Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Do You Need A Speech Coach?

If you are in a profession that requires even occasional public speaking, you may have considered hiring a speech coach. Undoubtedly you will weigh the costs versus the benefits. Today I would like to spell out some of those benefits as well as the costs--the costs of not hiring a speech coach.

First, you probably wonder, do I really need help? After all I'm pretty good, certainly better than some I have seen! And you are probably right. But is "better than bad" good enough? And could "better than good enough" help your bottom line? If so, then you probably could use some help.

After all, even people who perform at the highest levels retain coaches to help them in their quest for ongoing improvement and to maintain excellence. Michael Jordan still had coaching, despite being the greatest of all time. Are you better at speaking than Michael Jordan was at basketball?

Another question to ask yourself is "How do I feel about speaking?" Do you love every minute of it, reveling in the moment? or do you hate it with a passion? Or are you more ambivalent about it, seeing it as a necessary evil?

I ask these questions because one of the things a coach can do is change our perception of speaking itself. We need to be fully engaged in the process, not the least bit reluctant. Our attitude comes through to our audience, and the least bit of negativity tarnishes our presentation in subtle and not so subtle ways that can undermine our efforts.

What else can a coach do for you? They will be brutally honest. This is something our friends colleagues and associates might be reluctant to do for obvious reasons. But sometimes we need to hear the cold, hard truth. And because they are brutally honest, we can also believe the positives, which is extremely important. This way, when they tell you you are great, you can believe it and go out there with full confidence in what you do.

A good coach will not try to change you. They will simply bring out your best qualities and eliminate any major flaws. The goal is to be yourself at your best. Anything else will stand out as being inauthentic. And we don't trust that which is not "the real thing".

Most importantly a good coach will help you prepare. I would hope we all prepare before a speech, but are we doing it in the best, most efficient possible way? For many, we're not. A good coach will make sure we are at the top of our game when the lights come up.

But what is the cost? A reputable speaking coach will probably run you $200-$500 per hour, so it's not cheap.

But, what is the cost of doing ineffective presentations? One lost contract or job could cost you many times the cost of some coaching. I recently watched a company pitch its services to my town at a borough council meeting. While I am not part of the decision-making body, I would be shocked if the company wins the contract. Not because they would be bad--quite the contrary, they appeared to have a great service/product. They will not win the contract because the sales presentation was so poorly done. It was poor enough that I emailed the company the very next morning offering my services. Alas, I received no reply. Sadly, this tells me they just don't get it and will be out there doing more bad presentations--losing more contracts--for reasons that are completely solvable. In one or two hours I would have them set up with a sales pitch and the principles to apply for future pitches that would maximize their sales potential.

Clearly they didn't think they needed a speech coach. I know better. They do.

What about you? Do you need a speech coach? Could your sales presentations be more successful? Or, would it be worth a couple of hundred dollars to give the most kick-ass "Best Man" speech ever? Do you have to deliver a presentation for acceptance into a prestigious school? These are all situations for which a speech coach would be well worth the cost.

Got questions? Visit semiosphereconsulting.com and/or click on the "Contact Us" link for additional information.

Until then, be well and speak well. And as always. thanks for reading!