Haris Ahmed of Chicago Firm Pragmatium Consulting Inc. on Public Speaking Coaches
Haris Ahmed (Chicago) management consulting firm Pragmatium Consulting Group Inc. has personally coached over 100 leaders from public and private corporations alike, not-for-profits, and the federal sector.
There’s no doubt that honing one’s public speaking skills can bring tremendous personal and professional benefits. But should you join a respectable organization like Toastmasters or hire a dedicated public speaking coach to train you?
Toastmasters vs. Public Speaking Coach
To begin with, both options are viable means to improve your communication skills. Toastmasters is known for grooming some of the most confident and persuasive public speakers who have become leaders. They have put up numerous chapters all over the country so chances are, you can find a local Toastmasters club not too far away from your home or office. They also take pride in building a supportive atmosphere where you can learn and grow from the feedback given to you by other members who happen to be on the same boat as you are. All in all, Toastmasters remains the incubator of choice of many business leaders, executives, coaches, and other professionals who want to polish their communication skills.
What about public speaking coaches? With a coach or mentor, you can get one-on-one training and tweak your sessions according to your goals. For instance, if you’re pitching a business idea or giving a speech for a loved one’s wedding, you can ask to be guided on that specific task and still have a supportive environment with constructive feedback. Public speaking coaches are great when you want to hone your skills faster because it’s their job to ensure you’re making progress. This doesn’t mean, however, that you’ll be left alone in Toastmasters; it’s just that you’ll have the luxury to delve deeper into your communication issues and work on fixing them when you collaborate with a public speaking coach. For instance, he/she will evaluate your tone, pacing, word choice, and gestures, to name a few.
If you think you’ll thrive better alone, or are more comfortable with the idea of practicing in front of a few before you face bigger crowds, then working with a public speaking coach may turn out to be a better experience. A short engagement may also work here as well. The only caveat to public speaking coaches is that you may have to spend time finding one that you’d jive well with. This is because public speaking coaches vary in their styles and strategies. You want to find one who will work with what you already have and make them better. A coach that may dictate too much of this and that can make you appear forced and contrived to the audience. Safe to say, this lack of authenticity or rigidness can backfire on you and your speech.
In this sense, Toastmasters has one up over public speaking coaches. Their program has been tried and tested on thousands of individuals and they have an established pathway to your transformation as a distinguished public speaker.
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