Cup of Coffee Coaching: How to Hire the Right Speaking Coach the First Time

By Jane Atkinson

A few weeks ago, I spoke at an NSA Chapter event. Just before my session, one of the Chapters “elders” gave a short talk on finding success as a speaker. In his speech, he warned the group that speakers should not hire a speaking coach, and they should beware of people preying on new speakers with ‘get-rich-quick’ systems. He went on to say that instead they should just call him to go for coffee if they wanted to know how to be successful. 

What the elder said didn’t really faze me. I think of myself as pretty honest and I know that there are more and more people getting into the “sell stuff to speakers” game every day. Some are legit, and some are not, thus the rise in the level of skepticism.  

Because of this, I thought it would be helpful to share a few tips to try and help you sort through all of your options for advancing your speaking career:

1. KNOW WHAT YOU ARE GETTING

There is a huge difference between having a cup of coffee with a mentor and hiring a coach. Of course, I can only speak for myself, but my “business” is to help speakers succeed. I do this full time. I have formulas and strategies, and I’ve written books on the topic of being successful in speaking. Most (not all) mentors will have a cup of coffee with you, perhaps answer your questions via email, but remember that they have a business to run as well.

2. BUYER BEWARE

Before diving into any product or service that speaks of getting rich quick and promises outcomes that seem a bit too good to be true, do your homework. Ask around. I get promotions via snail mail and email that make me shudder. I think to myself “who falls for this?” Guess what? There are people who will hand their money over without investigating and often feel ripped off.

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3. IRON CLAD CONTRACTS

My coach had me sign a 2-page agreement when we got started. It was reasonable, and I know if I hit upon some financial issues, they would help me out. However, I’ve seen 10-page iron clad contracts that lock you in so tightly; it is nerve wracking. A long contract is a sign that you need to investigate more. If it scares you, then listen to your gut.

4. BE CLEAR ON WHAT YOU NEED

Some of the best money I ever spent was for NSA’s Cancun Book Writers Retreat in 2011. Even if I did not apply anything that I learned, the 3-Day Bootcamp inspired me enough to get off the mark and write my first book. I thought I was buying “how to” write a book, but what I was really buying was the motivation to get it done. Many of my clients need someone to help guide their strategy and decision making and to hold them accountable for moving forward. Your goal is to simply be clear on exactly what you need before you set out to find the person who can help.

There are plenty of places to spend your hard earned money. Exercise due diligence, know what you need, and be sure to ask around for references before committing to anything. A cup of coffee with a mentor may be all that you need, or perhaps you need a coach. Ultimately, that will be up to you to decide.

Have advice for finding the right coach or story you want to share? Share it in the comments below with all our Wealthy Speakers!

See you soon Wealthy Speakers!

 
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P.S. Check out our great Spring Specials in our Bookstore! They are a great way to start moving your speaking business towards greater success!