Key Mistakes – 10 Steps to Speaking SuccessAngry Businessman

Below we address the 10 key mistakes corporate speakers make and the 10 key steps to speaking success.

These steps are the basics, the foundational ‘must haves’ when you get up to speak.  And YES there are so many more techniques that you can layer on top, unconscious language patterns, stage anchoring, state change and rapport at exquisite levels to name a few.  Are you keen to learn and excel?   We have the information which will allow you to immediately tap into spectacular skills that will truly shoot you to the top, have you stand out with distinction, and speak powerfully.

Before you begin to speak you need to tap into your passion; passion for your business, for your product, your service and your topic. If you don’t feel passionate about your topic then it’s going to be tricky to pull any convincing speaking off. Uber tricky.

So take the time right now to tap into all the things that you love about your business, your product/service and your topic.

It’s important to be very clear on this point up front.  It’s not one to gloss over.  If you want to be remembered, if you want to leave an impact on your audience and connect with them at a deep level then you simply must be passionate about your topic.  I explore this further in Step 5 of the The 10 Steps to Speaking Success – Plenty of ‘Pub Passion’.

The 10 Steps to Speaking Success

1. Know it so you don’t blow it – How horrid is it when you stand to present and don’t know what to say?

2. Prepare so you’re Aware The quickest way to generate nerves, don’t prepare!

3. Get a Grip – Nerves can cost you your career.

4. Straight talk Wandering waffle is a sure fire way to lose respect and attention.

5. Plenty of ‘Pub Passion’ We simply won’t buy into someone who is limp and disinterested.

6. Engage and relate to make it great No connection = no sale!

7. Move it so they don’t snooze it Hiding behind your laptop is hideously boring for your audience.

8. Delicious Dulcet Tones Monotone, quavery voice.  Thin, high pitched sound.  Dry mouth…all things you don’t want to happen.

9. You Tell to Sell –  Time to stop pretending that you are not selling.  Every time you speak you are selling.  Shying away and going weird, however, won’t help!

Plus the final step which can make all the difference…

10. Make The Best Of The Way Things Turn Out Time to stop the horror movie.

I’ve written an entire book ‘Public Speaking is SEXY – Kiss goodbye the 10 Major Mistakes and take your speaking from fizzle to SIZZLE’ on these steps to speaking success and our ‘Speech Coaching’ and ‘Corporate Speaking Workshops‘ covers these topics in massive detail. If wanting more guidance with other aspects of product creation and event organisation then click through to our The Speaker website and come along to the Million $$ Presentation Kick-starter.  This web page is special though.  It’s dynamic; a condensed version, the key tips to a killer keynote for you to take and use straight away.

Content and information is fabulous, and we are happy to share our secrets with you…however, nothing beats practical application and having your hand held!  Have a chat with us and we can work out where you are at with your speaking confidence and presentation skills and what will help you get the results you desire.

Step 1: Know it so you don’t blow it

Practice baby practice! It’s a sexy word, I know, however, let me break it down for you and unveil the mystery and power of this much begrudged word.

Think about a hobby that you do, or have ever enjoyed, that you actually wanted to be good at.  Got it?  Now ask yourself – did I practice my hobby to improve?  Speaking is not just a hobby; it’s something that can add hundreds of thousands of dollars to your bottom line if you do it well.  For some of my clients it has added millions!

I’ve had countless clients come to me in shame and horror because they have hardly ever spoken in public, found out they needed to present to their clients and simply decided to ‘wing it’!!  In other words, thought they’d do no preparation and hope like hell that it would still all work out beautifully – ta daa.  Sob.  In the majority of cases this approach ends in extreme mediocrity or disaster.  Rarely do they ‘WOW’.

I don’t know about you, but I want to WOW!

If you practice at soccer, cooking, or guitar, then find the time to practice at something that will make you money and gain you clients and respect.

You need to know your stuff.  There is nothing more nerve wracking than getting up in front of a room full of people to talk on something that you know little about – ahhh!  If you don’t want to blow it, then truly you need to know it.  You need to be able to verbalise and clearly demonstrate what you know with your audience.

Practice really is a sexy word, Practice makes you money – oooh yeah.  Practice makes you look good, confident, competent in control – oooooooh yeah.

Practice helps you stand out from the crowd, there are plenty of other businesses out there ready to take your clients.  You need to use any means possible to set yourself apart, get ahead.  Yes please!

Product Launch – BIG Success!

“Having a couple of big presentations to make I decided to get some speech coaching.  Verity was recommended to me by an acquaintance.

After half a dozen lessons I sailed through the presentations with every confidence.  I went from a nervous, dithering presenter to a confident performer who enjoyed the experience.

I was told on the night I was very engaging and my presentation was the best of the three given.  The launch was a big success.

Thanks Verity, you are a legend and I’d recommend you to anyone.”

Martin O’Connor
Managing Director – Coordimax”

Step 2. Prepare so you’re Aware

Have you ever been caught out when delivering a speech to your target audience, your clients?

I’ve coached (sometimes counselled!) many a client who has found themselves in a situation completely different to what they were expecting when they turned up to speak.  The quickest way to generate nerves is to NOT prepare.

From small things like the size of the audience, room size and tools available, to big things like time available to speak, topic to speak on and even who your audience is.

We need to prepare our physical environment any time we speak.

I like to call it – Prepare so you’re aware.

Don’t let yourself be caught out with little surprises that can throw you off your game, increase stress and nerves and ultimately cost you business, recognition and respect.

Every little tip will help you play a bigger game.

Do you find getting up to speak nerve wracking?

If so, then you may relate to feeling extra jittery and stressed prior to speaking.  When you are in this heightened, adrenalin pumping state (the state of fight or flight), it doesn’t take much to throw you.  I’ve seen many speakers fall to pieces prior to speaking, because one small thing went wrong.

We want to do all we can to promote a powerful presenting state, one of calm, relaxed and natural body language and vocal variety.  The best way I know to help you, is to be prepared.  I’m talking ‘prepared’ in every way possible.

It’s about knowing what to expect before you get up to speak, so you eliminate, or at the very least minimise, scary surprises.

Extremely Beneficial

‘I wanted to let you know that I found your course to be extremely beneficial.

It has certainly developed my presentation skills, confidence and will aid me in my professional development.

Your approach to training is fantastic; I only wish that we all had longer sessions with you.

Thanks again!

Lindsay Wilson
– AIA Australia Limited

Step 3: Get a Grip!

Nerves can cost you your career, promotion, respect and recognition. Get a strategy that works for you so you never have to worry about worry again.

In a nutshell ask yourself – are you one of the many that find yourself reduced to a gibbering mess when you have to get up and speak?

Do you ride an emotional rollercoaster of freaking out and trying to convince yourself that you’re ok, in control, you’ll be fine??

Do you get so nervous that you go red, blank, sweaty, have a quavery weak voice or feel ill?

If you are, I’m going to be brutal.

This fear is costing you opportunities, clients, respect, credibility, connection and undoubtedly money.  By letting fear get in the way of your speaking, promoting and selling your business ideas, products and services, you are sabotaging your career success.

Now for the sunshine and sparkles!

Don’t fret, and don’t believe what others may say about conquering your fear being hard.  It does not have to take a long time to rid yourself of the fear of speaking.  Work with us, develop the right attitude, learn the right tools, and you can change in a snap.


Your career is so important, do what you have to in order to give yourself the best chance at success.  Read books, attend courses, and get therapy if you have to!  Join our company based Team Training  which covers techniques for controlling nerves, and if you like the hands on approach (not literally of course) come on our Million $$ PresentationConquer your speaking fears and speak up a storm.

Let us help you eliminate your fear forever.  Don’t let it hold you back any longer.


Step 4: Straight Talk

Ditch the wobbly, wandering story.  Be clear and logical with your structure and leave your audience in no doubt as to who is in control and who is the expert.  Wandering waffle is a sure fire way to lose respect and attention.

Are you the kind of person who loses your train of thought, goes blank or finds yourself waffling on about something completely different to what you began talking about?

If you’re thinking yes to any of these points then you don’t want to be the one wasting people’s time.

Straight talk is about being succinct, clear and timely in your delivery of information.  Getting to the point with as much detail as is required and expected by your audience (and no more) and then moving on to the next point. Straight talk is also about letting your audience know where you will be going during your presentation (this of course assumes that YOU know where you will be going during your presentation!).

Talk straight, and you’ll be respected as the expert.


Step 5: Plenty of Pub Passion!

Passion sells.  As a speaker you need to be passionate about what you are presenting (if you want to shine and sell your ideas).  Passion outshines technical brilliance every time.   If you have a presenter that is technically brilliant but boring, and another presenter that is technically ok yet exciting, interesting, using humour and stories – which do you think you will remember and learn more from?

The passionate presenter, every time.

We simply won’t buy into someone who is limp and disinterested.

Passion sells; it connects and breaks down barriers.  So when you present I want you to be passionate! More than that, I want you to have Pub Passion, and plenty of it!!!  Cheers.

When you stand up to speak you need to have the kind of passion that comes out in the pub after a few drinks (minus the crazy)!  That pub passion is fun, energised and attractive.

But NO I don’t mean (for one moment) that you need to be crazy at work.  Verity did not give you permission to be crazy at work or to have a few drinks before your presentation!

For some of us, we live in a perpetual state of ‘Pub Passion’.

To wow any audience you need them to know that you are passionate about your topic, product, brand, whatever it is that you are presenting.

Pub passion in the workplace means being incredibly clear and letting your audience know that you love what you are talking about.

Do you already do this?

Is it clear to your clients, target audience and staff that you love what you do, that you love your product or service or brand? Can your audience tell without a doubt?


Step 6: Engage and relate to make it great

Speaking to your clients and speaking from stage has changed considerably over the last 20 years.  We no longer expect or want the droning technical information presentation.  We want to be entertained.

I think that it’s this expectation of entertainment that actually freaks many business speakers out.  If someone asked you to stand up and simply convey information then you’d probably be pretty happy that you could.  Right?

It’s when the expectation is added that you not only convey information but also ‘entertain’ your audience that so much discomfort is produced.

The key to entertaining is engaging your audience.

I know you can engage; everyone can engage.  It’s a matter of following a formula for success.

When you engage your audience and relate to them, it truly makes it great for them.  We all want to feel understood, we want to be involved and that’s a key to being a great speaker, engaging and relating to your audience without having them feel embarrassed.

How can you relate to your audience in the workplace?

How do you relate with a target audience that start out as a group of strangers?  You need to find the common theme, the common thread that binds you all together.

You need to use rapport.  Rapport is an amazing skill, it’s the art of reflecting back with elegance that with which you are presented.

If you were talking to a bunch of teenage boys, you would use totally different language and body language than speaking with a group of successful businesswomen.

I spend a great deal of time teaching the fine art of rapport.   It’s brilliant, it’s vital in the workplace and it’s one of the things covered on our Corporate Speaking Workshop and Corporate Coaching.

I Got a High Distinction!

‘I took a public speaking course with Verity on Advanced Speaking.  The seminar not only taught me how to engage in effective public speaking, but also allowed me to understand how different people interact with one another and why they take the actions they do.

I applied the concepts learned from the seminar straight away.  By learning what my audience wants I was able to improve both my speaking patterns and the written word in order to actively engage my lecturer.

I wrote my next MBA assignment using the sensory language my lecturer preferred (rather than what I preferred!) and went from a Distinction to a High Distinction!

Through this course I realized that, how it is said, rather than what is said, has the power to change an individual’s perception.

Aparna Sachathamakul
– MBA Student

Step 7: Move It So They Don’t Snooze It!

Body language is a brilliant way to engage your audience and help them receive the full meaning of your message.  A huge chunk of how we communicate is non-verbal, which means it’s conveyed not by words but by other cues such as the tone of our voice or through movements.

If you cut in front of someone in your car and you looked back to see them holding up their hand to you, with a particular finger raised – you’d know exactly what they meant without them having to say a word – right! 🙂

Our actions help fill in the blanks of what we are saying, they deepen the meaning of our message and help keep our audience attentive and awake!  Have you ever been to a presentation where the speaker didn’t move?  Maybe they stood behind a lectern, or a computer with slides on it; maybe they were scared and stood still like a deer caught in headlights!  Hiding behind your laptop is hideously boring for your audience.

Thinking back to this presenter, did you find their presentation boring, was it hard to stay tuned in?

When someone presents and chooses not to move at all, then they make it extremely easy for their audience to fall asleep on them!  It comes back to fight or flight.

At an unconscious level we are always checking if we are in danger or safe.  When someone presents and they move about the stage, use large gestures, make direct eye contact and use different voice tones and volumes (vocal variety) we are forced to pay attention.  At an unconscious level we pay attention because we can’t be sure that we aren’t in danger, like the threat of ‘Oh my gosh, I hope they don’t ask me a question!!’

So when someone uses lots of body language, or appropriate and entertaining body language at an unconscious level their audience pays attention.

How brilliant is this!

Move with purpose and your audience will pay attention.  Stand still and lifeless and your audience will assess the fight or flight danger and deem it safe, thus letting them drift off and think about other things or have a little snooze.  Ripper.

Now I’m a bit of a sadist and have had fun at my audience’s expense from time to time.  If I find someone not paying attention in a training session etc. (I know, virtually unheard of!) then I’ll walk straight toward them while I’m speaking, getting closer and closer and then stop and talk really close to where they are sitting.

What does this do?

It freaks them out from a fight or flight perspective!!!  I’m sorry but I find this hilarious and I pass it on to you with all the love I have.  You will be guaranteed of their full and undivided attention from that point forward!

There are many subtle, eloquent reasons for moving also.  There are many powerful, natural and easy ways to move.

Why Move?

  • To deepen the understanding of what you are saying.  For instance, using descriptive gestures to demonstrate ‘the financial return is this much’.
  • To create energy and passion and help you maintain your emotional and physical state when you are presenting.
  • Because when it is done with purpose (not simply aimless wandering about) it is far more interesting for an audience to look at and be a part of.
  • Because it projects confidence and competence.
  • It keeps your audience alert and attentive; it engages your audience.
  • Because it can say things for you without having to open your mouth (often a very powerful way of conveying a message) e.g. putting your hand on your heart.
  • Because it signals a certain level of proficiency and talent with speaking.

Too much movement can be incredibly irritating and distracting!

Eliminate any pacing, rocking, swaying, hand wringing, jerky movements or finger pointing from your repertoire.  Removing poor speaking habits from your presentation style is something you can work on with us.

Presentation Skills have Lifted Enormously

‘Your teachings have been invaluable to me.  It will be something that will stay with me for a long time.

I do know that my presentation skills have lifted enormously, due to your professional input.

Thank you again, Verity.’

John Tabone,
Business Development – Automation, NHP

Step 8: Delicious Dulcet Tones.

Every audience is made up of a variety of individuals.  Some of your audience will prefer facts and knowledge, some will want pictures and descriptive language, some will want to get a feel for your ideas and others will want to hear where you are coming from.  They will want your message to come in loud and clear.

In each audience you’ll have people who primarily process information through pictures, feelings and also a chunk that will process through sounds.

So how you say your information can be more important to them than how you look and if you have any slides, handouts or gestures.

Let me give you an example:

When I was a little girl my sister and I had our fair share of fights.  My sister is very auditory (that means she processes much of her information by sounds).  She was brilliant with detecting people’s voices on the phone, and was exceptional as a receptionist.  She was also incredibly expressive with her voice.

She could say in a bright and cheery tone ‘go ahead, wear the dress’ and then could turn around the next moment, having changed her mind, and say the exact same words, however in a sinister tone, ‘go ahead, wear the dress’.

The words were the same, however, the meaning was incredibly different.  Purely by the use of tone of voice, pause and the volume and speed with which she said things she could convey an entirely different meaning.

Our voices are powerful, don’t underestimate yours.

How you present with your voice will make a huge impact on your audience.  It will affect how attentively they listen and how much of your message they leave with and are prepared to act upon.

Before we chat about how to use your voice, let’s first cover how powerful it is not to speak!


Do you find it difficult to pause when you are delivering a presentation?

One thing is for certain, one of the easiest ways to tell a confident speaker from a nervous one is by the use of the pause – or lack thereof!

Pausing can really set you apart.

When used effectively it gives your audience time to catch up with your ideas, it gives your audience the chance to get your joke and laugh and lets your audience know that something important is about to be said.  A well-timed pause just before a punch line deepens the humour and builds anticipation and finally when you pause, it allows you the chance to breathe!

As I’ve mentioned before, breathing is good (!), it sends oxygen to your brain, helps you stay calm and focused and relaxes your vocal chords.

Vocal Variety

The main thing the auditory people in your audience want to hear is vocal variety.  Like using movement and body language, when you vary your voice it helps everyone concentrate, be engaged and enjoy your information so much more.

Vocal variety means that when you speak you emphasise words, speeding up in places and slowing down at appropriate times.  You may speak with increased volume when stating your key point and change your pitch (so some bits are in a higher voice and some bits in a deeper voice) throughout.

Ultimately we want to speak with delicious dulcet tones, a beautiful varied voice, and one that is interesting and conveys emotion, timing, importance and respect. Work on your voice and it will pay dividends.

I Feel Empowered

‘Even though I am a very successful businessman, I have always felt held back by a weak, unreliable voice. This caused me to avoid many meetings and functions, much to my detriment.

After just four sessions with Verity I feel empowered in a way I did not realize was possible. I now have a voice that works on all occasions and under all circumstances, at a volume I choose to use.

Verity also introduced presentation techniques that lifted my confidence further. Better still is the fact that this all works in everyday life, not just in business.’

Qld Businessman

18 months and Still Benefiting

‘This email might seem out of the blue. It is just a note to thank you for the difference you made 18 months ago. The benefits are still with me loud and clear.

Where credit is due I have a need to say so. What I particularly like is that I can now count my money using a better voice!’


Step 9: You Tell to Sell

As mentioned earlier, the way we present has changed over the years.  It used to be totally acceptable to simply present information as a brain dump to your audience.

If you want to succeed as a speaker, taking your business success to the next level, then you need to, absolutely must, challenge your audience to take action. You must inspire them to act.

To inspire your audience you need to tap into your emotions and more importantly tap into your audience’s emotions. Help them feel the pain of not having your information, product or service… and then change their state by taking them to a wonderfully inspired place; the place they want to be.

It doesn’t matter whether you have a product, service or simply an idea, whenever you get up to present you are selling something.  And by inspiring your audience you will help them take the action needed to achieve the results they want.

Be clear on what it is that you are selling and what the next step is that you want your audience to take. Do you want them to go away and think about your idea, do you want them to buy your product or do you want them to feel something?

If you engage your audience, relate to them and inspire them to take action then you will end up being a presenter of distinction, because it won’t be about applause, or call backs, it will be about effecting lasting change for your audience.

You tell to sell so that you can help your audience change for the better. When you come from a win/win motivation you speak with passion, integrity and power.

Sales Success increases by a staggering 25%

“Being the sales director of a multi-national company and in the logistics industry for 15 years, I’ve attended more courses than I care to remember, and Verity’s tailored one on one training ranks at the very top in delivering results.

After 5 sessions with Verity I walked away with immediate and practical solutions that I could apply in my own business and personal life.

I saw my personal sales success grow by a staggering 25%.

Verity you have inspired me to push beyond my doubts and discover possibilities I never knew existed. Your ability to share your tips and skills allowed me to communicate in a way that allows me to engage and connect with my audience in ways I had not thought possible.

Really amazing results with surprisingly little effort – Thanks Verity.

Daniel Kendall
General Manager – Sales and Marketing
Kuehne & Nagel Pty. Ltd

Step 10: Make The Best Of The Way Things Turn Out.

You can plan, prepare and you can follow all the rules… yet sometimes things blow up!! Sometimes things don’t turn out the way you planned, you stuff up, something unexpected happens, or your presentation gets totally hijacked.

Has this ever happened to you?

To be a successful business speaker and shine when you speak to your audience you have to be ready to deal with the times when things don’t work out.

Do you make the best of the way things turn out? Or do you go away and wail and moan in the corner!!! Don’t feel bad if you do, you’re not alone. However, I’d like to ask you if that is helping you achieve the results you want?

Being able to present with confidence to your clients means that you are also able to deal with problems. As a speaker you need to quickly address the issues you can deal with, give suggestions for someone else (who is better equipped) to handle the issues you can’t deal with, or if all goes up in flames, know where a good pub is to drown your sorrows! Then get on with life.

Art Linkletter said: ‘Things turn out best for the people who make the best of the way things turn out’. 

I love this quote, we can’t know how things will turn out but we can know how we will deal with them. Be ok with mistakes and allow yourself to shine.

Finally remember to celebrate what you have done well, what you have learnt and the fun you have had discovering it!!

What Next? – Take Action

How’s that for FREE information? I know there is a lot here to digest, and yet if you’ve read it all you clearly want to improve, blitz your presentations, Speak Smart and LIVE BIG.

Now is the time to act.

  • Write your keynote/client presentation
  • Practice your delivery, and
  • Join us for some ongoing coaching, training and mentoring so you’ll be prepared, amazing and know you’re the best you can be when you get up and speak to your clients.

You are your most powerful marketing tool.

Let us help you powerfully market yourself through your ability to communicate, connect, inspire and present.

Our Individual Training has been designed to bridge the gap between this content and to offer you hands on training, one on one time with experts, the opportunity to ask questions pertinent to you and to receive feedback that is specific, individual, dynamic and immediate.

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