Speaker priorities: Hire an EDITOR before you hire a COACH!

I attended a very well-run meeting for speakers on Saturday. The meeting was well run, there was a ton of energy in the room, and the presenter had a wealth of valuable experience to share.

Over lunch, I heard a lot of buzz about coaching: coaching this and coaching that. Everyone, it seems, has at least one “coach,” and everyone, it seems, with a year’s worth of professional speaking experience is hanging out a shingle as a “coach.”

Okay, that’s all well and good. Lemme ask you a question, though: What’s the good of all this “coaching” if your promotional materials are full of punctuation and grammar mistakes, or—gasp—misspelled words?

I charge $110 an hour, and I can spot a typo at 50 paces. If I reviewed five or six double-sided handouts for you and found 15 punctuation/ grammar mistakes and two misspelled words in an hour-long review, would you feel that $110 was money well spent? Because, from where I’m sitting, when a presenter has multiple editing mistakes in his or her handouts (or PowerPoint, or website, or book, or whatever), it really calls into question that person’s credibility—I don’t care who you are or what you’ve done.

Basic mistakes mean—to me—that the presenter is not paying attention to details. And then, again to me, I wonder: If this person is so cavalier about what is given the audience, is he or she playing fast and loose with any data, details, or other pertinent information? In other words: What else can’t I trust?

I personally feel it’s time to raise the writing bar.  Writing is the flip side of speaking, and it’s all communication. Coaching is all well and good, but—please—pay attention to your marketing materials as well.