Three Reasons to Hire a Presentation Coach
by Kelly Vandever
Reese came to me thinking he wanted to hire me to coach him.
“I get nervous when I stand up to speak.”
“Tell me about the kinds of presentations you do.”
“Well I mostly talk with potential clients – one or two people at a time – and I have no problem with that. But when I’m at a networking event and have to stand up in front of 20 people to say what I do, I get really nervous.”
“Reese, you could spend a lot of money with me, but what you really need is to join a Toastmasters club. Joining a Toastmasters club will give you weekly opportunities to stand up in front of a group of people in a safe and supportive environment, and that will be cheaper and more effective for you than hiring me.”
Reese was someone that it didn’t make sense to hire me. So for whom would it make sense to hire me or another presentation coach?
Executives with an Important Message Who Need To Hear the Unbridled Truth
“So Kelly, what do you do when you’re not acting in community theater?” Mary and I were in the same community theater cast but really didn’t know each other – hence the question.
I explained that I helped people give better business presentations.
“Geez. You should have been there to help our exec!”
Mary went on to tell me about a company executive who was addressing a gathering of several hundred employees.
“She does dressage, you know, with horses, where they steer the animal with leg movements rather than of a bridle,” said Mary. “And she was telling us how managing a company is like riding dressage. The least little movements can change the entire direction… and I keep thinking, ‘If we – the company’s employees – are the horse in this analogy, then who’s the horse’s rear end?’”
One of the challenges of being an executive is getting people to be straightforward with you. After all, the exec is the boss – they have a lot of power over employees. Even well intentioned employees will hesitate to tell the boss what they need to hear.
A presentation coach should be that person willing to tell the boss what they need to hear. A good presentation coach will tell the boss, “You don’t want to use the dressage story and here’s why.” A good coach would have been able to say to that executive that the dressage example may work well with a group of executives…but it won’t go over well with the troops.
If your message is important, get an outside coach who is willing to tell you the unbridled truth (and yes, the pun is intended ;0).
Outsider / Non-Expert Perspective
I was reviewing the presentation materials of an IT organization who provided their associates with a set of PowerPoint slides that they could use to deliver presentations to small business owners.
The problem was, the presentation was riddled with IT terminology that small business might interpret to mean something else. In fact, I did this little video to demonstrate to the IT organization how the terms they used might mean something different to their small business audiences.
If you need to address an audience who doesn’t share your expertise, a presentation coach can be a huge help.
Where colleagues might gloss over an accepted industry term, a presentation coach can stop you and say, “What does that mean to us regular folks?” The presentation coach can help you ensure that you’re communicating your message in a way that others can understand.
Coach’s Experience Needed to Take It Up a Notch
I mentioned Toastmasters above. I’ve been a member of Toastmasters since 2001 and have earned the Distinguished Toastmasters designation through the organization. I have a ton of respect for Toastmasters. It’s a great place to get peer coaching and peer coaching can be very helpful. Everyone has eyes and ears and thus they can provide opinions that can help us learn.
But at some point, that helpfulness can top out.
In my original Toastmasters club, I stopped getting helpful feedback. When evaluating my speeches, my fellow club members would say something like, “Kelly – that speech was so good. I can’t think of anything to make it better.” It was nice to have such accolades but that didn’t help me grow. I was a good speaker and had won dozens of speech contests. But I was convinced I could still get better. Eventually I found an advanced Toastmasters club where I found more seasoned speakers and coaches to help me continue to improve.
When you’re a good speaker, the average person doesn’t know what to tell you to help you take your presentation up a notch. That’s when a coach can help.
I’ve studied the art and science of speaking and was named the top speech coach in the state of Georgia by Toastmasters International. I’ve read dozens of books and listened to hundreds of hours of presentations. I can recommend changes and nuisances to the spoken word that the average person wouldn’t know but that make a difference in connecting with an audiences and more persuasively and authentically communicating your message. When you want to expand beyond your current level of accomplishment, you need to find someone who’s been there before you and who can tell you things you don’t already know.
Do YOU Need a Presentation Coach?
Reese is a good guy and Toastmasters helped him get past his nervousness. He didn’t need to hire a coach.
How about you?
Do you need someone to tell you what your staff won’t?
Do you need an outsider to help ensure your message gets across?
Do you know you can get even better but need someone who can show you how?
Then find a presentation coach today!
I would love to help! You can reach me at Kelly . Vandever @ Speaking Practically . com or by phone 770-597-1108.
Kelly Vandever is a leadership and communications expert who helps leaders and organizations thrive in today’s attention-deficit, entertain-me-now, wait-while-I-post-that-on-Facebook world. Connect with Kelly and discover how opening up and speaking practically can bring you better business results.
Contact Kelly by phone at 770-597-1108, email her or tweet her @KellyVandever.