When we coach cohorts (three to 10 speakers at a time for a specific event), we get a front row seat to the diverse emotions people experience in preparing a talk. I like to coach my clients (those that hire us to work with the speakers) that getting a speaker’s idea, content and story organized is only 50 percent of the work. The other half is in watching their psychological response and helping them to navigate their emotions toward their “moment” on stage.
Having just finished working with a cohort of four people –all of whom were so different– it reminded me of behavioral patterns I’ve seen consistently over the years. When it comes down to it, four basic behaviors sum up the majority of speakers we coach. Not everyone fits into a nice definition and many encompass more than one.
Keep reading to discover the four types of speaker behaviors and learn the coaching strategies we employ to help each speaker best prepare to succeed.
Collector
Key Indicators:
Office is full of books, memorabilia, photos, awards, coffee cups and papers.  Usually highly expressive and creative. Loves to verbally debate and discuss. Is open to coaching and makes time for it.
Key Speaker Prep Behavior:
They love to collect content. Even after an idea is solidified, they go seek more and more data and story to include. When everyone thinks their talk is done, they have not yet collected all the advice they want to consider and continue to make changes.
Our Coaching:
Everything you have is in front of you to be successful. It’s okay to stop and practice the talk you have.
Crammer
Key Indicators:
Their career is FULL. With many hats and appointments, you wonder when they sleep at night. They do everything well, but on their terms and timeline.
Key Speaker Prep Behavior:
Appointments are often rescheduled, even though their intent is strong to keep them. They are confident in their speaking ability so don’t make the time we think they need. In the end, you are reminded they likely were the late night crammers – keeping everything to the last minute – but always pulling out a 4.0.
Our Coaching:
Keep patient, and go where the speaker is (i.e. appreciate any attention they offer). Understand their process is not linear, and those relying on their deck being done on time will be disappointed. But the end product will not suffer from the pathway that proceeded it.
Perfectionist
Key Indicator:
They care deeply about their work and what others think. They want to do well for the organization. Some may struggle with presentations because they desire them to be perfect. They show up to coaching eager to learn, participate and apply.
Key Speaker Prep Behavior:
They are hard on themselves, trying to make sure the talk is perfect. They seek advice from colleagues and often want to revise to please onlookers. In the end, they really don’t want to disappoint anyone and as a result, revise often and overthink too much.
Our Coaching:
Consistently positive, knowing almost anything they do will be well received. Our focus becomes on assuring them that even a mistake is human, and prep them to know how to recover if something goes wrong (they forget a point, the mic goes out, a slide doesn’t forward).
Wanderer
Key Indicators:
They really love working with a teleprompter, which keeps them on message. (For the record, we don’t coach to teleprompters unless it is a very unique situation or your title is president or governor).
Key Speaker Behaviors:
Their staff has written talking points for them, but they show up with some scribbled notes. During the three-minute rehearsal, they tell 10 minutes of stories.
Our Coaching:
Refine their 10 minutes to the three or four key points they will need to present in AN HOUR. Help specifically with opening/closing each point with key transitions so they know how to keep moving through their story line and not get lost in the wilderness.
I’ll add one more archetype. Fortunately, we rarely see it. But when we do…  it’s cause to hide.
The Egoist
Key Indicators:
They tell us in the first call they don’t need help.
Key Speaker Prep Behavior:
They only ask for more time on stage.
Our Coaching:
We quickly allow them to plot their own destiny. We can only coach those who want to be coached.
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