I admit it. I’m ticked off.

Upon recently googling the term “Speech Coach”, I found an article from a former colleague knocking the industry of speech coaching and said it was a waste of time and money unless you’re planning on being a professional speaker. She suggested that one could read a book or watch themselves on a webcam to determine their effectiveness and that all of the coaching could even do more harm than good by correcting mannerisms, posture, gestures and that most people forget 90% of what they learn anyway.

Seriously? That was 2012 and it’s now 2015 and “TIMES HAVE CHANGED!!! The truth is that anyone who is working in the public should take communication classes, public speaking classes and can benefit from “A GREAT SPEECH COACH”!! After all, this is the video age! Web cams, Webinars, video conferencing, video blogging and with so many people building brands on line, we are becoming more and more public in our presentations every day. We should all want to appear at our best and know how others truly perceive us! Especially if the person is going to be a LEADER in his/her company, present in the community, or to his/her industry, or perhaps be a rainmaker and need to present in public forums, then of COURSE they need to have specialized attention from a results-oriented speech coach!

I am a speech coach and have enjoyed a fruitful career. I help executives, celebrities, athletes, sales professionals and entrepreneurs feel more confident about themselves in a public speaking venue by continually helping them determine what they are going to say and how they say it. My job is part PR, part therapy, part expertise, but mainly I help guide these influential individuals to their next step in public or private communication.

The best part of my job is meeting ambitious people from all over the country who understand that if you want to truly get proficient at anything, you learn from others, you study it and you practice it. The majority of clients are already comfortable in their personal style, and most of the work has to do with the basic things that can dramatically alter the audience’s perception of the public communicator.

Pacing seems to be a very common area where people need tweaking.

Recently I was coaching an executive who was about to fly to London to do a series of five speeches for one company. I had reviewed some of his speeches on tape and liked, but didn’t love his presentation. He’s a super high energy guy and, in his speeches, he was on full-throttle all the time. He had watched his presentation over-and-over, and then surmised that he was a super high-energy fellow and that he needed to pump up the audience with his liveliness!

Imagine my clients surprise to hear that he was completely EXHAUSTING ME by his loud and high energy rants! YES! The content was spectacular, but his delivery was actually boring to the ear. Once you get a person in such a high-emotional state, our job as a speaker is to take them on a journey and give them a break every few minutes from the current pace to digest the information. My client related to my comments especially when I used music as a metaphor; that the melody builds and then crescendos to please our ears and touch our hearts with the music!

When he previously explained that he was “just a high-energy guy”, he now understood that public speaking is JUST like music and he needs to be a singer/performer. The words you express require a rhythm, a pace and a certain tone in order for the audience to stay in close-tune with, and relate to the speaker!

Another speaker I worked with had a low and slow pace, so we worked with upping the pace and jamming a bunch of information in a very short timeframe to enlighten the audience while entertaining them a bit as well. A bit of tough love in both cases was necessary to let the speaker know that the audience needs to hear a variety of pace and tone in order to keep their attention.

Messaging is another area where speech coaches can dramatically help.

Recently I coached a development officer from a hospital who was presenting her performance metrics for the year to the board of trustees and her boss. She hired me to help her create something “different” that had some pizzazz. She wanted to appear more like a leader in order to gain management’s respect and possibly garner a promotion due to her efforts. So within a few hours we wrote a speech that started with taking everyone in attendance on a journey back in time to the first day they each started their respective careers at the hospital, and remembering how they felt driving up the driveway nervously and wondering what their first day experience was going to be? She then acknowledged their good decision in working for this first-rate hospital, and admitted that “like you, years later, I know that I made the best decision ever in working here”.

We capped the speech off by casting a vision of the future for every member of the hospital, to maintain a leadership presence and challenged each and every person in the room to continue on the path of excellence.

She reported back to me that there was a rush of excitement after she delivered what traditionally had been purely a document of achievement numbers which literally took two minutes, but now she turned the ordinary… into spectacular! Her boss wanted to know if she’d been in toastmasters for the past year, a board member wanted to borrow the speech, and lastly, her co-workers were embarrassed that she showed them up!

This client’s investment in one speech not only got her a promotion, but she was elected to a prestigious board soon after!

Another individual that I have coached is currently making a generous seven-figure income as a professional speaker. When he first entered the circuit, audience members were walking out of his speech because it was so filled with technical jargon that it wasn’t relatable to the majority of the audience. When we revised the speech and reworded a message that had little technical info (but just enough to be impressive!) and then added interesting stories (some of which were emotional in nature) he started getting STANDING OVATIONS!

Because this speaker is a left-brained individual and very logical, his natural way of being was very data-driven and information-oriented. I had to push him to understand that it was important to create a message that was more in-line with the general public that wasn’t filled with industry jargon or overly technical. Additionally, stories explaining his points help the audience remember the important lessons. I often share with clients that the audience is only going to remember one or two stories and maybe one statistic from the speech.

Personal stories enhance the vulnerability and likeability which makes an audience trust the speaker.

It’s harder for an introvert to share personal stories from the stage, but it is so necessary! When this same client and I first started working together, he admitted that he was somewhat uncomfortable, so my job as his speech coach was to PUSH HIM so he could stretch! “TELL me what you felt, how did you feel, and what was your response?”

Additionally, through our coaching, I discovered this client to have a very dry, but extremely witty, sense of humor in his delivery. So to his advantage, we wrote some of these quips into the speech which enhanced the overall tone even more.

The end result of these simple changes was immediately evident. The next time he spoke in public, he could feel an immediate connection to the audience as soon as he started telling his interesting personal stories, which now had the humor intertwined with his former, now less data-driven speech.

Many speakers can use these techniques to enhance any sort of speech in the work place. I usually ask the speaker WHO or WHAT do they LOVE? A good speech coach will look for a face that lights up naturally during their answers. For one recent young speaker who was giving a purely informational speech during a school speech contest, we inserted a funny story about a family pet which he spoke about in a warm and affectionate way! He “secretly” told the audience that his pet would shower him with kisses, but when his mom entered the room, the bird screeched! He didn’t say it, HE DEMONSTRATED IT, which cracked me up every time I saw him perform it! How much more is an audience going to bond with a speaker who admits being head over heels in love with his pet BIRD? His face lit up like a beacon, and he made the audience burst into laughter with his bird noise, and guess what?

He won!

The speech coaches’ JOB is to get their speakers to BE vulnerable on stage, to BE likeable and to BE lovable. We do that by helping the client discover the best of themselves and help them to relate to that passion in front of the public. This takes pushing and cajoling, much like a swim coach on the pool deck who stands over his swimmers yelling for them to swim harder as they sprint to the finish!

The coach can give direct feedback on the clients’ strengths as well.

Our role requires that we praise our clients for their good points so they have inner self-confidence! Once, I had a well-known NYC publisher of a major magazine ask me to come to her office to assist her with writing her speeches. She was concerned because many of the editors just gazed at her during her delivery without providing any response or feedback whatsoever. She was intimidated and thought she was appearing too harsh or something.

What I told her shocked her and comforted her! “Sue? (not her real name of course!) Do you know WHY they’re staring at you?” “No”, she answered. “It’s because you’re beautiful! You’re smart! You’re funny! And you’re ten times more successful than they are!”

I continued to tell her, “You don’t need me. You need to understand you’re an amazing lady. You’re one of the most respected women anywhere and that they all WANT TO BE YOU! They’re staring at you trying to figure out what they can do in their own lives to become as amazing as YOU! I’m sadly turning DOWN your business, because you’re already a remarkable person and speaker, and as sad as it is that we are not going to work together, I want you to know, YOU’RE ALREADY THERE!”

I also recently had a mega-TV star that is on a well-known reality show admit to me that she didn’t feel as charismatic as she could be. I shared with her, at her level, her name is powerful enough and that she doesn’t need to prove anything to anyone. People will hire her for her wisdom in the business, not because she’s the best speaker or most engaging personality ever.

These last two examples have both been remarkable moments in my career. To be able to sit in front of who I knew were great, successful females in their own right, and to finally understand that even THESE powerful, famous women needed someone to tell THEM how amazing they were.

My belief, and my experience tells me that we ALL grow from working with coaches. We should all strive to want to do better and to BE better. So whether it’s your public speaking that needs a tweak, or your business, consider hiring a coach to help you achieve the great success that you deserve. It’s no secret that you will get better by working with people who are better.

In time, when you’re on stage and someone comments about how comfortable you look and how great you sound, you’ll understand that all of that hard work has paid off and that you’re now able to truly understand the role of a public speaker; to educate, to inspire and to influence!

Now when they ask, “how did you do that”? You won’t be touting a book or telling about viewing yourself on a web cam! No! You’ll be sharing your secret of investing in attaining help with getting you to the next level. And the first call you will you make? It will be to your SPEECH COACH who has been your cheerleader from behind the scenes, knowing well that you had more potential inside of you than you ever even dreamed that you were capable of.

Now you should understand that you can use this amazing new gift of confidence in public speaking to be able to take on your own personal causes, to educate the masses and to inspire the world to be a better, less judgmental (and more uplifting) wonderful place!