Here are the answers to some questions people often ask me, not about public speaking as such but about the way I work. Most of these questions are addressed elsewhere on the website too, but they are answered here for your ease of reference.
If you have a question that’s not on this list, please contact me directly and I’ll be happy to answer it.
Do you offer group training courses or only one-to-one coaching?
I don’t run open courses but I do train groups of compatible people from the same organisation. You can read more about this on the Public Speaking Coaching page.
If you would like to discuss a group course for members of your organisation, please contact me.
Where does the coaching take place?
I usually meet my clients at their workplaces, if there is a suitable space for it. We need somewhere you can speak out without being overheard and therefore feeling self-conscious, big enough that we can visualise roughly the size of audience you will be addressing in real life. Other than these stipulations, it doesn’t matter at all what kind of space it is.
If you haven’t got anywhere suitable or would prefer it, we can hire a meeting room somewhere. In city centres, this will usually add quite considerably to the cost of your session, but in the suburbs and smaller towns rooms can be hired for pretty reasonably rates, some as low as £10.
Where are you based?
I’m based in south Manchester but I travel extensively throughout the UK.
If you’re far outside Manchester, I’ll have to charge you for travel time and expenses but, for a group course or – even better – if several people can have one-to-one coaching on the same day, you’ll still get excellent value even if you’re a long way away.
How long does a session last?
For one-to-one coaching, my standard is an hour and a half. If you’re up against a deadline and feel an hour and a half may not be enough, we can do a double (3-hour) session, if you’d like to. If you’re not up against a deadline, you will probably get more benefit from two 90-minute sessions with a week or so in between.
For groups, it varies, depending mainly on the number of participants.
What are your fees?
For groups, it depends exactly what is involved.
For one-to-one coaching, my fees are £165 a session, which includes local travel (broadly, this means within the M60 Manchester ring road). It doesn’t include any room-hire costs but, depending where we go, these don’t have to be much.
If you’re a serious distance from Manchester, it may not be cost-effective for us to meet for an hour and a half – unless I happen to be in your area anyway. If you’re flexible with your dates, this can happen, so it’s always worth asking.
How many sessions will I need to get good at public speaking?
Of course, everyone is different, but the average is two 90-minute sessions. Those who are particularly nervous about public speaking, and/or are preparing for an enormous event such as an international conference, sometimes choose to have three sessions, but it’s very rare for anyone to need more.
Usually, people learn a great deal in the first session and then want a second session to consolidate what they’ve learnt and to polish their skills.
Those who are inexperienced at public speaking but not especially nervous tend to master it most quickly. Over the years, I’ve had a huge number of clients in this category who have transformed from bumbling ducklings to graceful swans in one session.
Can you help me write my speech or presentation?
If you want me to, yes, I can. Mostly, once a client has learnt the best way to approach composing a talk, he/she is fine to take it from there. But sometimes people ask for help with the content and I’m happy to provide it. I can help you focus your ideas, structure your speech or presentation, hone the wording and design any slides you want to show. We won’t be able to do all this in one session, however. It takes a lot of work to get all this right but I can be involved as much as you want me to.
I’m not just nervous, I’ve got a serious phobia of public speaking. Can you help me?
Yes. We’ll make a two-pronged attack on your phobia and overcome it in almost certainly not more than three sessions. First, we’ll work on the practical side. Once you’ve nailed the techniques and know you really know what you’re doing, this will go a long way to solving the problem.
Alongside this, we’ll work on the psychological aspects. I can explore with you the possible reasons for your fear, with a view to helping you heal it at source. If you have serious issues, the mind-over-matter, pull-yourself-together-and-just-do-it approach can sometimes do more harm than good. I spent four years studying transactional analysis psychotherapy, which has given me insight into the pernicious hold past experiences can have on us. I lay no claim to being a psychotherapist but I have found with many clients that a few probing questions have helped them to understand what is going on for them. Seeing the issue for what it really is can often be enough to dissolve it.
English is not my first language. Can you help me?
Yes – this is actually one of my specialities. I spent many years teaching English as a foreign language, both abroad and in Britain, and I’m very familiar with the issues involved. I teach public speaking to people from all over the world, some of whom find English quite difficult.
Can you please be discreet about my coaching?
Yes. I’m aware a lot of people would rather nobody knew they were having public speaking coaching. If I come to your office, I’ll simply say I’ve got a meeting with you. If we’re working on a presentation or speech with confidential content, you can rely on my discretion in that area too.
I can see how coaching would help me. Can I learn public speaking skills from an ebook?
Face-to-face coaching is the quickest and most effective way to learn public speaking skills. However, a book or ebook that clearly explains the techniques and gives useful advice is the next best thing.
My ebook tells you everything you need to know to become a strong, confident public speaker, from overcoming nerves through mastering the skills to handling any problems that may arise on the day. Of course, I couldn’t personalise it to you, as I can with one-to-one training, but it’s all in there.