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Personal Image & Communication Skills
Originally Posted 05/20/10

Nothing brings about more shear terror for most people than speaking in front of a group of other people staring at you at some type of speaking engagement.

Most everyone in the fitness industry speaks in front of groups at some point, or at least should be if you are working to grow your business. Standing in front of a Chamber luncheon talking about the advent of functional training and what it can mean for people over 40 is something every club owner should be doing several times a month. You get more members when you present because you build awareness and recognition for you and your business.

There is also a segment of the fitness business that wants to make standing in front of the group their lifeís work. These are the future Todd Durkins of the industry who want to be a guru and influence others as to your thoughts on training and how it should be done. Guys such as Todd, who is one of the best at motivating and conveying his information in the industry, put years into developing their personal philosophy and then more years into getting in front of others to change the thought process of the working fitness professional.

I have made my living speaking for over 30 years and I can bluntly say that you are combination of all your life experiences. My mind was set early that I wanted to be someone who could create change in an industry mired in outdated methods that didnít work and hurt the very consumer we were supposed to be helping.

But passion and a message donít make you a great speaker. There are a lot of people out there who have ideas that are needed, but these ideas die a quiet death because no one ever hears the message because the creator canít communicate. Your ability to communicate, which means you can present yourself well personally, speak in front of others, and write clearly and distinctly, are all much more important skills than most fitness professionals ever realize.

How many fitness professionals, for example, lose money because while they might be solid trainers they donít have basic personal presentation skills, such knowing how to dress and speak in front of their clients. Many fitness people balk at this stating that training ability should overcome any of those issues but that simply isnít the case.

You are only as good as your ability to convey your message as a professional and being a professional is a combination of dress, speaking skill and written word. If you arenít good at these three things, you will never make the money you should no matter how much training information resides in your head.

We call the process of mastering these three skills building your personal brand. For example, if you are a trainer and one of 10 on a staff, why arenít you working everyday to be the most professional of the group? Are you the best-dressed, best communicator and able to present your ideas clearly? If you arenít the best, than someone else is and thatís the person who will out earn you during the next 10 years.

I spent my early years in acting school, working with speaking coaches, and paying people to come to my workshops to write painful evaluations about how badly I sucked as a presenter and communicator. And I kept on with this process for over 20 years because I only had one goal: I wanted to be the best in the world at what I do, which is still something I work at endlessly because that goal is a journey and not a destination.

You also have to learn to respect your clients. If someone gives you money to train, money to hear you speak or money to join your club, then you have to respect that relationship and the person. For example, if you are a speaker, you dress for the people who pay to see you out of respect for their time and money. If you are a trainer, you dress well, groom well and speak well out of respect for the people who pay our bills. Information is useless if the delivery system is a distraction.

Building a personal brand means that you control every detail of how you are viewed by your client base. If you are seeking a career beyond your current job and want to be a national presenter, or have dreams of being the next Gray Cook or Alwyn Cosgrove, then understand that careers like those arenít random.

Speaking careers, and all the books and dvds that go along with it, are planned through years of hard work and that being a speaker is not a random act but learned behavior as part of your long-term personal development.

I get a lot of questions as to how to be a speaker who makes his living doing what I do. Here is the answer to all that ask. We are offering a speakerís school/personal development course in Providence, RI, on June 1-2, in conjunction with the Titleist Performance Institute (To register go to mytpi.com, look under seminars and go to the end). This course is taught by Greg Rose, the premiere speaker in the industry if golf fitness in the world and co-founder of TPI, and myself, a veteran of 30 years of being the front of the room guy.

This learning experience is for anyone who wants to work on his or her personal presentation skills and who might be seeking to be that person in the front of the room who is changing minds through powerful presentations. Recent attendees have been Alwyn and Rachel Cosgrove as well as Gray Cook, who all wanted additional help in becoming a higher-level presenter.

If your career is fitness and you want to be the best you can be, then start with who you are and how you present yourself because you are only as good as your personal image and communication

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