The Way I Was

4 steps to gaining clients for your consulting, training, coaching or motivational speaking business

Tracy Lee Karner
Richard Austin coaches a client in story-telling, voice techniques, and how to use humor appropriately.

Are you (or do you aspire to be) a coach, trainer, speaker or consultant? If you want to build a larger client base, Richard Austin suggests you take these four steps:

  1. Understand who your audience is/who your potential clients are. Know their desires, needs and dreams. Know where to find your clients (what are they searching for online and where do they hang out in your geographical sphere/network). Meet people and present yourself.
  2. Engage your prospective clients in purposeful conversation. Get them to ask questions such as “How will that happen?” and “What do you mean?” For example, tell them, “I help people overcome their fear of public speaking,” so they’ll ask, “How do you do that?”
  3. Listen to them so you can identify their problem(s).
  4. Show the value of what you’re offering--don’t list the features of what you do; tell them what problem(s) you can solve for them. For example, instead of saying, “My six-hour seminar costs $200,” say, “My seminar helps you develop the stage-presence and communication skills to immediately grab and control your listeners, whether you are speaking to a small meeting or a convention.”

It’s all about effective communication–choosing the right words and presenting ourselves (in speech or writing) skillfully so that our prospective clients can see what we’re talking about. They need to understand how our service will help solve their problems and advance them toward their goals. We need to tell a story–because people are hardwired to understand and connect to stories.

As owner of Speaking of Success, Richard Austin provides workshops, seminars and coaching to help people overcome their fear of the spotlight so they can take the stage with star-quality, whether they speak in small business situations (such as job interviews and meetings), whether they present to groups and give keynote addresses, or whether they write business communications to persuade, motivate or instruct readers.

Richard’s speech is calm, measured, and thoughtful. He talks in a reassuring and confident manner that belies the painfully embarrassing life-long stutter he works to overcome. He has honest empathy for his clients and their struggles because he  knows, from the inside-out, what it’s like to overcome a fear of speaking. As a child he wanted blueberry pancakes but wouldn’t order them in a restaurant. The word blueberry could trigger his stutter.

Richard knows what it feels like to fail when communicating. He knows how it feels when you start talking and people become so uncomfortable that they obviously want nothing more than to just get away from you. It feels like you’ve been karate-kicked in the liver.

We live in a star-struck world, and those who speak and present themselves with personality and confidence are rewarded with greater success. Yet few people have a natural talent for sitting/standing in the hot seat while maintaining a cool demeanor. Most average people, when presenting, fail to wow the audience. But with proper coaching, speaking and presentation skills can be learned, practiced and improved upon–what to say, how to say it, how to control vocal tone, volume, pace & pitch.

But for many people to stand on the platform and sparkle, or to deliver a report with pizazz in a meeting, they must first overcome their fear of making a public spectacle of themselves. A lot of coaches can tell clients what they need to know, but Richard also understands people’s reluctance, their struggles, and their fears. His inherent empathy helps builds a relationship of trust with his clients, and that trust can give them courage to take risks and build success.

If you’re determined to become a better speaker/presenter and need some expert, empathetic coaching or advisement, contact Richard Austin through his website, Speaking of Success, or email him at info@speakingofsuccess.com

***Register for Richard’s seminar:

Fearless, Practical, Successful Public Speaking

in Kingston, Rhode Island (Feb 5, 12, 19 & 26, 2014) and get one free hour of one-on-one coaching.

What fears/obstacles have you overcome (or do you need to yet overcome) in order to communicate (speak or write) more effectively?

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37 thoughts on “4 steps to gaining clients for your consulting, training, coaching or motivational speaking business”

  1. I would love to be able to present. A long time ago I thought I would never be able to do any of the things I can do now, but presentation really is the one skill that eludes me because I have never had to do it in a job.

    I’d like to be able to present because sometimes I just feel so interested and excited in things and would like to share that with a group instead of feeling overcome with the bright lights and many faces starting at me.

    I’ve asked for presentational skills training at work and they are getting it together – but it’s a pity I can’t get Richard to provide it!

    Thank you for reminding me of my goals.

    1. It’s wonderful that you work for a company that gets together the training you ask for!

      Presentation is largely a matter of knowing what to do and practicing it, I think, and, of course, overcoming the feeling of being overwhelmed or intimidated. If you can climb a rock wall–you can present!

      1. I work for a public organisation and public bodies tend to be good and fair employers, as far as can be accommodated within budgets. I am very lucky!

        I am sure there are tips to do with communicating with the audience. I mean, I am someone who had to be shown how to do this with real people in every day life! But I got there (mostly) in the end.

  2. I used to present staff training sessions which were actually quite informal but I always dreaded doing them – until one day I wore my glasses. Just having that barrier between me and them made all the difference and since then, whenever I present to a group, I put on my specs. Psychological it may be, but it works for me!

    1. That’s an important bit of information, Jenny. I think most presenters need psychological tricks–it’s a matter of knowing ourselves.

      I’m not naturally comfortable in front of groups, I’m very shy. But I did a lot of acting when I was young (partly to overcome my debilitating shyness) and learned that when I was playing a role, the role itself was a barrier between me and the audience. Now, whenever I present, I put on my Presenter Character (who is not shy, but outgoing and confident). I know I’m really only faking it, but it works for me!

  3. When I was younger I used to be dreadfully afraid of speaking in front of the class. I’ve always been a shy and quiet soul that enjoys the company of a few close friends as opposed to a larger group. Interestingly, one things I’ve always struggled with is networking functions. It’s always a challenge mingling with complete strangers. For some reason when I’m giving a presentation at work I’m more at ease because there’s a barrier of some sort. But small talk with strangers sends me running for the hills!

    1. I’m thinking maybe I should write a book on how to be “out there” when you’re an introvert. Because I totally understand how you feel–mingling with strangers used to freak me out (and sometimes, when I’m tired or feeling vulnerable, still does).

      I’m not exactly sure, though, how I overcame my terror of talking to strangers. It did have something to do with deciding to “play a part.” It’s not that I’m fake or phony (I simply can’t be phony about who I am or what I think/believe), but playing various roles gave me options–stretched me. I still, however, have to psyche myself up for “networking” or “cocktail parties.” I enjoy them in very small doses. But they exhaust me, because I’m doing something that doesn’t come naturally to me, that requires a lot of focussed energy.

      1. I’m willing to bet that tactic would be helpful for me. Something akin to putting on my “game face” for such functions. We had our work Christmas party last week and by the time it was finished I was completely drained and ready to come home and recharge for the evening!

        It’s funny because Matt is a total extrovert so we have to balance our events to make sure he gets the interaction he needs and I still have time to recharge. One of my friends recommend the book “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking”. It’s still on my to-read list, but I’m looking forward to getting around to it!

        1. Books-Schmooks! You’ve already got all the important stuff figured out (smart You!!). Don’t waste any of your precious time listening to any so-called experts. Just follow your impeccable instincts, and you and Matt will be fine for the long-haul…

  4. I can talk to strangers with great ease, but put me in front of a group and ask me to speak, I get major red blotches on my neck. 😦 When I was in the mortgage business, I was comfortable doing my presentation in front of a husband and wife, but throw in a few more people and I was out of my comfort zone.

    1. It’s definitely out of my comfort zone, too. I still, after years of presentations and performances, get butterflies. People tell me I look completely at ease and relaxed, but that’s not how I feel. Talking to an “audience” is intimidating–all eyes focussed on you (and if they’re not, then you know you’re really doing something wrong!) That’s why so many of us need help overcoming our anxieties.

  5. This is an insightful post on several angles; firstly, on Richard Austin’s work itself (which sounds amazing); secondly, on becoming a better coach by showing empathy and understanding to clients; and thirdly, showing what benefit the client will receive.
    Thanks and I hope that Richard is now able to enjoy blueberry pancakes.

    1. Yes, his work is amazing, and yes to the blueberry pancakes. The only reason I knew he has to continually struggle to overcome his stutter is because he told me so.

      I think almost every interaction ought to be all about empathy–don’t you?

        1. I suppose nobody is empathetic enough–the important thing is to try to be conscious of others’ feelings and needs, and to make the effort to improve.

          P.S. Is that your line “how we remember the times we forget, and forget the times we remember.” Very insightful.

  6. These 4 tips are very helpful as I look for clients for my consulting practice. I enjoy presenting and have done well when speaking of a cause I worked for. I struggle with selling myself, my skills, the knowing that I can empower organizations to engage with their communities.

    1. It’s really difficult to put the abstract ideas of “empowerment” and “engagement” into concrete problem-solving terms.

      (P.S. Richard is a member of that collaborative entrepreneurial group I was telling you about…)

    1. Thanks, Marylin. I do think that sharing our stories is one of the best ways to build understanding and create empathy for one another. It means a lot to me, very encouraging, that you picked up on the selective details (I was trying to paint a vivid picture in as few words as possible).

  7. I’ve always had a weird fear of presenting and speaking in front of audiences. Not sure why, I guess I always had that feeling that I could control conversation in a small group, but felt completely defenseless in bigger crowds…

    I had no problem performing rehearsed plays or skits (Fastnacht helped with its annual skit presentations, then I played several lead roles in a theater group I was part of), but in professional settings I felt totally insecure.

    I think in the end what helped was just being thrown in the cold water: Having to teach 25 fourth semester students all of a sudden, then being asked to do a lecture before 100 students, and then, the craziest thing, doing lectures before a full Auditorium Maximum with up to 450 students…I learned to assume a persona that I become when I speak in front of people, a persona that incorporates key characteristics of myself (relatable, friendly), but also is a bad ass in that he is overly confident (not cocky, just sure of himself), funny, and self-deprecating. I found out that that really works well.

  8. What is it about public speaking that terrifies so many? I remember when I took myself off to our local community college for one day a week to take a Word & Desktop Publishing course when my children were quite little. All was going well until our tutor announced that instead of having an end of year exam, we would be required to make and present a Power-Point presentation in front of the entire class about something we had learnt during the course of our studies!! I was absolutely petrified at the thought. Somehow I managed it, and, as it turned out, I quite enjoyed it in the end but boy, was I ever relieved to have that over and done with!

    I was also my son’s cub scout leader for a couple of years and had to present his Arrow of Light’s ceremony as the main speaker. My heart was jumping about all over the place and that was the last time I ever did anything like that I’m pleased to say, phew 😉

    It must be wonderful to be able to present in public but since I don’t see much call for it in my life, certainly not at present, I am happy not to have to think about it for the moment, but great tips here Tracy if I ever should have to, and thank you in advance 🙂

    1. You’re right, you don’t have to think about it now, but if you publish a book, Sherri, you very well may have to speak in public–it’s expected of authors these days that they will publicly promote themselves and their writing.

      In answer to the question of what the fear is and where it comes from–every case is slightly different. The source of our fear needs to be identified, and then we can deal with it. Forbes has a good article about that…. http://www.forbes.com/sites/susanadams/2012/03/07/why-public-speaking-scares-you-and-how-to-overcome-your-fears/

      For now, don’t think about it much. But in a year or so, you might want to start thinking about it. Because you’re right, it is wonderful to be able to present/speak in public. It’s very empowering, and it’s fun.

      1. Yes, I understand about the empowering bit. I certainly did have a sense of that at the time but so glad when it was over with!

        Many thanks for the Forbes link which I will take a look at.

        Good point, I didn’t think of that with regards to having to publicly promote my book when the time comes. Yikes! Meanwhile, I will continue to bury my head in the sand about that point but I look to you to gently remind me nearer the time … 😉

    1. I somewhat understand that feeling, Francesca. I tremble when I’m in front of an audience, but something inside of me wants to do it anyway.

      I don’t think that everyone should have to “get over” their fear of being in front of an audience. It’s not necessarily the most important thing to do. But I’m happy to let people know that there is help for those who want to conquer that fear, people who want to be presenter or speaker, despite their trepidation. (But honestly, I too, would rather write one hundred pages than speak in public for five minutes.)

  9. I believe that public speaking and presenting is way up there in the list of out greatest fears so anything that helps those fears recede has to be a good thing. I am super shy but strangely I enjoy public speaking and I am a member of Toastmasters. 😉

    1. Same with me–I’m shy but actually enjoy being on stage. And it’s easier for me to be on stage than to make small talk, although I have learned how to do that, too. But I really have to be “up” for it. It helps that I really like people and find their stories fascinating.

      I do much better when I can get people to talk about themselves. When they start asking me a lot of questions, I freeze up, stammer, can think of nothing interesting to say….

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