“You are the message,” the phrase made popular by Roger Ailes’ book of the same name holds important lessons for Christian coaches. He makes the point that when you communicate with someone, it’s not just your words that send a message, it’s everything about you.
It is a scientific fact that such visual cues as your clothing, glasses, hairstyle, and gestures speak volumes. Now for coaches who spend the majority of time on calls with clients, your physical appearance may seem unimportant.
That’s simply not true. And here’s why.
Even if speaking isn’t your preferred tool of choice in your marketing toolkit and only a smattering of your clients request SKYPE or Google Plus sessions, the reality is that you are putting your face out there on your website for the entire world to see. And that’s not even taking into account the potential clients you could meet at church or the grocery store.
What Does Your Appearance Say?
What does your appearance say about you?
Whether it’s your headshot on your website or a speaking event with the potential to generate leads, here are five things your appearance could say about you:
1. Stuck in a rut. If you wear only neutrals devoid of color and accessories, you could be telling others that you are stuck in a rut and uncomfortable drawing attention to yourself.
In a similar way, if you haven’t changed your hairstyle or had your hair cut professionally for a few years, you could be telling prospects you’re neither current nor fit to address the challenges your clients face in today’s world.
2. Confident. Do you dress in clothing too large for your body? If so, you could be telling people you are not comfortable in your own skin. If this sounds like you, take a friend shopping and ask him or her for feedback on what looks good on you.
When speaking, do you stride toward the podium with confidence or look at the floor as you shuffle up to the front? Do you hide behind the podium or step out from behind the podium and remove any barriers—real or perceived—between you and the audience. Like it or not, it matters.
3. Attention to detail. If your hair is sticking up or your clothes have loose threads hanging from them, clients could infer that details don’t matter. If I’m paying a coach $100 an hour or more, I want to know he or she pays attention to the little things, for example, the nuance in my tone or the catch in my throat when I talk about my son.
4. Creative. If you’re branding yourself as a creativity coach or innovative in your coaching style, you had better look the part. Don’t go overboard, but keep in mind the type of client you are trying to attract. Statement pieces such as bold glasses or a colorful blouse communicate an entirely different message than a black suit and white shirt.
5. Sound judgment. If you arrive for a speaking event disheveled or your website photo shows you at the beach in shorts and a tee, you will leave potential coaching clients questioning whether your judgment is sound. Or if you show up wearing four-inch heels but have to climb five or six steps up to the stage, you may be asking for trouble.
While family photos on your website could convey warmth and “family values,” leave them for your blog or your “about” page. Your headshot you choose for your homepage should scream “professional.” If you’ve not had professional photos done, you could be undercutting your potential for success.
Whether for good or for bad, your appearance matters. Put forth your best foot, whether its online or in person, to communicate the clear value you — and this profession — bring to the church and the world.
Coach the Coach
Now, it’s time for a little self-coaching:
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- What message does your appearance communicate to your clients?
- What next steps do you need to take to communicate your message–hire an image consultant? Join a Toastmaster’s group?
- Ask a friend what message you are sending by your appearance and gestures. Ask for an honest appraisal, and then prepare yourself for what he or she might have to say.