As time progresses, the speaking industry is becoming more and more diverse. In addition to new speaking topics and a greater variety of nationalities in the speaking space, this also means new demands. For many speakers, this can be a challenging prospect as they work to stand out. Thankfully, with the rise of professional speaking, the number of speaking coaches is also increasing. In addition to their business expertise, the average speaking coach is also a speaker themself, making their potential impact all the greater.
In this blog, we’ll break down that impact and focus on the growing question, “How can a speaking coach help my speaking business?” We’ll also cover the average costs associated with hiring a speaking coach and how to know when you need one. Needless to say, there are plenty of speakers out there that have their speaking business in the bag. However, for those of you feeling overwhelmed or like your business could be improved, we’ve got you covered.
Before we begin, below are the primary questions and topics I’ll explain in this blog. As always, if you have a question of your own that I missed here, feel free to drop us a line. We’re always looking for more ways to provide value to professional speakers. So, in other words, the more questions, the merrier! 🙂
- What is a speaking coach?
- What are the benefits of working with a speaking coach?
- How much does a speaking coach cost?
- Do I need to hire a speaking coach?
What is a speaking coach?
To start, let’s tackle the foundational question, “What is a speaking coach?” In the traditional sense, a speaking coach is hired to help with public speaking. Surprising, I know. To be exact, “Speaking coaches assist clients in achieving their personal and professional goals by helping them improve their public speaking skills,” according to Study.com. This means that, for business owners outside of the speaking industry, a speaking coach is their ticket to a more professional presence. From speaking to small teams to presenting in front of the whole company, mastering public speaking is a sure way to stand out. Plus, improving your speaking skills can also make you a better leader, which helps your team succeed as well as yourself.
Similarly, in the speaking industry, a speaking coach can be hired to help you troubleshoot your speaking skills and presentation style. However, more frequently, speakers hire a coach for their business knowledge. Unlike ordinary entrepreneurs, owners of speaking businesses have to be “jacks-of-all-trades”. In addition to being a solid speaker, you also have to know some degree of sales, marketing, and operations to grow your speaking business. Because of this, it’s easy to get overwhelmed with the amount of work that has to be done or to let things slip through the cracks. In this case, a speaking coach isn’t just there to be sure your presentation style is on point. They’re also there to provide insight into business practices, products, and connections to support the back end of your speaking business.
What are the benefits of working with a speaking coach?
At this point, you might be thinking, “That sounds great, but I’ve done just fine on my own. Why should I bother hiring a speaking coach?” And, that’s totally fair! If you’re an experienced speaker that hasn’t yet hired a coach, you’ve likely put in thousands of hours and a ton of work to get where you are. On the flip side, if you’re a new or aspiring speaker, hiring a speaking coach might sound helpful but still be difficult to afford.
Luckily, there are plenty of options for hiring a speaking coach that fit your budget and your needs. There are also a host of reasons that working with one can benefit your speaking business, regardless of how old it is.
They can identify your blind spots.
The first of these reasons is arguably the most important, namely that a speaking coach can pick up on your blind spots. Within any business, it’s easy to get swept up in the day-to-day process, especially when you’re balancing a ton of tasks at once. For many speakers, this comes in the form of missed speaking opportunities or inefficient workflows. In fact, within our own team, one of the most common sources of stress we hear from our clients is, “I know I could be doing better, but I’m not sure how or where.”
That’s where a speaking coach comes in. Because they’re looking at your business with fresh eyes, a speaking coach can easily see the weak points in your business framework. Additionally, they can pick up on things you’re doing well. For the average SpeakerFlow consultancy client, for example, there are a few common pitfalls. These include outdated websites, inadequate outbound sales, and extraneous tools and systems. That said, there are also a ton of ways we see speakers succeeding without even knowing it. In fact, with almost every client, there are potentially profitable industries or sales tactics that are getting left on the wayside.
In the same way, in your own speaking business, there could be industries you’re missing. You could be following a set of rules “because everyone else uses it,” even though your best sales have come from a different approach. By working with a speaking coach, you can efficiently and confidently sort out the good practices from the bad. It’s all about maximizing your strengths and building a process tailored to your speaking business. We should know – it’s what we do day in and day out!
They’ll give it to you straight.
Now, all of that can sound either too good to be true or a little intimidating. After all, depending on your experience and personality, you might be uncomfortable being told, “You could do this better” over and over. Unfortunately, the reverse of that is a confidant that sugarcoats their opinion and expertise, giving you the impression that you couldn’t do any better. While that might be easier to swallow, it’s also not going to propel your business any further.
Knowing this, in addition to what they tell you, hiring a speaking coach is also beneficial for how they tell you. It might sound harsh, but because your speaking coach isn’t emotionally invested in your business, they’ll tell you exactly which parts could use improvement. If your website is outdated, they will tell you outright. If your sales process needs a little love and polishing, they’ll let you know. However, this isn’t to say that speaking coaches are going to berate you because your speaking business isn’t perfect. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. Rather than being told, “You’re doing this wrong!” and being thrown to the wolves, they’ll be there to set you on the right path, too.
One of our favorite examples of this is Dawnna St Louis. Known for her killer high heels and her powerful personality, Dawnna has spent years teaching speakers not only how to sell but to command a room as she does. Additionally, those that have met her can vouch for her good nature as well as her skills. In other words, she may tell you that your sales process needs work, but she’ll also make you laugh while she helps you fix it. Win win!
They know the industry better than anyone.
That brings me to the next reason to work with a speaking coach: their experience. For many speaking coaches, they’ve managed a coaching business for decades. During this time, they’ve helped hundreds of clients and evolved with the speaking industry. Because of this, they not only know the industry, as it exists currently, better than anyone. They’ve also seen the trends that have risen and vanished in the industry, making them better equipped to pick up on rising trends for the next year.
If you’re an aspiring speaker, this is especially important. With any new job, there are countless skills and nuances to master, and speaking is no different. In all honesty, starting a speaking business – even a small one – is more difficult than beginning a new job, because of the business know-how you need on top of learning how to speak professionally. With a speaking coach, although starting a speaking business still won’t be easy, you’ll likely avoid many of the pitfalls or challenges new speakers run into. You’ll also have a helping hand when looking for a virtual assistant, an accountant, or a publisher. Again, because of their industry experience, a speaking coach can provide connections wherever your business can benefit.
It should be noted that, even if you’re an experienced speaker, there’s always room to grow. So, whether you’re considering a speaking coach or not, keep in mind that there’s always going to be someone that knows the speaking industry better than you. Because of that, the value of an outside perspective can’t be overlooked. Even if you only speak with them for an hour, bouncing ideas off of a speaking coach or even a fellow speaker can mean the difference between a solid speaking business and a stellar one.
They have proven processes and will hold you accountable for following them.
On top of insights and ideas, a speaking coach also provides proven processes. Any experienced speaker will tell you there are certain things that don’t fly in the speaking industry. For example, when at events for the National Speakers Association (NSA), don’t approach fellow speakers as competition. There, speakers gather to support each other and share resources, not try and out-shine one another. In the same way, on the back end of a speaking business, there are definite “do”s and “don’t”s. Ultimately, a speaking coach is able to outline each one that applies to your speaking business, so you can hit the ground running.
For some coaches, these processes come in the form of checklists or timelines for their coaching. In others, you might document your progress in a project management system. Within our team, for example, we use religiously use Asana. In short, when we onboard a new client, we first audit their business to pinpoint its weak spots. We then plan out improvements to address these weak spots. Finally, we enter these improvements in an Asana project and assign parts of each improvement to our team and theirs. That way, we can collaborate as we work together to solve each problem and make sure we’re on track to meet their goals with them.
It may sound tedious, but ultimately, this ensures that every task gets completed. From large changes, like designing a new website, to small changes, like outlining your value proposition, a speaking coach will not only make sure you know exactly what needs to be done. They’ll also be sure that you do it. That way, you don’t lose track of your projects and tasks or, even worse, waste money on advice that you don’t implement.
They’ve likely been where you are now and understand how you feel.
Finally, working with a speaking coach can also be beneficial because of their personal experience. Although, from a professional standpoint, their industry experience is exceptional, they’ve also likely been where you are. In many cases, speaking coaches found their footing in the speaking industry as speakers first. It was only after years on stage that they took a step back into the world of consulting to help others succeed.
Additionally, for some speaking coaches, speaking is still a major part of their work. Looking back at Dawnna St Louis, for example, in addition to running retreats, Dawnna continues to speak on the side. This allows her to not only earn additional income as she helps speakers part-time. It also allows her to stay on top of trends within the speaking industry and continue developing her skills and style. It’s like legendary poet Maya Angelou said, “Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.” The same can be said of the speaking industry. There’s always room to continue growing, and no one knows that better than speaking coaches.
The other frequently seen origin for speaking coaches is the backbone of the speaking industry: speaking agents. Jane Atkinson at Speaker Launcher, for example, acted as Vice President for International Speakers Bureau in Dallas, Texas for years before becoming a consultant. Likewise, in our own team, our CEO and President, Taylorr and Austin, respectively spent years working with professional speakers before turning to consulting instead. For both Jane and our team, this experience made them more empathetic to the struggles of selling in the speaking industry as well as knowledgeable about the best practices for doing so.
How much does a speaking coach cost?
Before we wrap things up, let’s talk about cost. Depending on the speaking coach you hire and the extent of your work with them, the cost of hiring a coach can vary immensely. This is partly dependent on how much you want them to hold your hand but also on their renown. In other words, the more experience a coach has and the more time you need with them, the more it’ll cost. That said, for most speaking coaches out there, you’ll have several options, so you can choose the one that best fits your budget.
Looking back on those we’ve mentioned, Jane Atkinson’s Speaker Launcher program represents the most intensive end of the coaching spectrum. This program is available in a variety of options, including the Emerging Speaker, Rising Superstar, and Seasoned Pro consulting packages, which increase in price respectively. She also provides the Wealthy Speaker School, an online course designed for clients that need less of a helping hand.
If you’re already considering a speaking coach but are unsure which option to choose, many also offer less intensive coaching. Within our own team, for example, when we previously offered a coaching program, many of our clients opted for a discovery session first, to ease their way in. There, speakers could learn more about our team and how we could help them meet their goals. Then, once they wanted – and could afford – one-on-one coaching, they jumped up to the full program.
Do I need to hire a speaking coach?
At the end of the day, whether you choose to hire a speaking coach is completely up to you. As with any industry, there’s a ton of variability in speaking businesses, making it difficult to know if you do in fact need a coach. Generally, we recommend looking at hiring a speaking coach if you:
- Struggle to keep on top of the task list in your speaking business
- Have trouble selling your services or products to event planners, but you’re unsure why
- Use 20 different tools and systems to run your business and aren’t sure how they can effectively work together
- Manage your sales, marketing, operations, or speaking processes entirely through guesswork
- Want to expand your team and/or offload some of your speaking business processes but aren’t sure how or to whom
If one or more of these apply to you and your speaking business, pick a speaking coach and shoot them a message. Set up “get to know you” meetings or virtually coffee sessions with a few coaches to see how you fit in with him or her and their style. Plus, you can always set up a quick call with us! We’re happy to explain who we are and what we do as well as refer you to a speaking coach that fits your needs if needed. 😊