“Deborah took my capacity to speak in public to the next level and I will definitely continue to use the acquired skills in the future.”
“An objective, tough, and compassionate critic who wanted me to succeed in getting my story across.”
GRANT DAWSON is the Principal Legal Officer of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW). Previously, he was a Legal Officer of the UN International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia and an Assistant Attorney General. I coached him on this talk at Hague Talks on how best to support the victims of war.
GRANT: "Deborah challenged me to be better than I thought I could be. When I started working with Deborah, I had my entire talk planned from beginning to end. I had expected to get a few small tips from her to hone what I wanted to say and the message that I wanted to deliver. However, from the very beginning, she challenged me and my message, drilling down to my core assumptions and questioning things I had taken for granted for a long time. In the end, I ended up jettisoning almost my entire plan and fashioning a new one, with the expert assistance of Deborah.
"She was an objective, tough, and compassionate critic who wanted me to succeed in getting my story across to the audience. She offered both substantive advice and also nuts and bolts practical tips on how to address an audience for maximum impact. She was 100% focused on success; and, although she was always respectful of my feelings, she was not afraid to tell me when something was working and when it wasn't. Through many hours of telephone and Skype calls, she helped me turn a mediocre talk into something I hope was a little better, and I am very grateful to her for that."
“Deborah taught me the difference between pulling an audience in and pushing a message out.”
MARIA ANNE VAN DIJK is head of Environmental & Social Risk Advisory and Monitoring at ABN AMRO – but she prefers to label herself a 'corporate activist'. Responsible for the bank’s worldwide sustainability policy and human rights programme, she believes banks can and should contribute to a better world. For TEDx Rotterdam, I coached Maria Anna for her talk How a label can change your world.
MARIA ANNE: "I was honoured when invited to do a TEDx talk. A friend recommended Deborah. When I met her, I was immediately happy with her approach: very personal, highly interested, funny, serious and straightforward. She coached me, while leaving me all the space I needed to tell my story, but she really helped me to develop and deliver it better.
"When we started, she drew a roadmap that ended on the day I had to do the speech. The roadmap gave me a perfect hand hold and planning. And it pulled out the discipline I needed during the weeks of preparation.
"Deborah has the gift to be very involved without being too prominent. She never takes over, but she gives you all the confidence and support you need. She has a very subtle way of expressing herself and takes care that everything is perfect until the last detail. She is capable of giving feedback both on the content of a speech and on the performance.
"Deborah taught me the difference between pulling an audience in and pushing a message out.I would recommend her to anybody who is looking for someone special to support preparing ‘the speech of your life’."
"The best feedback on how to structure the talk, the best partner in preparing for the talk."
KENNETH LUONGO is the President of the Partnership for Global Security. He co-chairs the international Fissile Materials Working Group and is a member of the Nuclear Security Governance Experts Group. He previously served as a senior adviser for non-proliferation policy to the US Energy Secretary Hazel O’Leary. For TEDxHagueAcademy Secure Societies (see Projects) I coached Kenneth on his talk Solving 21st century security challenges.
KENNETH: "When I heard I would be assigned a TEDx coach for my talk, I feared the worst. But, with Deborah I got the best. The best feedback on how to structure the talk, the best partner in preparing the for the talk, and the best sounding board for stories that are the necessary illustrations of your key ideas, concepts, and points.
"She listens carefully and is able to extract the essence of what you really want to communicate, not just what you are used to communicating. Then she, in her friendly and focused way, works with you to build a talk that really connects with the target audience. I'm glad I met her and would look forward to any future opportunity to work with her again."
“Inspirational support and insightful guidance.”
LOUIS GENTILE is the Director of Strategy and Innovation and Head of the International Development Law Organization (IDLO) Branch Office in The Hague. During a long career in human rights with the UN, he served in conflict and post-conflict countries including Bosnia-Herzegovina and East Timor. He has been a guest lecturer for the LLM programs of Oxford and Cambridge Universities and the London School of Economics. For HagueTalks in September 2014, I coached Louis for his talk calling for action on children's rights.
LOUIS: “I would like to thank Deborah from the bottom of my heart for the inspirational support and insightful guidance that she provided for my participation in the 2014 Hague Talks. Although I have decades of public speaking experience, I had no idea how much I could benefit from a professional’s assistance in preparing a talk until I encountered Deborah.
“Her advice and feel for what would work best for the audience and the manner in which she delivered that advice were the perfect mix. Her professionalism in helping the other speakers and I to prepare was only exceeded by her infectious enthusiasm. I really hope that we’ll have other opportunities to work together in the future.”
“From the moment I met Deborah, I felt completely confident.”
ESTHER VAN DER WOERDT is a Senior Programme Officer at UNICEF Netherlands. Her insightful talk at We the people: the United Nations at 70 at the Peace Palace in The Hague drew on years of experience managing humanitarian assistance around the world for organisations including WHO, WFP, CORDAID and MSF.
ESTHER: “From the very first moment I met Deborah, I felt completely confident that she would help me to make the talk I had been asked to do a success. And needless to say, I was not disappointed. Thanks to her strong people skills, I felt immediately at ease and comfortable with her, free to express my doubts and anguishes with regard to the subject and quality of my speech.
“Deborah helped me to create a structure in the hodgepodge of stories and ideas, and explained to me how to set the right tone, and use my body language to help the messages that I wanted to convey come across. And owing to her clear, calm and friendly coaching and good advice, I managed to turn my speech into something that I felt proud of.
“We did not have a lot of time to prepare but Deborah was very accommodating, and made herself available at whatever time she could as she knew this was important to me. The ‘click’ we had at the personal level made the collaboration even easier, and turned this whole ’speaking burden’ into a fun and lovely adventure, that I knew I was going to succeed, because she was there.”
"Deborah made organizing my thoughts an easy process."
KHALID ALBAIH is a Sudanese political cartoonist living in Doha, Qatar. His work rose to prominance during the Arab Spring protests, when it was shared online across the Arab world and appeared stencilled on the walls of Cairo, Beirut and Sana’a. Since then Khalid has received widespread international media coverage. I coached him for his talk explaining his response to the Charlie Hebdo attack.
KHALID: "Working with Deborah is great! She made organizing my thoughts an easy process and helped me unlock doors within my mind on how to approach people and explain my work and what I am trying to do, when the only way I knew how to do that was through my pen and pad."
"Deborah was steadfast, patient, available, insightful and masterful."
VITHIKA YADAV is a human rights professional named as one of the world's top 99 foreign policy leaders aged under 33 in 2012. For TEDxHagueAcademy on Peace and Justice (see Projects), I coached Vithika for her talk Stop sexual violence in India - talk about sex.
VITHIKA: "Deborah is an amazing speaker coach, who is warm, professional and engaging. During my trainings, she walked me through the process, step by step, teaching me the skills I needed to succeed as a speaker. She was steadfast, patient, available, insightful and masterful. I can for sure say that her expert guidance can activate and enhance the skills of novices and experienced speakers alike. She has a real knack for making people feel comfortable and well prepared.
"Here is a big thank you for being my speaker coach, for taking the time to give an honest opinion of my talk. You showed me how one word or phrase at the right place can influence the outcome of a talk and how my body language could enhance my talk. I very much appreciate the gift of your expertise. You are an important reason why I delivered the way I delivered my talk that day."
“Skillful, spontaneous and inspirational”
JIEYU CHEN is coordinator of RNW Media’s Love Matters China at, a website about sexuality that reaches millions of young people in China. I coached her for her talk (in Chinese!) at TEDxLujiazu in Shanghai on the importance of girls learning about their bodies. My task was to build Jieyu’s confidence and help her connect with the audience.
JIEYU: “A TEDx talk could be nerve-wracking, as the audience might already have high expectations even before the speaker starts talking. So I was under pressure when I realized that I would be giving a TEDx talk. Deborah is a reassuring and supportive coach who is very good at bringing calm and confidence.
“Deborah is also a skillful, spontaneous and inspirational speech coach. Under her guidance, I was able to find the speech style that works best for me. I became more comfortable being myself while delivering the speech, rather than merely putting on a performance. She helped me to better express my emotion and passion in the talk. This enabled me to be more connected with my audience during the talk.”
“Deborah lets you excel and at the same time be yourself.”
NIELS SCHENK is the Chief Technology Officer at BioBTX, a pioneering company that produces the chemicals needed to for the plastics industry from non-food biomass like wood instead of from fossil fuels. I was commissioned by Rabobank to coach Niels for his pitch at the Agri meets Chemicals conference 2015, mounted jointly with Deloitte (read more in Projects).
NIELS: “Working with Deborah was a great and enlightening experience. She lets you excel and at the same time be yourself. And the result is that your presentation will be both authentic and professional.
“Being authentic is very important for me; I don't want be an actor, or try to perform like Steve Jobs. I want to tell my story and I want to tell it because I am passionate about biobased chemicals (really). Deborah helped me to do just that. She helped me to tell my story in the most authentic way. I am very grateful that I was able to work with Deborah and I hope there'll be a future opportunity to learn from her again.”
“Deborah’s riveting training enabled us to create a pitch that targets the heart.”
RNW MEDIA is an international media organisation for social change, based in Hilversum. I was commissioned to provide workshops on pitching for the whole organisation – read more in Projects. Here are some testimonials from the coordinators and project managers.
FEMKE BLICKMAN, Internal Communication Specialist:
"Taking Deborah on board means that you’re not only hiring a highly-skilled trainer, but also an advisor, someone who thinks along the whole process. She only goes for an A+, and inspires her participants to do the same. She gently supports everybody to get the most out of the pitch.
"She sets the bar high, adapts the training to the experience and skills of the participants, and takes them to the highest level."
MART KOK, Project Manager for International Justice:
“Deborah’s riveting training enabled us to create a pitch that targets the heart.”
NICOLIEN DEN BOER, Project Manager for Huna TV:
“Deborah was very skilled in gently building my confidence in public speaking. She also punctured through old negative patterns that made my fellow course participants and me initially hesitant in speaking in front of a crowd. We want more of Deborah’s time!”
GOOF VAN DE WINKEL, RNTC Training Coordinator:
"Already in the preparation of the training, Deborah shows her expertise. She is open, helpful, with a good feeling for the needs of the organization, flexible, positive, caring."
ARNE VAN ELK, Web Specialist:
"Deborah has what it takes to be a trainer: she really knows her stuff and she makes sure that participants feel welcome no matter what level they have."
INGRID DE BEER is co-organiser of HagueTalks and TEDxHagueAcademy, for which I coached the speakers. She is Project Manager at Hague Project Peace and Justice, and a communication advisor to the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
INGRID: “Working with Deborah is a blessing. She coached seven persons, male and female, experienced and inexperienced, from different ages, countries and backgrounds to deliver the talk of their lives in two months. Quite a challenge, but not for Deborah.
"Friendly but determined, she managed to make speakers feel confident and connect to the audience in a genuine and inspiring way. The wonderful results can be seen at HagueTalks.com. I would definitely recommend Deborah."
“Deborah enabled me to give life to my words.”
AMBASSADOR GRACE ASIRWATHAM was Deputy Director General of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW). OPCW won the Nobel peace prize in 2013. For Hague Talks, Women, Peace and Security, I coached her for her talk about global action on chemical weapons.
GRACE: "I have been a diplomat for 30 years, and it is a profession in which we tend to deliver speeches in a rather formal manner. The opportunity to participate in Hague Talks was anything but formal. I am very grateful to Deborah Abrahams for helping me prepare for this event. Her counsel enabled me to give life to my words, and engage with the audience in a conversational way. I thank her for her support."
“I learned a new skill – something I can use for the rest of my life.”
CARMEN MÓNICO survived a perilous journey to the US to escape conflict-torn El Salvador in the 1980s. She went on to become a Senior Consultant for the World Bank’s Social Development Department, and is currently an assistant professor at Elon University, North Carolina. For HagueTalks in September 2014, I coached Carmen for her talk on seeing the people behind the statistics on Central American migration.
CARMEN: “I have a lot of experience in presenting my personal testimony on human rights violations in El Salvador. I was confident I could do it easily. I was proven wrong. Deborah showed me the difference between testimonial as a professional and a testimonial from the heart. With her, I was able to revisit a part of my life fleeing violence as a refugee, even though it was painful.
“Deborah’s encouragement, kindness, and persistence kept me going, even when I felt it was too much to handle emotionally. I wanted to convey the message I delivered in a way that it would be authentic, yet effective. Deborah helped me do it. I felt supported, I felt motivated to do it because of her. She helped me get out of my academic mindset, yet while delivering my story I could still deliver the facts.
“I learned a new skill with Deborah. She gave me something that I can use for the rest of my life (and believe me I will). She is a real professional at what she does. I felt honoured to be working with her. I highly recommend her work to any organizer wanting the kind of impact that I created among those attending the HagueTalks.”
“An enduring sense of care and integrity even when times are tough. She is exceptional.”
TAREK ALSALEH is the founder of the NGO Bidna Capoeira, which teaches capoeira to children who are the victims of conflict in the Middle East. For HagueTalks in September 2014, I coached Tarek for his talk on using capoeira to break cycles of violence.
TAREK: “Deborah's value of self-expression cannot be understated. Finding a method that promotes self-awareness, honesty and so much more, that is so readily available and fun is a masterstroke. When you see someone dedicated to helping others, trust comes instinctively. We worked intensively, remotely over Skype and then in person, so from first-hand observation I witnessed her enduring sense of care and integrity, even when times are tough. She is exceptional.”
“More persuasive force”
ROBERT ZWIJNENBERG is a philosopher, Professor of Art and Science interactions at Leiden University, and director of the The Arts and Genomics Centre. For HagueTalks in September 2014, I coached Robert for his talk on how art can shape our understanding of human rights.
ROBERT: “Deborah challenged me to rephrase my thoughts in language more open to a general public. She advised me on the structure and composition of my talk to give my train of arguments a more persuasive force.
“Deborah is a very good listener, able to unravel complicated thoughts into more open suggestions. How to move, how to gesture, how to use my voice – Deborah carefully guided me into the right direction.
“Deborah showed a genuine and enthusiastic interest in my talk. Her coaching made me more confident about my place in the event and helped me connect to the public more easily. It was very pleasant and productive working with her and she helped me immensely to improve my presentation.”
"She has a talent for pulling out the best in people."
KARIN ARTS is a professor of International Law and Development at the International Institute of Social Studies, Erasmus University Rotterdam. In 2013 she co-created the KidsRights Index, a global ranking to chart the status of children’s rights worldwide. For HagueTalks in September 2014, I coached Karin for her talk about hard data on children’s rights.
KARIN: “For me, working with a speakers coach was one of the attractive aspects of participating in the HagueTalks. My expectations were certainly met in working with Deborah. Her enthusiasm is contagious and she has a great feel for the essential core of a message. Flavoured with a good dose of humour, her style of working with people one-to-one is very effective. I think she has a special talent for pulling out the best in many people.
“Deborah and I worked together really efficiently on preparing for HagueTalks. As time was short, we discussed the storyline over Skype first. I then prepared a written text on which Deborah gave me highly useful feedback. Two days before the HagueTalks event we met in person for a personal rehearsal session. Overall I am quite pleased with the result. I received many positive reactions on my HagueTalk and have learned a few things that I will apply in future public appearances.”
“Deborah is more than a coach, she is a master at what she does.”
DANIEL ARZOLA is a Venezuelan ‘artivist’ whose online campaign against homophobia I’m not a Joke went viral in thirty countries. His digital art drew praise from Madonna, was commissioned by the It Gets Better project, and led to an invitation to speak at the Senate of Argentina – the first Latin American country to recognise LGBT rights. I coached Daniel on his talk for RNW’s Celebrating Freedom Summit during Amsterdam Gay Pride 2014 (see Projects).
DANIEL: "Deborah has the power to make you become an explorer of yourself. Deborah will help you find your story and make it unforgettable. Suddenly you stop using words and start using emotions, and that is a universal language.
"Deborah is more than a coach, she is a master at what she does. From the first meeting on Skype I noticed that it was not a sermon, but a passion that believed in me. The road of communication is a maze, but Deborah helped me quickly go on, and I never got lost. As my first time speaking English in public, the experience that could have been a disaster was one of the best moments of my life."
“Precise, thoughtful, helpful and assertive in her feedback … Deborah has the vision of an eagle.”
ANTÓN CASTELLANOS USIGLI is a consultant, blogger and activist. He is the founder of the Youth Initiative of the World Association for Sexual Health, and also sits on the association’s Advisory Board. Antón is currently completing a Global Health Practicum at the World Health Organisation in the Philippines as part of a Masters in Public Health at Columbia University, New York City. I coached Antón on his talk for RNW’s Celebrating Freedom Summit during Amsterdam Gay Pride 2014.
ANTON: "Back when I was 19 years old, I started speaking at sexology congresses. After seven years, I had spoken at various international and national conferences, so I considered myself to be an experienced speaker, with few things to learn. But this idea changed when I met Deborah...
"When we talked for the first time, I realized she did not speak for speaking’s sake; whenever she spoke she had a clear point to make. She is precise, thoughtful, helpful and assertive in her feedback. She will never hesitate to tell you what is wrong in the process of helping you to develop your speech.
"Deborah has the vision of a great eagle; no need to tell her explicitly what your weaknesses and strengths are, she will spot them, and then, she will act as a surgeon. She will make incisions in every part of the process, watching over every detail and thinking how to maximize both your speech and your potential as a speaker.
"However, this precision and attention to detail that she has do not imply that working with her will be solemn or boring. This is something amazing about her: she makes the process fun! For my next important talk, I already know that I will ask for her coaching again!"
“I now feel I have a life skill.”
MELISSA MUTHONI runs a helpline on sexual and reproductive health at the Trust for Indigenous Culture and Health in Kenya. She is soon to launch Africa’s first transgender hotline. I coached Melissa on her talk for RNW’s Celebrating Freedom Summit during Amsterdam Gay Pride 2014 (see Projects).
MELISSA: "I began the coaching process not believing I could deliver a speech without reading it. I took all my anxieties to Deborah and over a period of three months I managed to pull off saying exactly what I needed to say, and come off cool and confident. Without this coaching, it would have not been possible. When I look at my speech now, I see and feel every nuance of the learning that Deborah’s coaching process takes into consideration.
"Skype was our main classroom and we scheduled several calls and worked with a tight work plan. I would not have articulated my thoughts as I did without the process of drafting and redrafting my ideas, looking at the language, grammar and expressions, ensuring I was thinking all the while about my audience, what I was trying to say and why, and practice, practice, practice.
"I now feel I have a life skill that can help me ensure that I really think about my future talks. I was amazed how many people watched the clip and wrote me out of the blue just because I made an impression on them. There is a power in being able to articulate and communicate our ideas, and Deborah has a skill to ensure that it comes to light when one is on stage."
“Our success could never have been achieved without her genuine and professional help.”
GENG LE is the founder of Danlan, China’s first and biggest gay website. In 2012, he launched Blued, a gay dating app with six million users that supports the fight against HIV/AIDS by promoting condom use and safe sex. I coached Geng Le and his colleague LING XU on their talk for RNW’s Celebrating Freedom Summit during Amsterdam Gay Pride 2014 (see Projects).
LING XU: "The most memorable aspect of the Gay Pride journey to the Netherlands is our collaboration with Deborah. At first I struggled with my English and lacked confidence. And then she encouraged us a lot and guided us through the whole process of drafting, editing the speech and multiple rehearsals. There were tens of Skype talks before we came to the Netherlands. Our final success at the Celebrate Freedom Summit could never have been achieved without her genuine and professional help."
“Without Deborah's support and encouragement, I would not have been able to deliver a speech in English.”
AH QIANG is the founder and head of PFLAG China, an organisation of parents, families, friends, and allies of people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender. I coached Daniel on his talk for RNW’s Celebrating Freedom Summit during Amsterdam Gay Pride 2014 (see Projects).
AH QIANG: “Had it not been for Deborah's support and encouragement, I would not have been able to deliver a speech in English on the stage.
“She carefully helped me revise my speech, discussed with me on choice of words, and instructed me on facial expressions and gestures. Thanks to her help, I eventually did a good job, which also makes me more confident in myself. I am also very much touched by her dedication to her work.
“When watching my speech video at home, I can hardly believe that the person giving the speech was actually me.”
“She can sense the differences in our ways of thinking and graciously share her suggestions with me.”
MICHAEL LIU heads a team representing victims at the Cambodia Tribunal (ECCC), and lectures on international humanitarian law at the Royal University of Law and Economics in Phnom Penh. For TEDxHagueAcademy (see Projects) I coached Michael for his talk on why the Chinese should be involved with international justice - it featured as talk of the day on the TEDx blog.
MICHAEL: “I was first amazed by how ‘multi-functional’ Deborah was when working with her on my TEDx talk. She gave me some solid advice on my draft speech, then helped me polishing the language and ultimately helped on delivering my speech. All of which greatly contributed my final success!
“I should also point out that Deborah is very inter-culturally mature. I never felt oppressed when working with her, on the contrary, she can sense the differences in our ways of thinking and graciously share her suggestions with me. This makes me very comfortable with my own speech and style while not neglecting the perspective of my global audience.”
“What struck me the most was Deborah's passion to help you make the talk the best it can be.”
Filmmaker FAISAL ATTRACHE emigrated from Syria to the United States as a child. His recent documentary looks at the lives of Syrian refugees in Jordan. For TEDxHagueAcademy (see Projects) I coached him on his talk titled Barbers and Barriers: Connections in a Syrian refugee camp.
FAISAL: “I had the privilege of being coached by Deborah. We worked both over Skype and in person for a couple weeks. What struck me the most was Deborah's passion to help you make the talk the best it can be. I really felt like she cared about me and what I was saying, and it always felt like I was her main focus even though she had eight other speakers to train as well!
“She really understood the experience from my point of view and I was surprised that instead of insisting on practice or memorization some days she would tell me to rest and relax. It was of course just what I needed and in the end helped make the talk better. I highly recommend working with Deborah, she's tons of fun!”
“Deborah’s coaching was professional, patient, understanding, sympathetic, human.”
IDUVINA HERNANDEZ is a journalist and human rights activist who fought for justice in Guatemala during the country's 36 years of armed conflict. For TEDxHagueAcademy (see Projects) I coached her for her talk titled Genocide – the struggle for justice in Guatemala.
IDUVINA: “I think I have never, never in my life had an awesome experience like that. Your coaching was professional, patient, understanding, sympathetic, human. I believe that without your wise guidance I would not have been able to overcome the challenge posed to be a TEDx speaker. Especially considering the short time available to achieve the goal of preparing myself as a speaker in a language that is difficult to me.”
“I am pleased to recommend Deborah’s supreme professionalism and skills for anyone seeking a speaking coach par excellence.”
Lawyer HAUWA IBRAHAIM is best known for her successful defence of Amina Lawal and Safiya Hussain, Northern Nigerian women sentenced to death by stoning for adultery. For TEDxHagueAcademy (see Projects) I coached her for her talk on Humanising Shariah.
HAUWA: “Having worked with Deborah Abrahams the past months, I am excited for her to have the opportunity to mentor many more. I am particularly on board with Deborah’s competences on understanding cultural sensitivity, intercultural communication, consensus building, and dealing with uncertainty.
"I believe Deborah will do a fabulous job as she works on similar projects and with diverse persons in the future. For these reasons, I am pleased to recommend the supreme professionalism and skills of Deborah Abrahams for anyone seeking a speaking coach par excellence."
“Deborah knows how to get best out of people.”
ZAHRA SHAH is an MA International Relations student at Leiden University and works in a start-up company in Amsterdam. She has interned at OPCW in The Hague and the Gender Unit at UNRWA in Amman. I coached her for her Hague Talk at We the people: the United Nations at 70 at the Peace Palace in The Hague, criticising the UN’s failure to keep abreast of technology.
ZAHRA: "Deborah was a great pleasure to work with. She kept me calm and taught me how to take hold of my nerves – something that always hinders my performance. As this was my first Hague Talks I thought I would have to be formal and proper, but Deborah encouraged me to be myself and not adopt any other type of persona. This allowed me to write and speak in an original way that I would have initially been hesitant to do. She really knows how to get the best out of people and make you feel comfortable; but above all, her enthusiasm and energy is infectious and gives you the motivation to deliver an excellent speech."
“Insightful, concrete and inspiring”
DIEGO SALAMA is currently studying for an MA in International Relations at Leiden University and an LL.M in Globalization and Law at Maastricht University. He is a Communications Officer for the United Nations University (UNU-MERIT) and writes international affairs columns for national dailies in his native Bolivia. I coached him for his incisive talk on UN bureaucracy at We the people: the United Nations at 70 at the Peace Palace in The Hague.
DIEGO: “My time working with Deborah taught me a great deal about public speaking. Her coaching style is insightful, concrete and inspiring. She took an extraordinary amount of time to read my drafts, advise me on the delivery and encourage me to give the best speech I could. She is professional, kind and has a great sense of humor. I will take into account the lessons learned from her in in all speeches I give in the future."