“Do I need \"Training\"? \"Coaching\"? \"Consulting\"? What if NONE of those are the right approach?”

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Recently, a company just south of San Diego contacted me to ask me to run a public speaking skills class for sixteen of their top managers.  I asked the cause for the class and heard back from “Candace”:

“Three of them just aren’t as good as the other thirteen, so we thought setting up a class for everyone would be a good idea, since probably everyone will get something out of it.

Does anyone see the flaw in this logic?  In doing training, thirteen people who don’t really need it (and may not care to be there) are devoting time, while the three who could really use attention are each going to get 1/16 of my attention. 

I tried to gently suggest that coaching the three would likely give them an outcome that was closer to their desires and Candace responded,

“Coaching?  Oh, no! Coaching is too long term and focuses on the client having to find the answers in themselves.  We’re just looking for you to tell them all in one day what they need to know.”  Oof!

So I said, “Well, officially that’s the way coaching is supposed to work, but because I’m focused specifically on public speaking skills, I’m really more of a consultant than traditional coach. So our time together is much more directed than in the coaching listening mode.”  That should have cleared that up, right?  Nope.

“A consultant?  Oh, no!  The last thing we need is someone coming in and changing the way everyone in the office does everything.  We just want to work on this problem.” 

Is that what the word consultant brings to mind for people?  Yikes.  Certainly, there are kinds of consultants who do 360 interviews, etc., that involve the whole office.  But my consulting is one-on-one to improve the person’s speaking ability! How was that going to upset the whole office?  It was just that word −  consultant − which is why I tend to say “coach”.

In the end, we did a very nice four-hour training that all present seemed to enjoy.  Candace approached me afterward, “I think everyone received some benefit, but the three who needed the most help didn’t get a lot of attention from you because there were so many others to include. Could you possibly work one-on-one with those three?”  It’s not often that this speaker is speechless….

The nature of trying to boil everything down to a single word that describes anything is problematic.  Maybe I should brand myself as a “coachsultant” but then I’d have to explain that constantly.

It’s also like that with texting a few words vs. writing a good email vs. picking up the phone.  Shortcuts are easier on us, but they don’t convey meaning the same way.

All of that said, I invite you to give a listen to the short video above where a handful of people who DID understand what I do got to share what they got from our time.  I’m very proud of what they have to say AND how this new video came out.  (It’s now the second video down on the home page of PublicDynamics.com.)

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