4 Ways to DIY a Speaker Coaching Program

Even if planners don't have the resources to hire a professional coach, there are ways they can improve their speakers' effectiveness.

Author: Barbara Palmer       

African-American woman speaking to group

Creating a speaker coaching webinar or tip sheets for your speakers can help them better connect with your audience.

Don’t let the fact that you don’t currently have it in your budget to create a speaker coaching initiative stop you, advises Sarah Michel, CSP, vice president for professional connexity for Velvet Chainsaw Consulting, and a professional speaker. There still are a lot of small steps you can take to invest in improving your meeting’s education. Besides, she told Convene, “if you want your meeting to be sustainable in the future and to potentially grow, you can’t afford not to” invest in education.

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Sarah Michel

Michel offered the following four ways to get started:

Leverage your education committee. Make the most of their time and influence them by inviting them to take part in planning calls and help speakers understand your audience, Michel said. And involve them in curation. Ask them who they know in terms of experts who would make great speakers for your event and to open doors for you.

Create a speaker coaching webinar. If you don’t have the money to hire a consultant, ask yourself who among your members “has just knocked it out of the ballpark” as a presenter, Michel said. Identify the most popular speaker who gets nothing but high scores in your association and ask that person to present a webinar, sharing their tips and practices.

Generate speaker tip sheets. Go to a generative AI platform, such as ChatGPT, and prompt the platform to generate top 10 tips for speakers and formats and distribute them to your presenters.

Experiment. Pick one or two new session formats and invest in that session and in working with the speaker or speakers to make sure the audience has the opportunity to interact with the content, the presenter, and each other. Then track the evaluations and the speaker feedback. “If you get super-high scores and everybody’s raving, go to your boss and say, ‘So, look what happened. Can we expand this next year?’”

Barbara Palmer is deputy editor of Convene.

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