Cup of Coffee Coaching: How to Hire the Right Speaking Coach the First Time

A few weeks ago, I spoke at an NSA Chapter event. Just before my session, one of the Chapters “elders” gave a short talk on finding success as a speaker. In his speech, he warned the group that speakers should not hire a speaking coach, and they should beware of people preying on new speakers with ‘get-rich-quick’ systems. He went on to say that instead they should just call him to go for coffee if they wanted to know how to be successful. 

What the elder said didn’t really faze me. I think of myself as pretty honest and I know that there are more and more people getting into the “sell stuff to speakers” game every day. Some are legit, and some are not, thus the rise in the level of skepticism.  

Because of this, I thought it would be helpful to share a few tips to try and help you sort through all of your options for advancing your speaking career:


There is a huge difference between having a cup of coffee with a mentor and hiring a coach. Of course, I can only speak for myself, but my “business” is to help speakers succeed. I do this full time. I have formulas and strategies, and I’ve written books on the topic of being successful in speaking. Most (not all) mentors will have a cup of coffee with you, perhaps answer your questions via email, but remember that they have a business to run as well.


Before diving into any product or service that speaks of getting rich quick and promises outcomes that seem a bit too good to be true, do your homework. Ask around. I get promotions via snail mail and email that make me shudder. I think to myself “who falls for this?” Guess what? There are people who will hand their money over without investigating and often feel ripped off.

[Tweet “Looking to hire a #speaking #coach? Here are 4 tips to ensure you do it right!”]


My coach had me sign a 2-page agreement when we got started. It was reasonable, and I know if I hit upon some financial issues, they would help me out. However, I’ve seen 10-page iron clad contracts that lock you in so tightly; it is nerve wracking. A long contract is a sign that you need to investigate more. If it scares you, then listen to your gut.


Some of the best money I ever spent was for NSA’s Cancun Book Writers Retreat in 2011. Even if I did not apply anything that I learned, the 3-Day Bootcamp inspired me enough to get off the mark and write my first book. I thought I was buying “how to” write a book, but what I was really buying was the motivation to get it done. Many of my clients need someone to help guide their strategy and decision making and to hold them accountable for moving forward. Your goal is to simply be clear on exactly what you need before you set out to find the person who can help.

There are plenty of places to spend your hard earned money. Exercise due diligence, know what you need, and be sure to ask around for references before committing to anything. A cup of coffee with a mentor may be all that you need, or perhaps you need a coach. Ultimately, that will be up to you to decide.

Have advice for finding the right coach or story you want to share? Share it in the comments below with all our Wealthy Speakers!

See you soon Wealthy Speakers!

Jane Signature - Clean




P.S. Check out our great Spring Specials in our Bookstore! They are a great way to start moving your speaking business towards greater success!

  • Pauline Duncan-Thras

    As always good advice from Jane. My caution, based on personal experience focuses on knowing your priorities and making sure that the coach you choose is on the same wavelength. I invested a significant amount of money because I responded to the moment of excitement when hearing a rousing video presentation in a room filled with people who all wanted to be successful . Being sold on coaching is quite different than taking time to rationally determine your needs, goals, values and budget. Only when you know that your coach and you are connected with the same vision should you move forward. Hope that is helpful for those contemplating investing in coaching. Positively, Pauline Duncan-Thrasher

    • speakerlauncher

      Good point Pauline. I think when people get “hyped” during an event or a presentation, they are very susceptible to signing up for something that is not a good fit. I suppose that’s why so much marketing has gone in that direction. I can’t promise I won’t ever do that, but I can promise to do it in a way that weeds out those that truly can’t afford, or are not our target audience. Appreciate your input.