Presentation Coach: Conversation with Sandra Schrift

Presentation Coach: Conversation with Sandra Schrift

Created: Thursday, January 20, 2011 posted by at 10:24 am

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Sandra Schrift

Sandra SchriftSandra Schrift is the president/owner of CoachSchrift and Associates, a San Diego based consulting, training and coaching firm. Since 1996, Sandra has been coaching speakers who want to become highly paid professional speakers as well as executives and business professionals who want to develop persuasive presentations. She is connected to her international clientele by telephone and email. She also works in-house with organizations on their communication and presentation skills. Sandra started the first national, professional speakers’ bureau in San Diego in 1982 and brokered over 1500 professional speakers to the meetings industry nationally and internationally. Her clients included a variety of corporations, associations and medium and large size companies. Her speaker clients included well known celebrities, sports coaches, media personalities and other people who speak on a wide range of business and personal topics.

In this conversation, Sandra talks about her experiences in being a presentation coach.

Geetesh: Can you tell us more about your role as a presentation coach, and how it helps wannabe presenters, or even anyone who wants to become better at what they do.

Sandra: I typically work with three types of clients. Since I formerly owned a national Speakers Bureau and brokered professional speakers to groups that had meetings all over the U.S. and somewhat internationally, I know what a speaker needs to know and do to launch a career as a well paid professional speaker. I also work with the experienced professional speaker who needs more help with selling themselves and marketing their services to meeting planners, associations and corporations. Another client is the business professional/CEO type who realize that public speaking is the #1 way to advance their career. Many come to me to learn how to be more motivational and persuasive in their presentations. If they integrate between the calls, what we discuss on the calls, they will get the results they want and deserve in a short time. More recently, I also have been working with teenagers and young adults who want to improve their communication and presentation skills. I am familiar with this age group as I was a high school teacher and enjoy working with young people.

From time to time, I work in-house with a group within an organization on their communication and presentation skills. To see the types of people who have been my clients and the results we achieved, please visit

Geetesh: What are the challenges that presenters face while speaking in front of an audience, syncing with their slides, or practicing – and how does your involvement help them.

Sandra: There are mixed reviews on giving a PowerPoint presentation. PowerPoint is a passive form of communication and cannot help you establish rapport with your audience. Some presenters cling to their slides and others use the slides in an interesting, informative and entertaining way to enhance their presentation. The second is more popular with audiences. I tell my clients not to use PowerPoint slides as a substitute teleprompter. In other words, do not read aloud what is on your screen to the audience. Attendees will cringe! Augment and discuss, rather than mimic what’s on your screen.

Here are a few suggestions:

  1. Let the screen go blank from time to time. Get closer to your audience to establish contact and then tell them a story (personal is powerful) that supports your point(s). People delineate their thoughts visually and we all (children and grownups too) love to hear stories.
  2. Never place more than 3 to 5 points on each slide. Attendees can not absorb too much more than that. Make it conversational – uncomplicated and direct. Stay away from complex and compound sentences. Drop any jargon. Keep it simple.
  3. A picture can save a thousand words – so true. So give ‘em pictures, graphs, cartoons, photos, video clips. There are so many graphic options available to us today. Use vibrant colors to convey your message and emotion.
  4. The Coach sez . . .practice, practice, practice your presentation. It is more important for you to practice your delivery than to tweak your slides. “Remember that you are creating slides to support a spoken presentation.”
  5. Attendees like handouts – but do not distribute them during your presentation – only at the end. Why would you want your audience reading from a handout while you are speaking to them?
  6. Be sure to have the room well lit so that everyone can see your face when you speak. Often, I have seen business speakers and executives speak in the dark so that attendees can see their slides. Not a good idea. You lose connection with your audience when they can not see your face.
  7. Finally, PowerPoint is a valuable support technology. Make it serve you and your message. Your audience wants to connect with you, not pages of complex slides.

Let me help you craft and deliver a great speech that is supported by your PowerPoint, when appropriate.

Geetesh: How do you do coaching – you once did tell me that all coaching is not always in person, and you use technologies like Skype successfully. And how does one get in touch with you?

Sandra: I coach my one to one clients by phone and in person. Skype allows me to work with many global clients, as long as they speak English. It is helpful and fun to use video with Skype – I get to see my global clients as well as hear them give their presentations. Sometimes clients mail me a DVD or send me a link to one of their presentations. We also use email as needed – no extra charge for this service. After you visit my website to learn more about what I can offer you, then contact me by email to set up a complimentary coaching call to see if we have a fit. My contact information also includes my phone number. My office is in San Diego, California (Pacific time zone).

Categories: delivery, interviews

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