Why public speaking is a ‘must’ for fitness professionals
Learning how to communicate more effectively will help you to motivate clients, attract and convert new members and achieve greater success in your business, says Maggie Eyre.
Being a great communicator is an essential skill for personal trainers, coaches and, in fact, anyone involved in the fitness industry. Whether you’re working one-on-one, teaching a new skill or training regime, working with a team, delivering a speech, promoting your business or enlisting a sponsor, communicating with warmth, style, passion and focus should be at the heart of everything you do. I call it ‘creating presence’.
Too often, there’s a divide between those who put time and effort into good communication and those prepared to pick up the challenge of public speaking. Actually, it’s all the same skillset; it’s all about being persuasive, effective and memorable in a range of different forums.
At some stage, we all need to speak in public. In fact, people now spend so much time communicating in public it’s ironic that they invest so little time in getting it right.
As a personal trainer, learning how to communicate more effectively will help you to motivate your clients to dig deeper and to follow your leadership. It will also help you attract new clients and sell your services to prospects, because when you communicate clearly how you can help them achieve better health and fitness, they will believe you.
Even if you don’t plan to make public appearances or deal with the media, it’s important to present yourself as a confident speaker and communicator. Athletes and clients can learn a lot from the stories you tell, the key messages you give them, the way you teach the do’s and don’ts of working-out, exercising, practice, recovery and myriad other things.
Contrary to what you might believe, nerves are far less likely to be the ‘enemy’ of a good speech than lack of preparation and practice. If you are confident that you really know your stuff, it is more likely to translate into a confident presentation. So, start by setting a good example about getting the content right and pay less attention to nerves.
In my company Fresh Eyre, we mainly train people in presentation and communications skills and media training. We have a wide range of clients, from university academics and staff, to tourism, health and insurance professionals and high performance athletes. A substantial amount of my work is one-on-one coaching – just like yours.
Interestingly, all the key principles of high performance sports training apply to the training we offer; preparation, practice, management of nerves and high quality ‘do and review’ sessions are all part of what we do.
It’s sometimes hard to persuade a highly focused athlete that training in the softer skills of managing the media, communication, and public speaking are a worthwhile investment. These things may only be 5 per cent of what they do – but it’s a very important 5 per cent. Getting them wrong can be extremely stressful and have far-reaching consequences.
As author John Molloy says ‘you never get a second chance to make a good first impression’. Whether you appear on television, present online, run your first team meeting, or front up on day one at a new job, a good first impression always gets you off to a good start.
Important though this first impression is, however, making it last is the all-important trick.
Over the years, I’ve listened to hundreds of presentations and speeches in different countries – and in different contexts – from simple and personal to more complex and corporate. In the end, I always come back to this basic question: ‘How can I move, inspire and engage my audience?’
10 steps to speaking success
Following this Speak Easy 10 point plan will help give you the confidence to communicate convincingly and effectively, both in on-on-one and group settings:
- Do your homework
- Focus on what you want to say (The 1 Thing)
- Support it with two or three supporting messages
- Can the jargon – write it to speak it
- Bring it to life with stories, anecdotes and examples
- Provide context and back yourself with great statistics
- Develop a coherent structure and stick to it
- Hook your audience with a powerful introduction
- Tie it all up with a strong ending
- Review, read it aloud (constantly) and edit, edit, edit!
Above all, be authentic, passionate and memorable!
Maggie Eyre is an acclaimed presentation skills coach and trainer, providing training through her company Fresh Eyre to clients around the globe. Her new book Speak Easy is available from Exisle Publishing and wherever good books are sold.