The term “coaching” has taken on a wide range of meanings in the business world in recent years. It could imply business strategizing, leadership counseling, marketing assistance, or guidance on life decisions or choices. It almost always involves one-on-one work together between you and a professional, either in person or over the phone. But another form many people may not know about is individual coaching for presentation skills. Usually you think of presentation skills training in terms of participating in a workshop. But in today’s tough economic times, it may not be feasible to either host a workshop or to be able to take a day and participate in one.
When a workshop isn’t possible, individual coaching may be a solution. This is where you work with a coach one-on-one to improve your presentation skills. There are both disadvantages and advantages to honing your skills this way:
All of the disadvantages of individual coaching center around one fact: you don’t have an audience.
Artificial. Getting training in public speaking or presentation skills is always going to be more powerful when it’s done in a group setting. There’s tremendous value in having an “audience” to present to, as well as a group of peers to offer their feedback to you. When you do it one-on-one, where it’s just you, the coach and a camera, you lose the sense of an audience, and it may feel a little more artificial to pretend you’re speaking to one.
Not as Anxiety-Busting. The primary issue with public speaking is, of course, anxiety. That anxiety comes primarily from the fact that you’re presenting to a group of people – whether three or three hundred. It’s the overwhelming concern for the vast majority of people who want to improve their presentation skills. They want to get rid of the butterflies and build their confidence in front of a group. Practicing in front of a group is the best way to face your fears head on and overcome them. When working one-on-one, there may be some nervousness – after all, a coach and a camera could be a little intimidating. But it’s not on the same par as the anxiety that facing an audience induces.
No Eye Communication Practice. Finally, it’s extremely difficult to practice your eye communication in a one-on-one setting. When you’re facing the members of your audience, it’s evident whether or not you’re connecting with each of them individually, giving them the sense of looking at and talking to them. That level of connection is just not possible to replicate in a one-on-one setting, so it is a skill set that may get neglected.
However, these disadvantages do not rule out the value of individual coaching. It has many advantages:
Customized Coaching. When you work with a coach, you get individual feedback targeted specifically to you – there are not others in a class with whom you need to share the coaching. You get targeted, detailed attention, which means you’re going to get specific benefit and are more likely to learn more and retain it better.
More Time Efficient. Because there are no others who are giving presentations and getting feedback, you’re the sole focus of the trainer/coach. So you can accomplish in a couple of hours what might have taken a full day if you had to share the stage with others.
Your Own Pace. A workshop setting by its very design means there is an agenda and timing considerations. The trainer must stick to a schedule. That sometimes means something might get short-changed, or it could mean too much time is spent on something not relevant to you. When it’s just you and the coach, you can work at whatever pace you want, on just the issues you want. You are restrained only by the time limits the two of you have agreed to.
Targeted to Your Needs. Maybe you feel good about your content and delivery and just want to work on improving the PowerPoint that will go along with your presentation. That can be done in a coaching session. Maybe you’re struggling with your organization and want some help with pulling your talk together and maybe adding appropriate humanizing elements. Again, that’s what the coaching can concentrate on. Maybe you have a big presentation coming up, 30 minutes in length, that you want to polish and practice. That would be impossible to do in a workshop setting, but is ideal for coaching work.
A trained, experienced coach can work with you one-on-one on your presentation skills and give you more bang for your buck!