It happens often. The phone rings, and on the other end is a panicked voice asking for an appointment for speaker training right away. “When are you speaking?” we ask. “Next May,” he replies (over six months from now).
Don’t Rush the Chicken
Training is like cooking a chicken – take it out too soon and it’s raw and not ready to eat. You can’t rush the chicken, just like you can’t rush the training. The process works smoothly when you build in time for both preparation and training.
But if the training is scheduled too far in advance, the spokesperson may not be as sharp and well prepared as necessary. That’s why the training should take place closer to the appearance or presentation date when the key learnings are still top of mind.
The timing needs to be just right.
Some executives believe that that setting up a training session involves nothing more than a phone call and choosing a date. But an effective training session requires planning and preparation. You can’t force it. There isn’t a pill you can take that will make you a captivating speaker or a media darling.
You’ve got to put in the time. Too many individuals expect to schedule a session and be perfect within an hour. It doesn’t work that way.
We collaborate with the individual and the PR person before the training even starts so we understand the context of the engagement and what she wants to say. It’s also important to understand the needs of the audience or reporter. What information do they want and need to know?
This mutual collaboration is highly effective in helping to develop the key messages the executive wants to communicate. Then he must carve out time to practice to become comfortable with the material and nail the delivery.
Timing is Everything
We’ve worked with authors who endure long lead times before their books are published. They are a little like race horses just waiting for the gate to open so they can be off and running on promotional tours.
But it can be a year or more before a book is actually available to the public. So we advise patience and to defer the training until much closer to the publication date.
Timing the training is important for busy CEOs, too. They often have too much on their plates to even think about training, even when they need it for a media interview with The Wall Street Journal, or presenting to key industry analysts.
There’s no point in forcing the training, as the CEO will not be receptive and it will be a no-win for everyone. Once more urgent matters are resolved, schedule the coaching session for a time when the CEO will be receptive and appreciative.
Timing is everything.
Just like you can’t rush the chicken, you can’t rush the training when you aspire to be the best.