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Wendy Buckingham  /  Creator, Life Coaching Professionally

12 Tips For A Life Coach To Become A Motivational Speaker

Becoming a motivational speaker can be a real boost to building your life coaching practice. Here are 12 helpful tips for creating an effective, engaging and trouble-free presentation.

There is a certain kudos that comes your way when you take on a stage persona whether it's a group conference teleclass online, or a face to face live audience.

If you get it right you have credibility almost from the moment you stand up to speak!

Even better, if you deliver an inspiring presentation, you will soon be recognised as an articulate expert and be in demand as a presenter for all sorts of occasions as well as attracting committed new clients. 

Follow The Path To Become A Motivational Speaker

You'll find there are numerous opportunities to speak about your life coaching speciality or niche.

Man in blue jacket presenting in front of projection screen. Text says 12 Presentation Tips To Support Life Coaches Become A Great Speaker
  • Networking functions, community groups, in-house business "lunch time" events and conferences and seminars all are on the look out for coaching presentations.  They may not always be looking for content related to your specific niche or speciality but there is no harm in seeing how you can tailor your talk to each event.
  • Most of your early coaching related presentations, such as a guest speaker for community groups or networking organisations, will inevitably be free with the payoff being an opportunity to showcase your coaching services. One you have really built your confidence and have a few successful events under your belt, you will be able to demand a fee for presentations to companies or at conferences.
  • If you want to really start delivering 'in person' life coaching presentations, practice on any audience that will have you. You may not get clients and you almost certainly won't get paid but these occasions are a great opportunity to hone your speaking skills and have "learning experiences" that don't matter too much.
  • As you become more confident and known as a great speaker as well as a life coach, you can approach various speaking bureaus so they can check you out and hopefully include you in their stable of speaker they recommend.
  • And don't forget to add the fact that you are a speaker and an outline of the presentations you give, to your social media profiles and your website, even your business card. 

To get started on your journey to become not only a life coach who can present but an inspiring motivational speaker, start with the basic tips I have outlined below.

What's The Difference Between A Life Coach And Motivational Speaker?

There is a huge difference between being a motivational speaker and a life coach, although many qualified life coaches successfully do both.

A life coach is trained, certified and actively working as a professional coach with clients. These skills mixed with an ability to present to an audience can easily be applied to becoming a great motivational speaker. 

Internationally famous presenters such as Tony Robbins, Brian Tracey, Robert Kiyosaki and Bear Grills (and countless others) are well known motivational speakers who bring their own specialities to the stage. However, they are not actually trained life coaches.

As a life coach (or any skilled discipline) it is quite possible to become a motivational speaker.  Your skills and your presentation style will work for you and this page provides you with the basic elements you can use to build your presenting career.

Here's a great source of tools content for your coaching presentations

When you first begin presenting to groups as you travel the path to become a motivational speaker, it is quite likely that the first groups you present to will be small business owners in local community and networking groups.

If so you will quite likely find the products developed by the Coaching Tools Company to be invaluable as handouts.  You can purchase the whole  Small Business Coaching Kit which has 31 helpful tools and templates you can brand for your coaching.

Alternatively, The Coaching Tools Company has templates and forms for everything from a time saving Welcome Pack to helpful aids for Life, Career and Time Management. Many will be perfect as pre-made handouts at your events.

Many of items can also be purchased separately.

12 Confidence Building, Life Coaching Presentation Tips

1. Handle that public speaking anxiety

Drawing of man panicking on stage

Live and online courses and events to help

If you suffer from public speaking panic - it terrifies you - you're not alone! Some studies even report that the fear of public speaking (Glossophobia) is greater than the fear of death!

So, to overcome the fear, your first step is to get some confidence and presentation skills training!

One of the best ways to get good advice and support is to join one of the many international Toastmasters speaking courses or, in Australia, the local branch Rostrum which helps aspiring speakers develop confidence and skills. It's also worth checking out the National Speakers Association.

FYI: I may receive commissions at no cost to you.
Please see my
affiliate disclosure for more.

In fact due to the Covid-19 crisis, Toastmasters are holding online meetings around the world so it is a great time to explore the opportunities.

Reference books to use for information and study

A really good book to explore is The Magic of Public Speaking by Andrii Sedniev. 

Written specifically for new speakers I found it a useful reference book with lots of good information on presenting and some great gems to avoid having those "learning experiences".

2. Tailor your presentation to your time slot, but be flexible

Sticking to time in a presentation
  • Make the subject of each of your presentations something that can be tailored to different time slots.  It can be nerve wracking for you and the event organizer if you finish too early, or have to be cut short because you have run out of time.
  • If you do finish early you can always fill in time by calling for questions (and praying that you get some!☺)
  • At a networking breakfast or lunch you will most likely get between 20 and 40 minutes to get your message across, whereas in a conference or seminar you might get 45 minutes to an hour or even longer.
  • Please, please remember to ask when you are booked to speak, how long they want you to speak for – and be prepared to have less if the other activities in the function run over.
  • It is always a good idea to ask your host,  just before you stand up “how long have I got?”   This will enable you to edit your content if necessary to the most important points.
  • Always remember to allow enough time at the end to promote yourself and any products you have.
  • Conference timing can be quite different. They are usually well organised and stick to stated time.
  • To compensate for the eventuality that you may not get to cover all the points you planned, have a value-adding handout to leave with the audience. See more about hand outs in Tip 4.

3.  Develop a powerful basic message and know how to tell your story

No matter how you relate your own coaching skills to the audience you are presenting to, it’s important that they understand who you are and what you stand for.

You can achieve this key step by ensuring you have a powerful marketing message to adapt and weave into your presentation. The more congruent you are and the more you relate it to their own lives and work, the more you will successfully reinforce the case for working with you as a life coaching client. 

Mostly orange promotional banner for Cindy Schulson saying

Stuck on what your basic message is and how it should sound?

My colleague Cindy Schulson has a wonderful free Brand Message Template that will set you on the path of being able to powerfully articulate your branding. Her philosophy on marketing with heart is great for speakers.

4. Have a value adding handout

Have a value adding handout for them to take away and remember you by after the presentation has ended. 

Make a list of tips or a special offer.  Make sure it has your contact details and website on it. (Obvious I know, but you’d be surprised how often it is missed!). 

I gave away a simple handout  21 Ways Successful People Achieve Their Goals, which was a smaller version or my original tips booklet 54  things Successful People Do To Achieve Their Goals, which was the foundation for my best seller Ready Set Goal! now,  Be Your Own Goals Coach.

5. Develop some basic themes around the benefits of coaching

One of the first steps to take to become a motivational speaker is to develop two or three presentations that demonstrate the benefits of coaching and get the audience involved.

But don’t just stand up there and waffle on about coaching and how great it is. That is not the way to inspire your audience to work with you.

I usually present using a theme related to the life skills and goal planning information in my book and, within the time frame I am given, base the presentation on three to five of the key points.

So, I recommend you pick a favourite coaching process or two around your niche and build your presentations around them.

Include personal stories and relate experiences you have had with clients (anonymously of course) and leave the audience with some valuable tips they can use in their own lives.

6.  Keep your audience engaged with audience participation

One of the best techniques to successfully motivate your audience is to get the them to participate, even if it is only a show of hands in answer to a question. Or you can ask them to share with the person next to them on a particular topic.

Consider starting your presentation or workshop by telling the audience briefly what you are going to cover so you get them interested in what is to come. Tell them they can either ask questions as you go or you will take questions at the end of the presentation.

However, a warning: One of the dangers of  saying you will take questions during the presentation is that you can get off track and run out of time to get all your message across.  So ask for questions with one eye on the clock and be OK about telling the audience you need to move on.

7. Make sure you and the audience can  hear each other

A common assumption when you are first become a motivational speaker or conducting coaching presentations, is that you will be clearly heard. However, as I learnt the hard way, the PA systems provided by venues can be notoriously poor and unreliable - no matter how many assurances the organisers give you.

When we aren't used to presenting to a group we tend to assume that the sound is OK. But when it's not, it can throw you off course very quickly. A poor sound system will destroy your brilliant presentation and deflate your confidence in a flash.  But it does not need to be that way.

  • Before your presentation, do your best to do a microphone check with the organiser and ensure you can be clearly heard in the back of the room. If possible do this well before the actual event.
  • Conversely, make sure you can hear your audience when it comes to question time.  This may sound obvious but in a fairly big room with a largish audience this can be a problem unless there is a good public address (PA) system and someone is running mic's to the questioner.
  • If there is no microphone for the audience, get into the habit of repeating the question for the rest of the participants. They will love you for doing this.  Have you ever been in an audience and not been able to hear half the conversation!?
  • If you are serious about using speaking as a marketing strategy and want to maintain some level of control around how well you are heard, I recommend investing in a modest PA system of your own such as the Hisonic HS120B.

The Hissonic (or similar system) will save you a lot of annoying moments for both you and your audience if the room PA is poor.

8. Avoid "Death by Power Point"

Using too much power point is not the way to become a motivational speaker

If you use PowerPoint (and personally I never have), don’t just stand there and read off your PowerPoint slides - that is absolutely not the way to engage and motivate your audience.

Make sure your PowerPoint presentation is used just as a prompt, an anchor or a summary and is interesting to look at, with graphics or pictures rather than just words.

One of my most successful presentations was at the end of the first day of a conference in Melbourne, late in the afternoon, when the audience was tired and literally suffering “death by PowerPoint”,  after numerous informative but boring presentations.

I had been invited to talk about networking (I had framed it up as "Networking as a Tool to Achieving Your Goals"), and had the audience up, moving, interacting and having fun.

Because I engaged the participants in activities, I got the highest speaker rating at that conference, even though my information was pretty basic and not even that much on topic.

It also got me new clients!

9. Customise your presentation to the audience

  • When you first approach a networking or business organisation you would like to present for, find out what sort of subjects their members are requesting information on.

  •   If you know what they are looking for, you can frame up your proposal to match and adapt    your content to suit. Let’s face it, many aspect of life coaching can be customised to suit        almost any industry or situation.
  • Before your actual presentation, take the trouble to familiarise yourself with the profession or industry so you can drop in information that relates to your audience. It shows you have done your homework about them and are not just giving a rote presentation. 

10. Get feedback and testimonials for your presentation

Feedback is an essential ingredient on your journey to become a great motivational speaker.

  • Ask the organizer of the speaking event to give you a written testimonial about your presentation.
  • If the event is small, ask participants to write comments or testimonials on a supplied sheet that you hand out during your live presentation. They can be left on the seat and picked up afterwards. The comments can be anonymous or people can leave their name. (N.B. You may need to have a supply of extra pens or pencils with you each time.) See also Tip 11.
  • Larger, corporate events are often given a list of questions to fill about their satisfaction with the whole event and each speaker. Make make sure you have an arrangement to get a copy of these as they will be invaluable as feedback on what you may need to work on. 
  • Wherever and however you get feedback, get into the practice of adding it to your testimonials. Don't be too upset if someone didn't like you - you can't please everyone - it's the overall rating that matters. 

11. Get contact details of your audience

When you first become a motivational speaker your grassroots relationships are the building blocks of your future speaking career. Wherever you can, build a contact list.

You will obviously have the contact details of the person who organised you to speak but you may also want to add the members of a networking group or community function to your mailing list so you can keep in touch. 

One way to do this is to offer a prize such as a book or a free session and draw the winner from business cards you have collected.  I'd do this pretty close to the beginning of your presentation so you don't forget.  After the presentation you can send out an email saying how great it was to have them as an audience and inviting them to join your mailing list/newsletter. 

And always remember to always write and thank the organiser for inviting you!

12. Mingle with your audience

I have observed many great speakers doing this. If you have the opportunity, mingle and chat with the audience before you speak. This has two advantages.

  • They become familiar with you and have a different relationship with you once you are on stage.
  • You become a little familiar with who they are and where they are coming from and can even refer to them during the presentation.  

Take the opportunity to mingle after the event, as well.  Have a table setup before your presentation begins, at the back of the room or in the lobby, with your products and information. This will give you a base to work from and provide a central point to tell attendees where you will be waiting for them.

5 Tips and resources so your public event runs smoothly

Ask any speaker how their presentation went and, in many cases the “glitches” were not caused by their content or delivery, but by peripheral things that went wrong in the room and could have been avoided.  

Often the peripheral things are invisible until they occur. Seemingly insignificant things such as how the chairs are distributed and how handouts will be distributed, will greatly affect how the audience receives you and how you profit from your speaking efforts.

Here are five seminar preparation tips that can save the day on your way to become a motivational speaker, specifically for live, face to face events.

1. Create your own master checklist

List everything you need to be provided for you or to take with you. Things like flip-charts, screens, microphones, Wifi, products to sell, handouts, spare pens, business cards, microphones, parking - yes parking and so on..  Never assume what will be provided - including parking.  Always check with the organiser. Avoid the "Oh I thought you were bringing your own." scenario.

2. Confirm attendance numbers

Confirm the expected number attending the day before so you have enough handouts. Always taking a few extra handouts just in case.

3. Do a check on how the room is set up, well before you present

Arrive early so you can check on things like the position of the lectern, glare on a screen and the seating configuration. Make sure you will be visible from all seats.  Don't be afraid to ask for things to be changed. 

If you possibly can visit the venue in advance and test-run your equipment, microphone, audience microphones, screens etc. And, maybe more importantly, if you are relying on the equipment being offered by the venue, make sure that is working properly.

4. Have some help

If possible, have someone come with you as a support. This person can:

  • Handle parking the car if needed.
  • Help with the set up.
  • Find what's missing and resolve any related issues.
  • Manage the distribution of any  handouts.
  • Handle any product sales so you are free to talk with people.
  • Just be there for you, if you have last minute needs . 

5. Avoid mealtime distractions

  • If you are making your coaching presentation during a meal break, ask the organiser if they can avoid having you speak whilst the audience is eating. At least, ask them to wait until there is desert and coffee. It can be very difficult for a motivational speaker to be effective over the clinking, clanking and general serving activities 
  • If you don’t feel like eating before speaking, (I never do!) don’t let the kitchen dump food down in front of you the minute you sit down, after finishing your presentation. People are are usually reluctant to approach you for more information whilst you are eating and the opportunity to engage can be lost.   

Mastering Online Speaking

Becoming a motivational speaker as a life coach these days is not confined to face to face presentations.
 Video, Zoom and Skype have opened up a world of opportunity, enabling you to reach an audience anywhere and even interact with them almost as you would from the physical stage.

The general principles of putting together your online webinar or conference call are the same as my tips above. But, of course, there are some distinctions and techniques you will need to master.

Remember, a physical audience won’t usually be rude enough to walk out if they are bored or you are not giving them what they expect. However, all an online audience member has to do is click and you won’t even know you have lost them.

I have dedicated pages that cover online life coaching and group coaching and  both have some good tips that also apply to becoming an online presenter. I particularly recommend  the sections: Looking And Sounding Good and Remote Group Coaching 

Nevertheless, there are particular distinctions to know when speaking to an online group. So if that is how you are going to motivate and inspire your audience about your life coaching, here are 7 tips to make sure they stay with you and don’t click away after few minutes. 

7 Tips For Online Presentations 

1. Keep your introduction to who you are brief and relevant

An online audience wants you to quickly get down to the value you are offering. You can tell ALL about you in any promotional emails you send out or provide a link to the “about” page on your website or other online profile. Do don't waste time and lose your audience by telling your life story.

2. Tell them at the beginning the points you are going to cover

In other words future pace the group so they will stay engaged.
 This is even more useful than in face to face presentations because there are not always other visual cues to keep them engaged.

3. Let them know how you will end

Let them know there will be time for questions and some special offers at the end of your talk, such as a big discount on one of your coaching services or a giveaway of your book. In other words, continue to give them a reason for staying with you all the way through your presentation.

4. Get details of those who sign up

This may not always be possible with Privacy Laws if you are a guest speaker presenting to an online group. However, it's worth a try to ask if you can have a list of those who have signed up so you can do a follow up email. 

If you can't get a list, make an offer during the call that specifically they need to provide an email address to be able to take advantage of. For example, they may need to go to a website page and enter their name and email to download the item.

5. Do a test run of your equipment

 There is nothing more annoying  to your audience than having a host fiddle with camera and sound when you are waiting for them to get on with it. Do a test run before you start with a trusted support person.

6. Have a support team

If there are more than about 30 people on your online life coaching presentation, ensure you have a helper who can send you the questions that are appearing in the chat box. This is invaluable as a good person can send enquiries to specific website or FaceBook pages, get email addresses for later follow up, and send you the best questions for answering. This  enable you to give your full attention on the presentation.

7. Check how you look online

Make sure you audience is not looking up your nose.

Take the time to test the position of the camera on your mobile or computer to make sure you are seen as you want to be seen and don't have people looking up your nose or can't see you at all because you are in front of a window or some other distraction.

Attracting Clients Online

Of course on of the most important aspects of becoming an online coach is knowing how to get the word out there and attract some clients.  In other words - marketing. 

My colleague Cindy Schulson of Marketing From Within recently presented a brilliant webinar 3 Ways To Get Clients Online” for the Coaching Tools Company.  It’s beautifully put together with no hype or hard selling and lots and lots of great advice.  Have a listen, you won’t regret it. 

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Created and written by Wendy Buckingham, Class One Productions P/L. Sydney

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