One of the most challenging presentations I can imagine doing is a TED Talk. Because I’m always looking for new challenges, I’ve decided to do my own TED Talk, one that’s focused on how to achieve goals.

TED Talks set the bar very high. The list of notable speakers is daunting: President Bill Clinton, Microsoft founder Bill Gates, primatologist Jane Goodall, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg and so on and so on. TED speakers are often the kind of people who win the big awards — Nobels, Pulitzers, Oscars etc. Or they’re emerging artists, scientists, and thinkers who one day will win an award.

Still, I believe I have something to offer. And I do have plenty of experience speaking in front of people, as both an educator and a business coach. But I want my TED Talk to be the talk of my life! So when I decided this was my goal, I knew that I couldn’t rely on past experience alone. To be at the top of my game I needed some external input: an executive speech coach.

Choosing to work with a coach has been one of the best professional decisions I’ve ever made. I admit the first session wasn’t easy though. I quickly realized that it’s one thing to speak to an audience. It’s another to be under the microscope of an expert I’d never met, knowing she was analyzing my every move, expression, and word!

As exhausting and stressful as that first session turned out to be, it also gave me a glimpse of how working with a great coach could significantly improve my business communication. It’s the reason I’ve gone back to work with her and will continue to do so. Ultimately, I want to become the best possible presenter I can be, one capable of getting an audience on its feet.

If you’re in business, I’m sure you too would like to be the best possible communicator you can be. That’s why today I’d like to share some of the ways in which a good coach can help you improve your business communications.

Five Ways a Good Coach Can Help You

1.New Tools
It’s easy to simply rely on skills you’ve already honed. But a good coach can teach you new skills and introduce you to skills you may not even realize you need.

2. Confidence Boost
Sometimes we can become overly self-critical. Any coach worth his or her salt will be on your side, rooting for you to succeed. That’s a huge confidence boost, which can go a long way to making you do your best work.

3. Good Eye
A good coach has a good eye. She (or he) sees your strengths and your weaknesses. What’s more, she (or he) helps you to see those strengths and weaknesses too.

4. Role Model
In your own work you may be in the position of needing to give feedback. A good coach is a wonderful model of how to give positive, constructive feedback.

5. Truth Telling
My coach doesn’t let me off the hook, and I appreciate that! She keeps me honest and holds me accountable.

In case you’re not exactly sure what I mean in point five, above, let me explain. My coach noted some habits I have when presenting that were not helping my audiences to connect with me. For example, I had a habit of saying “so” (the way some people say “um”) too much. Sometimes I’d rush from one sentence to another, barely stopping to take a breath. She pointed out how it might confuse people because they’d have a hard time distinguishing one idea from the next. She showed me how to breathe at the ends of sentences, to allow for that space “where a penny could drop.” She also helped me to bring a smile to my face and my voice, which really makes a difference to how my words are received. And, let me tell you, if I don’t do those things in my mock presentations for her now, she’ll call me on it.

If you’re considering getting a coach, I’d also suggest looking at a Forbes article called Three Qualities To Look For In A Great Executive Coach. Among other things, it points out that, because a coach is outside looking in she can see what you cannot. She observes, gathers information, and starts to find solutions to problems. In other words, a good coach really can help you to expand your viewpoint and get out of your habitual ways of seeing things. Or, as an article at the Competitive Edge points out, a great coach is really a great life teacher. And, let’s face it, at any stage of our careers or lives we can all benefit from someone who helps us to open our eyes.

So, am I ready to do that TED Talk yet? Not quite, but I’m confident I’m getting there.

Do you need help with your presentation skills? Contact me at The Language Lab.

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