Do you need a business presentation coach? Well... It depends... Last week, I gave several different reasons why presentation skills are important to business success. Great presentation skills can create opportunities for advancement and increase income. How exactly do you improve your presentation skills, though? In this post, we are going to cover the pros and cons of hiring a business presentation coach. Also, we'll cover how to choose a good coach.
A Good Coach Can Shorten Your Learning Curve
In 51 BC, Julius Caesar wrote, "Experience is a teacher of all things." Not to contradict the great ruler, but, that statement is only half-right. Yes, people learn by doing. So, you will learn a lot more (and a lot faster) by doing something versus just hearing about it. However, if we only learn from our own experience, we won't grow very fast. Experience is not the best teacher. In fact, someone ELSE's experience can teach us what to do and what not to do much faster.
A good example of this is golf. If you just go out, but a set of clubs, and start hacking around, you will likely pick up bad habits. You will figure out a lot of the techniques on your own. However, you will also likely struggle with parts of your game. The process will likely take a long time. If later, you decide that you need a golf coach, you will likely have to work even harder to fix your habits. By getting advice from a golf professional early, though, you can speed up the process.
Business presentation coaching is very similar. A good coach can help you experience success earlier in the process. As a result, your confidence will grow quickly.
Years of Bad Practice Can Stunt Your Growth
I get dozens and dozens of speakers contacting me every month wanting to become a trainer for my company. The first two instructors (other than myself) who started to teach the Fearless Presentation ® presentation skills class, had totally different backgrounds. One was a seasoned teacher who had been training professionals for over 20 years (The Veteran). The second was a recent university graduate (The Kid).
The Veteran picked up the content quickly, but throughout the entire process, he questioned everything. It was almost as if he was testing the quality of the program. It didn't hit me until years later that he was asking these questions based on his years of experience. As he finished the training process to become an instructor, he and I were setting in a hotel restaurant. He told me, "I have to admit. I was skeptical that your process was going to work when we started. However, this has been a real 'eye-opening' experience. Your process works."
The Kid, though, went through the entire training process in less than six months. He began teaching as many as six 2-day classes every month. Over the next couple of years, he became the most requested instructor in the company. He was teaching classes for some of the biggest Fortune 500 companies, and he was still in his 20's. He generated almost a quarter of a million dollars in teaching fees every year, as well.
Undoing Bad Habits Takes Longer and is Often Temporary
Five years later, the difference between the two was night and day. The Veteran started struggling. I started getting complaints from his class members. I had one of my other instructors in the area pop in on one of his classes just to see what was going on. The other instructor called me during one of the class breaks and said, "Doug, I'm not sure what this guy is teaching, but it is NOT the Fearless Presentations ® class." I spent another three months working with him. He improved for a while, but eventually slipped back. With a heavy heart, I eventually had to let the instructor go.
Turns out, that as he was teaching the class, he'd start to alter the process ever-so-sightly based on his experience. This slight alteration caused a snowball effect. The minor change would cause a challenge later in the class. Of course, he would have to adapt to this challenge to fix it. When he did, he created a new challenge. Over a couple of years, the class he was teaching didn't even resemble the true class.
The Kid, however, had none of these challenges. His third year teaching, I was teaching a class in the same city as him. I popped in and watched one of his sessions. I was amazed at the way he led the class and the wisdom that he showed when he taught. His experience was different. He mastered the structure that I taught him and improved on it. (I ended up adding a lot of his alteration into the official class, later.)
The Business Presentation Coaching Helped One and Hurt the Other
My point of that story is this. The coaching I gave the kid sped up his learning process exponentially. He increased his wisdom and income so quickly. I had expertise that he didn't have. He soaked up that expertise like a sponge. Then, he grew so much faster, because he didn't have to go through all the struggles that I went through learning it.
The Veteran, though, never saw me as an expert that he could learn from. He never thought of me as his coach. Instead of using the process as a way for him to grow, he just went through the motions. As a result, when I wasn't around, he went back to his old habits.
So, before you pick a business presentation coach, make sure that you start the process with the right attitude. Pick a coach that has already done something that you want to do. Them be the sponge. Learn from the coach's successes and failures. That way you don't have to go through the whole learning curve yourself.
What a Good Business Presentation Coach Can Do for You.
A good presentation coach can do a lot of positive things for you. Just as we discussed above, a coach can shorten your learning curve. A coach can also help you take corrective actions to improve your performance. Below are some of the main benefits of coaching.
- Help You Design Your Presentations
- Improve Your Delivery
- Increase Creativity and Showmanship
- Help You Customize Your Content for the Audience
- Deliver More Fluid Group Presentations
One of the most difficult parts of public speaking is having to deliver a bad speech. A good coach can help you improve your presentation which makes it easier to deliver them.
A good business presentation coach can show you ways to improve the retention of your audience. For instance, subtly repeating your main concepts throughout the presentation can help. A good coach will also likely help you come up with good examples, stories, and analogies for your speech.
Since a good coach will likely have seen dozens (or hundreds) of presentations, they can add some creativity. For instance, I don't think of myself as being highly creative. However, after viewing thousands of presenters over the years, I remember a lot of unique performances. Every time I share one of these with a new presenter, he/she will often take these ideas and improve them.
The first thing that a good coach will do is try to identify who you'll be delivering your presentation to. The presentation coach will then help you tailor the content specific to this particular audience. Most often, when I'm asked to do coaching, is for this specific purpose. The speaker has a big presentation coming up, and he/she wants to nail that speech. A big part of that is making sure that the content is what the audience wants from the presentation.
If you happen to be delivering a group presentation, you have a higher chance of experiencing challenges. First, the group leader or executive will sometimes force the group to bend to his or her style. Second, it can be awkward to practice as a group. A good coach can make this process much more fluid and streamlined. Since the coach is the expert, the executive will often defer to this expertise.
What a Good Business Presentation Coach Will NOT Do for You.
We have laid out a lot of the positives. What are the negatives of presentation coaching? Well, the big one is that sometimes presenters will hire a presentation coach instead of just speaking more. Although hiring a business presentation coach can speed up the process, it won't eliminate the process.
- Help You Reduce Public Speaking Fear
- Improve Your Interaction with an Audience
- Be Nice on Your Pocketbook
Hiring a business presentation coach to work with you one-on-one will NOT HELP YOU REDUCE NERVOUSNESS. The only way to reduce public speaking anxiety is to have a series of successes, strung together, over a short period of time. Remember that presenting in front of a single coach is just a conversation. It isn't an actual presentation. So, the moment you stand up in front of a real group, that nervousness will still be there. One reason that we have such great success with our classes is that each presenter gets one-on-one coaching. Also, though, they get to present in front of a group (the rest of the class). So, it is the best of both worlds.
It is incredibly difficult to learn to work with an audience if you don't have one. So, if you want to get better at audience participation or reading the audience, coaching can't do that. One of the things that our presentation skills classes do very well is to help participants gain confidence tailoring the presentation on-the-fly. So, if the presenter looks out into the audience and sees confused faces, he/she makes adjustments. That is difficult to do in one-on-one coaching sessions.
The theory behind a great presentation class is that the cost of coaching is split between a small group. A good business presentation coach will likely charge about $3500 per day for his/her time. So, two days of coaching can be $7,000 plus the instructor's expenses. However, with a class, you'd split that fee between five to 10 people. The investment per person is much, much less. So, you will get much better value if you invite a few coworkers to your coaching sessions.
Whether You Want Business Presentation Coaching or a Class, We Can Help
If you are looking for a coach, want to attend one of our classes, or have a group to train, we can help. We have certified instructors all over the US, Canada, and Europe. Call us at (800) 975-6151 or complete the form below for a free consultation.