Raising the profile of your business by speaking is great if you can do it

So how do you avoid the presentation pitfalls and stand out from the crowd?
We asked Barbara Moynihan, a Past President of Toastmasters International and a trainer in communications skills, to give us top 10 reasons why presentations fail, and advice she would give to help us counteract these blunders.

Lack of rapport. Make sure you talk in terms of your audience’s interests. Smile and start on time.

Being unauthentic. Take the time to prepare, practice and just be yourself.

Inability to use silence. Use pauses to add impact and emphasise your key points – silence speaks volumes.

Lack of facial expression. We have 80 muscles in our face that are capable of producing 7,000 facial gestures. Engage them and engage your audience.

Poor eye contact. Look at, and visually connect, with members of your audience. If you have to use slides, make sure they add value and aren’t just a crutch.

Tech-talking. Do not bore your audience with technical details that they do not need. Simplify your message. Avoid Three Letter Acronyms (TLAs).

Lack of humour. You don’t have to be a stand up comedian. If you cannot tell a joke – then don’t. Use alternative methods ofhumour such as anecdotes, relevant pictures or short movie clips.

Lack of direction. Ensure you have a clear structure to your speech with a beginning, middle and end, with appropriate signposts and transitions to keep your audience on track.

Lack of energy. Counteract this by projecting your voice, varying your pace and pitch, and using gestures.

Boring Language. Use what performance story teller, and Toastmasters champion Andrew Brammer calls “linguistic sparklers”: adjectives, adverbs, and rhetorical devices such as metaphors and similes.

Whether you want to raise your business profile through public speaking, or simply want to motivate your team to take on new challenges, investing some time in developing your speaking skills will pay handsome dividends.

Speaking clubs such as those run by Toastmasters International are an ideal environment to try out your talks, learn new skills and get constructive feedback to make sure that when you do stand up, you and your business will be noticed for the right reasons!

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