Do I need to get a presentation skills coach? Well, unfortunately, the answer is probably… It depends. A public speaking coach can be very helpful in certain situations. However, in many cases, a public speaking coach can also be a complete waste of time and money. (The process may actually make you more nervous as well.)
In this post, I’m going to cover the pros and cons of public speaking coaching. I give you a few circumstances where hiring a good public speaking coach can be very helpful. We will also cover the situations where a presentation coach can be detrimental. Next, I’ll give you a few ways to find a high-quality speech coach. Then finally, I will share with you a list of skills where presentation and executive coaching are most helpful.
Follow the links below to take you to each specific section of the page.
The Pros and Cons of Public Speaking Coaching.
You have a lot of options for different types of presentation training. The most common way to acquire practical tips is by reading posts or books and/or watching videos online. This option is very cost-effective. (In most cases, it is free.) The downside of this type of training is that you won’t get feedback or coaching. So, quite often, this type of training can take a long time. You can also develop bad habits that may be more difficult to correct later.
However, if you hire a good public speaking coach, feedback is built into the process. For instance, a coach can help you design a sample presentation. Then, you can practice delivering that presentation in front of the coach. Your coach will give you feedback so you can improve your delivery. So, when you hire a public speaking coach, you can speed up your learning process quite a bit. Your presentation coach may have years of experience mastering the skill that you want to improve in. This shortens your learning curve.
Don’t Hire a One-on-One Presentation Skills Coach If Any of These Things Are True.
One-on-One Presentation Skills Coaching is perfect to fine-tune your presentation. However, if you are a nervous speaker or if you have very little experience speaking, coaching may not be a good fit.
Let’s explore why people who are nervous may want to choose a different option. Public speaking fear occurs when a person attempts to speak in front of a group and has more perceived failures than successes. (Make sure to see Where Public Speaking Fear Comes From for more details.) Obviously, this is a very simple way to explain how people get stage fright, but it is pretty accurate. To reduce this nervousness, you have to replace the memories of negative experiences with memories of positive experiences.
The big problem when you do a one-on-one coaching session is that you don’t gain experience speaking in front of a group. So, the first time you stand up to speak after coaching sessions, that nervousness will still be there.
If you are a new presenter, you will experience a similar challenge. The only difference is that, since you don’t have the negative experiences to overcome, if you have a huge success right away, your confidence will soar. So, new speakers who do one-on-one presentation coaching tend to do better than presenters who are nervous.
(Again, that is why presentation classes work better. You get both the coaching and the presentation experience.)
Situations Where a Presentation Skills Coach Can Be a Great Investment.
With all that being said, once you want to get your presentations to the next level, a good presentation coach can help you in these types of situations.
If You Have a Big Presentation or Executive Presentation With a Lot on the Line.
If you have a big boardroom speech coming up, a presentation coach can help you design key messages for these board members. Client presentations or board meetings are unique speeches. You can feel a lot of pressure when you deliver powerful presentations like these. You have a lot on the line. Professional speakers have more experience delivering these types of speeches. So, a professional coach can help you design and practice a more powerful speech.
For instance, I had an engineering team hire me to help them design a presentation to win a $3 million contract. I don’t care how confident you are, if $3 million is on the line, you want every advantage you can get. So, hiring a professional coach is a good investment.
You Are a Fairly Confident Speaker, But You Want to Fine Tune your Delivery.
Once you get experience as a powerful speaker and want to fine-tune your delivery, a coach can be a great investment. I had a client in Houston who went through my presentation skills class to reduce nervousness. Then, later, she received two promotions in less than two years. Her newest role included giving client presentations and to train new team members. So, she hired me to come in a few hours each week to help her practice more high-level presentation skills.
She wanted to make her training sessions more interactive. In addition, she also wanted to create an environment of inclusion for these new team members. Each of these things would have been challenging to do if she hadn’t already been speaking confidently for a few years. However, because she was already a confident speaker, the fin-tuning was much easier.
You Have a Team of Presenters Who Want to Improve Communication Skills.
Another great situation where coaching is a great value is when you have a team of speakers. For instance, I mentioned earlier that presentation classes are the best way to overcome nervousness. Classes are also more cost-effective because you are able to split the fee for the professional speaker’s time among all the participants. Well, if you have a team of presenters, you get all the benefits of personal presentation coaching but the fee is way more cost-effective.
One more thing… If you happen to be designing a group presentation — a professional presentation where multiple speakers will present together, then a coaching session may be the only solution. Getting an independent third party who is also an expert at speaking to help can give you a tremendous edge!