The Benefits of Preparing for a Conference with a Speech Coach

9 Jun The Benefits of Preparing for a Conference with a Speech Coach

I want to share some advice based on my experience coaching over 200 conference speakers, moderators, and panelists to prepare for their upcoming presentations. Some of the conference speakers I’ve helped just took an initial, free consultation, which is great, others wanted additional, in-depth help for a particularly important event. Some have become valued clients and friends. Regardless of seniority (C-level executives, managers, or individual contributors) or industry such as financial services, fintech, healthcare, biotech, manufacturing, and retail, a few common truths have emerged:

Value – Delivering a message that truly provides value sounds obvious but is difficult without the right focus. Most clients I work with believe they are providing value. Often, that’s not the case. You should explicitly state what the value is to your listeners at the beginning of your presentation. In fact, it should be one clear sentence that says, “this is important to you because…” Also, remember value is not what you think is worthwhile, it’s putting yourself in your listeners’ shoes and deciding what would be valuable to them.

Connection – Connecting with the listeners is easier than you think. Most of my clients believe it’s an innate skill – either they are compelling or not. Not true! Being compelling begins with making sure you are talking to your listeners. If they want you to get to the point, be concise. If they want you to be detailed, start at the beginning and be sure to connect the dots. I often teach a bit about the basics of human reasoning and how communication needs to be inductive or deductive. In either case, I stress that when you speak, it’s not about you! You have important information to present, but if you don’t present it with their perspective in mind, you can forget about being compelling. In fact, it’s possible you won’t be heard at all.

Being Effective – Thinking on your feet and handling challenging questions or unwelcome surprises is an important skill. The good news is, it is easy when you’re well-prepared. You can be ready for the unexpected, whether it’s a last-minute change in the schedule, technical glitches, or dealing with a difficult person. Three steps to good preparate are: 1) have a method to think through upcoming interactions; 2) categorize and catalogue examples and experiences for use; and 3) make this a part of your daily life. When you anticipate and prepare for questions and concerns before you go onto a stage, turn on your camera, or walk into a meeting, you’ll know the right answers and you can focus on the context for your response. If you prepare properly, you will have a critical skill that all effective, persuasive speakers have mastered.

These are only three of the common topics I typically cover, even if it’s a single 30-minute session. Most conference speakers also benefit from tips on dealing with nervousness and practice strategies because like any skill, consistent practice is what gets you to the next level.

I want to help those in need and have learned that in just 30 minutes, we can together take significant steps to make you the best speaker you can be.

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Dr. Ian Turnipseed

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