Public speaking is the fastest way to connect with and gain new clients. The level of trust that you can develop with someone during a live presentation trumps any number of other ways we try to communicate in business. Yes, there are some advantages to videos, blogs and social media posts in terms of reaching more people in distant places. However those electronic means of communications don't capture the authenticity of having someone standing in front of you and addressing an audience live. When you have a live speech, people in the audience gain an immediate sense of whether they connect with you at a gut level. They sense they know you much better than if they were seeing you in some remote way. So if a business is seeking to gain lots of new clients quickly (especially a nascient business), public speaking should be high on the list of priorities.
It takes more than just getting up in front of a group to speak. Lots of people live under the impression that because they know how to talk, and because they know about their topic and their product or service, they can just start talking and their expertise will naturally come across. What I've observed all too often is that many people who get up in an effort to make a good presentation deliver something that's not sharp, may be confusing and ultimately doesn;t give them the client-attraction results they seek.
A great public speaking coach can be crucial in making the difference, in taking what would be an average presentation and helping a speaker make it memorable. It may be the difference between making sales or not. That isn't a negative reflection on the entrepreneur, executive or salesperson who wants to make the presentation. After all, the greatest of athletes have relied on coaches. Jordan Spieth may have set the golf world on fire but he still relies on a coach to help him with both his technique and mindset, as well as also relying on a caddy to help keep things flowing.
You would think someone of his caliber would be able to keep himself at a high degree of success, study videos and make adjustmentson his own. Yet he understands that watching oneself is markedly different from having someone with an objective outside perspective advise on what needs to be done. Hence, a coach.
The business world is filled with coaches in various areas, whether mindset, social media, image consultants and so on. Making effective presentations is no exception and can help anyone in business stand out, be seen as more of a leader, earn promotions and special assignments and even lead to enjoying the process a lot more.
A public speaking coach is a valuable investment in a number of ways. When it comes to speaking it's wise to have an expert take a good look at your tools and strengths, and to cast a critical eye at the areas you can improve or those of which you're not taking advantage.
Each of us brings a unique array of skills, experience and knowledge to the table. A great coach will see what those are and help hone those, much in the same way a great director brings out the best performance of an actor. Yes, someone like Tom Hanks may be incredibly talented, but he relies on people like Steven Spielberg or Ron Howard to help interpret a script, bring out more creative choices and help make the performace memorable and often Oscar-worthy.
A cookie-cutter approach to speaking, whether it's attending a big group seminar where you just watch a couple of speakers and try to imitate them, or watching a video and trying to follow it, won't make the most of those unique skills and your unique message.
Knowing your strengths can help you use those to your full advantage when it comes to sharing your message with others. You'll know them better if you get them gauged through another set of eyes.
A lot of people who give presentations leave the event convinced they are doing well because people in the audience have come up to shake hands and said "great job." Yet speakers would be well-served to remember that audiences are generally conditioned to be polite, to be grateful. They may want to shake hands just to try and get close to the speaker just in hopes of some future business. People in the audience who have some fear of public speaking may simply be impressed that the speaker kept cool and collected, but that doesn't mean the speech itself was the most effective it could have been.
A great speaking coach will be able to serve you in many ways, and help develop lots of different areas that weave together for a speaker's success. That includes areas such as:
the message to be shared and how to craft it in the most audience-attracting and compelling way
developing the speaker's "Big Why" story (the kind that resonates with audience members at a gut level)
understanding how to find grabbers that get an audience focused on the speaker right from the start
developing a strategy around taking questions from the stage that serves the speaker's needs best
knowing whether it's important to establish credibility and ways to do that without seeming to brag or just spewing a list of experience, education and client names
weaving in client experiences to use as teaching moments so as to illustrate points
evaluating how and when to "seed" certain programs, products or services to be able to sell even in non-selling situations
reverse-engineering speeches so that the call-to-action comes naturally as a result of the speech rather than how so many approach things: having the speech and then shifting to the sell
helping craft an offer that's commensurate with the level of trust established with audience members at that point
understanding unique things about stage positioning that are counter-intuitive and result in more people being powerfully conected with the speaker
working on presentation skills such as posture, voice projection and clarity, stage presence
gaining specific usable tools to overcome anxiety and fear of public speaking (too many coaches try to use one approach to address fears, as if all fears are equal and due to the same reasons)
assessing how speaking weaves into the overall business goals so all the planning and work makes effective use of time and other resources
developing effective follow-up strategies
So how can you tell whether a public speaking coach would help you?
You can take a look at yourself in a variety of areas and assess yourself in as objective a way as possible. Asking a friend may not be fruitful as the friend may feel compelled to minimize issues and let you know how great you are doing. Certainly you want a ccoach to be positive and supportive, but able to convey areas for improvement. Since a coach will be less attached than a personal friend, the coach will be able to convey things more dispassionately and helpfully.
Becoming a powerful speaker means finding your own best way to convey ideas in a manner that both informs and motivates. If you think a speech is about informing people, that's the first clue you could use a great public speaking coach. People tend to have more than enough information, so in general, adding more does nothing to change the equation. They need someone who can connect at the gut and inspire or aggravate them to change.
How well do you know the story of your "Big Why," the reason you (and your company) do what you do and are motivated enough to help them that they would want you on their team? Too many speakers tell a story that may be interesting but doesn't trigger the gut emotional connection that moves people deep into the know, like and trust factor.
When it comes to your area of emphasis, what is your experience and understanding that you can share with others? Do you have specific references and testimonials that support your points? The more complete your awareness of these and the more organized the information, the more it can be honed so you present it in the most useful way. You don't need to be the top-in-the-field expert on a particular subject to be able to help others, but what you share needs to convey that you understand the subject sufficiently to support your point of view. A great coach can help you dig for those areas and play devil's advocate to keep you on your game.
How are your speaking presentation skills? It is important here not to confuse being comfortable speaking in front of a group of colleagues with an being similarly comfortable speaking in front of a more general audience. I've heard from people that after some time at networking groups they have become more comfortable with speaking. Part of that can be attributed to a sense of familiarity with the people, having gotten to know them. It does not always mean the same degree of comfort speaking before an unknown crowd. To develop a greater ease, some local speaking engagements can help you start experiencing that some more. Practicing with a speaking coach who can serve as a director can help you make the transition.
Is your presentation style engaging or flat? Is your vocal delivery dynamic, a little sing-song or monotone? Do you have an inflection that ends every sentence powerfully or does your inflection go up, which can undercut a listener's confidence in what you are saying? Based on audience reactions you may have had at speeches, did you have a sense of maintaining their attention? Listening to a recording of a presentation you may get a better sense of your demeanor and where added focus can be given.
How is your voice in terms of resonance and volume? While we all have a certain voice based on physiology, there are ways to maximize how pleasant it can sound and how far we can project.
Do you stay at a high-intensity level and try to be urgent throughout the whole speech in an effort to convey passion and commitment? Do you realize that doing that can cause some people in the audience to get overwhelmed and shut off their listening intensity? Can you modulate your energy flow?
Do you have verbal graffiti when you talk, such as 'um' and 'you know?' It affects many of us, and attention being given to eliminate it will make any presentation cleaner and crisper.
Do you understand the concept of having communication actions behind your words that create impact and also help you gauge the success of your communication to others, or do you simply try to change inflection and emphasis to change your vocal tonality?
Are you comfortable with your posture standing up before a group of people? Do you move around a lot when giving a presentation or do you stay in one spot? Do you use your hands constantly or are you able to keep them relaxed and gesture only when you are emphasizing a particular point? A speaker loses effectiveness with too much movement of arms or feet on stage. Having a speaking coach watch you the same way a director would watch an actor practice a monologue can be quite helpful.
If you are moving across a stage to connect with your audience, do you know where to face and whether to be at the edge of the stage?
The degree you can become more effective in speaking (thus walking away with more leads, prospects and clients) is to take advantage of strengths and improve areas of weakness objectively to the extent you can. Relying on a friend who came to a speech and told you afterward that 'you were great' can mask the need to make improvements. Obviously the friend is trying to be supportive but may not be aware of issues that struck the rest of the audience or may not want to cause hurt feelings. Getting input and feedback from people that have less of a personal connection to you will ultimately prove more valuable. That's where a decision to hire your own speaking coach pays off.
That will help you start using what you do best and hone your skills so that your presentations become those that audiences appreciate, to which they respond, and helps the right ones become your great clients.