Coaching Made Easy

by Stephen Boyd | February 6, 2007

In a “Wizard of Id” cartoon, the first scene shows the king finishing a speech to his people. As the king leaves, his assistant says to the audience, “If you would like a copy of the king’s speech, you should probably seek psychiatric help.” The final scene shows the assistant being carried off to prison saying, “I couldn’t help it!”

We still face the same problem today. Presentations are often boring and have little significant content. Many times it is due to the fact that getting up to speak is a great fear for many people.

Yet few skills are more important in order to advance in your career. A recent Wall Street Journal article stressed that presentation skills training and coaching are in more demand today than ever because those skills are essential for promotion and recognition in most careers. To demonstrate the demand, author Joann Lublin says that you can spend $19.95 for a book by a speech coach or pay $1,995 and three days on an American Management Association seminar.

If you are not ready to lay out your money or the company’s money to be coached or trained in presentation skills, why not be your own “speech coach?” Here are some ways to “coach” yourself.

Ask a colleague to tape your next speech. With technology as it is today, small inconspicuous cameras are available that would not be a distraction to the audience or to you as you speak. Soon after the speech (before you forget the setting and context of the speech), watch yourself deliver that speech. Take notes on what you did well and what you can do to improve. Put those notes in the folder you will use for your next presentation and review it as you prepare the next speech.

Make a deal with a co-worker that you will be in the audience at his or her next speech to critique it and provide notes for him or her, and that person will do the same for you. Follow up with that person and discuss the speaking experience. The person does not have to be an expert in public speaking to give you good feedback. Just ask the person to share with you what was appealing and what you could do to improve.

Practice all or part of your next speech in front of a mirror. This may seem awkward at first, but once you get used to watching yourself in the mirror, you’ll find it helpful. You can easily make immediate corrections as you pick up on delivery mannerisms or facial features that may not match your content.

If after doing these three things you still need help, contact a speech coach or trainer. I’ve coached several hundred people over the past 30 years and would be glad to work with you on how you can move to the next level as a speaker.

About the Author

Stephen D. Boyd, Ph.D., CSP, is Professor Emeritus of Speech Communication, College of Informatics, Northern Kentucky University, near Cincinnati. He presents keynotes and seminars to corporations and associations whose people want to speak and listen effectively. See additional articles and resources at http://www.sboyd.com. To book Steve, call 800-727-6520 or email him through his website.

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