After all, leaders speak all the time, internally and externally. And when they speak, a lot is at stake: their own reputations and their organization’s success.
Leaders can’t settle for being a good enough speaker. They have to be exceptional speakers if they want to earn an audience’s attention and respect, influence how people think and feel, and change how they act.
What Does an Executive Speech Coach Do?
The job of an executive speech coach is to show leaders how to build on the skills they’ve already developed in order to become exceptional speakers:
- To command an audience’s attention without being egotistical.
- To create a clear and compelling message.
- To tell stories that engage an audience’s emotions and imaginations.
- To win an audience’s trust and respect.
- To speak off the cuff, when necessary.
Questions to Ask a Prospective Executive Speech Coach
Most of the time, the question isn’t whether you can benefit from working with an executive speech coach. The question is how do you determine which speech coach is right for you.
- What’s their experience?
What’s their experience as a speaker or presenter?
I don’t know how a coach can help people develop a skill they haven’t first mastered. So you should look for an executive speech coach who has spoken frequently and to a variety of audiences, someone who knows what it’s like to interact with a live audience, someone who has learned from personal experience, not just from books, what works and what doesn’t work.
What’s their experience as an executive speech coach?
Just because someone has mastered a skill — and public speaking is a skill — doesn’t mean they’re able to help others perfect that skill. So you should look for someone who has training and experience as a coach, someone who has worked successfully with a number of clients in roles and fields similar to yours.
- What’s their theoretical understanding of speeches?
You’re probably not interested in an academic discourse on the nature and purpose of public speaking. But you should ask about their understanding of what a speech is, what it can and cannot accomplish, what its most important elements are. You need to know whether you can trust this person’s professionalism and expertise.
- How are they different from other executive speech coaches?
Experienced, highly competent executive speech coaches typically have credentials, certifications, and advanced degrees, impressive client lists, publications, and testimonials. They may be good, even exceptional at what they do, but how can you know if they’re right for you.
I suggest you look for what makes them different from other executive speech coaches. Many coaches have an acting background, so they focus on helping clients develop their delivery skills. One coach I know is experienced in improvisation, so — you guessed it — he helps his clients incorporate aspects of improv into their speaking. I focus primarily on helping my clients 1) think strategically about their overall approach to speaking and 2) develop a powerful, evocative, results-oriented message.
Of course, you’ll want to ask about the coach’s client list and testimonials, about how the two of you would work together, about confidentiality and fees.
Here’s what it boils down to when hiring an executive speech coach: Do you like, trust, and respect the person on a personal and professional basis?
Have you worked with an executive speech coach? What was your experience?
Here’s more information about my experience and approach as an executive speech coach.