Here are some key attributes to look for when hiring:
They listen to you.
It would be very encouraging to learn that public speaking and executive presence could be achieved in a few simple steps that anyone could accomplish. In reality, each of us is a unique communicator, which is why a one-size-fits-all approach rarely (if ever) works when developing presentation skills.
A worthy communication coach will listen to you — not just your immediate concerns and questions, but also your voice, speech, intonations, breath, background, aspirations and goals. They must be able to get a clear a picture of you as an individual in order to enhance and refine that authentic voice that will make you stand out.
They go beyond the aspirational slogans and get to the root of the problem.
Having a coach with a positive attitude is certainly important, but simply relying on a pep talk to manifest itself won’t take you very far in your professional journey.
The changes you are looking for are habitual, deep, and behavioral. It is not always easy, and it shouldn’t be. Developing your leadership presence and communication skills is a lot of work, but the benefits of lasting change due to hard work is more than worth it in the end.
When talking to friends and colleagues who have attended various training programs, I will ask them what they learned. They too often say “I don’t remember.” The reason for this is they were not given meaningful tools for them—they were given cookie-cutter, band-aid ideas to solve their communication problems. There are many paths to a destination, and not everyone should take the same one. As I stated above—a one-size-fits-all approach rarely works.
They practice what they preach.
When hiring a communication coach or a speech coach, look for qualities in them you want for yourself. If you are speaking with someone who is rambling on and on and not getting to the point—and one of your goals is to learn how to get the point—this is not your coach.
The same approach applies to your quest for leadership presence. If you are interviewing a coach who lacks authenticity and uses myriad filler words—and you are looking to advance in these areas—again, this is not your coach.
Rather, find someone who walks the walk and talks the talk. They don’t need to be in the same field of expertise as you, but they do need to be able to help you organize your ideas and demonstrate the skills themselves.
Think of finding the right coach as going on a first date—trust your instincts. Before making a commitment, be sure you know what they can deliver to bring your communication to the next level.