Coaching On Speed

Dear Debra: I'm a small business owner, a publicist, currently short on clients. I'm belt-tightening, but have already paid for a vendor table at an upcoming entrepreneurship conference. I'm trying to come up with creative ways to build interest and get myself some serious new clients at this event. Any ideas?

Offer complimentary speed coaching at your booth to give prospective clients a taste of why they should hire you. (Think speed dating.)

Kinko’s will print a poster matted on foam board, 30” high by 20” wide for around $65. It should read: “Complimentary 5-Minute Speed Coaching”. Include your business name, URL, and coaching topic. Include an image of products you offer, such as: “Million-Dollar P.R. on a Shoestring Budget 10-CD Crash Course - $99”.

My own sign reads, “Speed Coaching with Dr. Debra Condren: How To Earn Your Worth and Achieve Your Dreams” plus a graphic of my book.  Your topic could be: “How to Get Your Business Noticed by the Media—Fast”. 

Also print up simple numbered tickets, like those at your local deli counter (do this on your own printer). Next, send out an e-blast invite to folks who have signed up for your newsletters and updates inviting them to attend the conference (provide a sign up link) and to stop by your table for a complimentary speed coaching session with you.

At the conference, visitors walking by your table will become intrigued, take a number, then wait in line to get their five minutes of free advice (networking while they wait). Call out “Number one!”.  The person with ticket one sits down with you privately and asks one burning question; advise coachees to make questions as specific as possible and to keep it to a minute or two. Now you spend three or four minutes loading them up with two or three expert tips, which you simultaneously jot down on the back of your business card and then hand to them as you warmly thank them and invite them to call to schedule an appointment. Then, “Number two!” Use a timer to keep things moving.

I learned the power of this technique when I was invited to be a speed coach at a Women's Leadership Exchange event. WLE Founders Leslie Grossman and Andrea March launched WLE speed coaching and it's been extraordinarily popular. Visit their website to see videos of speed coaching in action:  Women's Leadership Exchange.

Do a great job and believe me—many folks will call you later to set up paid appointments.


Dr. Debra Condren wrote the bestselling book, Ambition Is Not A Dirty Word: A Woman’s Guide to Earning Her Worth and Achieving Her Dreams. Debra is a career and executive coach, speaker, and columnist. Read her advice at

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