2019 Coaching Program: Coaching Guidelines

Thank you for your participation in the peer-to-peer coaching program! As an experienced speaker, you have been paired with 1–3 presenters/teams from the 2019 International Conference to work one-to-one, providing personalized support, advice and encouragement. You can read the complete guide below, or download a PDF version for you to save, print, and/or share.

Download the Coaching Guide

The anticipated schedule for the program is as follows:  

Friday, July 12 – Suggested deadline for first call to discuss presentation goals and organization
Friday, August 9 – Suggested deadline for phone or online rehearsal
Tuesday, September 3 – Deadline for finalized presentation slides & handouts

In order to ensure a productive and mutually fulfilling experience for all those involved in the program, resources for presentation coaches appear below and are followed by additional tools to help facilitate and guide your coaching experience. We hope that you will enjoy your participation in this program and welcome feedback at any stage. Please email [email protected] with any questions about the program.

First Call (Deadline: July 12)

Call to discuss presentation goals, style, and mentoring needs.

As a coach, please:

  • Initiate contact: email the presenter* to set up a time for the call
  • Review the presenter’s RFP in advance of the call
  • Lead a discussion with the presenter about presentation (See below Discussion Guide)
  • Offer follow-up support (calls, emails, etc.), if needed/requested
  • Schedule the next call to run through the presentation

*If paired with more than one presenter, please host these calls separately with each participant.

Phone or Online Rehearsal (Deadline: August 9)

Dry-run presentation before final slides and reference materials are submitted. The deadline allows time for additional practice, if needed.

As a coach please:

  • Listen to the presentation from start to finish, without interruption
  • Take notes of questions and comments throughout and present them for discussion following the finish of the presentation (see below for Discussion Guide)
  • Be constructive: opt for suggestions rather than critiques
  • Try to ask questions that will lead the presenter to their own conclusions

Discussion Guide for Coaches

First Call

The goals of this call are to:

  • Initiate the relationship and build rapport
  • Encourage the presenter to think critically about their audience, as well as the style, content, and goals of their presentation
  • Ensure a good match between the presentation description and content
  • Build presenter confidence and skills in terms of content delivery

The following questions/discussion prompts correspond with the above goals, and have been compiled to serve as a guide for coaches calling presenters for the first time to discuss their sessions.

Initiate the relationship and build report:

  • Tell me a little bit about what you do at [institution]
  • How long have you been in Donor Relations?
  • Is this your first ADRP conference presentation? Have you attended before?
  • What inspired you to present? What led you to choose this topic?
  • Coach: introduce yourself by sharing your experience in the field, your presentation experiences, and if appropriate, an anecdote about presenting

Encourage the presenter to think critically about their audience, as well as the style, content, and goals of their presentation:

  • Describe what you plan to do in your one-hour session. Describe the format of your presentation (e.g.:  panel, partnering with another presenter, etc.)
  • How would you describe your presentation style? (e.g.:  formal, informal, interactive, etc.)
  • What methods will you employ to engage your audience?
  • Is your session an informative one to let people know about a topic and your views on it, a persuasive one where you want them to do something differently at the end of the session, or something else entirely?
  • What is the goal of your session? What will the audience do/know/feel at the end of your session?
  • Is there one overarching message to your presentation? How will you convey it?
  • How will you use visuals to deliver your message in a compelling way?

Ensure a good match between the presentation description and content:

  • How did you develop your session description?
  • Based on the style, message, and goals we just discussed, do you think your description fits your presentation?
  • Explain why you think your session is geared to _______ level; ________ audience.

Build presenter confidence and skill in terms of content delivery:

  • Describe your experience as a conference presenter and give examples of past presentations. What do you think worked well? What areas are you hoping to improve on?
  • Based on presentations you have seen, what do you think makes a good presentation?
  • What expertise are you bringing to the session that gives you credibility in front of the audience??
  • What rehearsal and preparation strategies do you use?


During the dry-run of the presentation, the coach is asked to take note of various aspects of the presentation. The coach should encourage the presenter to express themselves as they would at the conference (utilizing inflection, voice projection, audience questions, etc.) and he or she should follow along with the PowerPoint slides, or other visuals (https://join.me/, a free screen sharing and meeting tool is recommended for this). 

The following are areas of focus that should be discussed with the presenter following the dry-run, if needed:

  • Does the presenter speak from a position of authority, drawing on broad knowledge of the topic?
  • Does the presenter seem comfortable with the content and flow of the presentation?
  • Does the presenter have good voice projection?
  • Is the presenter interacting and engaging appropriately and adequately with the audience?
  • Does the content and focus of the presentation remain consistent with the session description and RFP?
  • Are examples and analysis provided that participants can apply to their own situations?
  • If research is cited, is it properly referenced?

If the presenter is using PowerPoint (or a similar audio-visual platform), it is important that it be used appropriately. The mentor should reflect on the below questions while listening to and viewing the dry-run presentation and if the presenter deviates from these best practices, the mentor should coach them accordingly. 

  • Do you get the impression the presenter is reading directly from the slides?
  • Are there any typos?
  • Are there too many slides for the length of the presentation and the content being conveyed?
  • Would the slides be easily legible from the back of a large room? Is the font* clear?
  • Are color and images used appropriately? Is there distracting animation or slide transitions?
  • Are graphics and visuals used effectively? Are there text-heavy slides that would benefit from a graphic illustration instead? **
  • Are there messages that could be conveyed with an image instead of text?
  • Do the slides add to the presentation, increasing audience understanding?

*Arial is the recommended font for presentations – avoid using fonts that have to be downloaded or are specific to one computer.

**Ensure images and graphics are not copyright protected. Insist they use stock images and/or graphics from Pixabay, Unsplash, or Pexels.