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How to become a champion presenter and speaker

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by Startacus Admin


Want to improve your public speaking? These tips from Anthony Garvey, the newly crowned Toastmasters International UK Public Speaking champion will help you do just that.

marcos-luiz-photograph-W15cfW4qQR8-unsplashWhen you are a startup founder you have a lot to do and much of your success will depend on how well you communicate. In your new business venture you’ll need to persuade and cajole your audience to support you, to invest and to buy your products/services. Honing your presenting skill is a must.

To help you do just that let me share some tips from what I have learned on the challenging road to raising the champion’s trophy.

Research your audience:

Who are you presenting to and what are they turning up to hear? If you are delivering a sales or investor pitch for example, do some research in advance on the people sitting across the table from you. By checking out their LinkedIn profiles, you can tell if they are interested in getting straight down to business to talk about facts and figures or if they prefer to shoot the breeze and get to know people first. This will allow you to adjust your presentation style accordingly. And if you are presenting online, ask people to turn their cameras on, keep them on mute, but encourage them to ask questions and add comments in the chat.

Visualise a successful outcome:

Imagine the audience reacting positively, see them smiling and applauding and run that image through your head a few times before you begin to speak. If it is a live presentation, turn up at the venue early and greet the people who are attending as they come in. Then when you are delivering your presentation, look for the positive faces in the crowd who are wishing you well as you are speaking.

Record and watch your presentation:

Use your phone and record one of your practice sessions. Watch it back and check your content, your body language and your eye contact. If there are elements you need to improve on, change them. If you are presenting online, practice in front of a mirror. Facial reactions are really important on the small screen, so keep your expressions in check. Record the actual session too, so you can review it afterwards. And remember, the more you practice, the better you get!

matthew-osborn-wMRIcT86SWU-unsplashUsing pauses with purpose:

Take the time to pause when you say something really important in your presentation. Highlight those moments in your script in advance. As you deliver them, take the time to look around the room to ensure the audience is getting the message. Ask yourself what single sentence you would like the attendees to take away and remember from your presentation. Once you identify this key message, make sure you focus on getting it across effectively. Repetition is good here and don’t forget to pause after you deliver it!

Change your approach:

Be willing to alter your tactics during a presentation, particularly during a sales or investor pitch. If you notice you are not connecting or people don’t seem as interested as you would like them to be, change your planned approach. Maybe you could ditch the slides and speak to the audience directly. Perhaps you could interact with the attendees more. Think on your feet and if it isn’t working, do something differently.

Visit a Toastmasters International club:

Drop into a Toastmasters club, either online or in person. There are more than 16,000 clubs in 145 countries. Toastmasters teaches you how to manage your fear of public speaking, schools you in leadership and communication skills, helps you run meetings effectively, and encourages you to develop listening and evaluation skills. As a guest, you are welcome to turn up for almost all of these meetings, to see if the club you have chosen suits you. As a member, you are assigned a mentor to help you on your speaking journey, to achieve your communication and management goals. Although Toastmasters clubs originally met in person, the organisation has adapted and many of its clubs are now hybrid or online only.

Prepare for Audience Questions:

Many speakers work hard on their presentation, but they often forget about the Q&A session afterwards. You need to work just as hard on the Q&A session as you do on your talk. Try and anticipate what the questions might be and prepare some good answers. If you can, practice and prepare and refine the answers to these questions with a trusted colleague. If you are speaking live at a venue, it can also help to get the event organisers to ask the first question or two, especially if you agree in advance what they are going to ask.

And finally, to keeping improving you need to take every opportunity to speak, and you also need feedback. It can be very helpful to get an objective view of your performance so, in advance, find someone you trust and ask then to give you a private evaluation after your presentation. If you are trying out something new, or have concerns about a particular aspect of your performance you can ask them to look out for those in particular. By focussing on improving your speaking skills you’ll help your startup to succeed.


Anthony Garvey DTM is the Toastmasters International 2023 UK Public Speaking champion. Toastmasters International is a not-for-profit organisation that has provided communication and leadership skills since 1924 through a worldwide network of clubs. There are more than 400 clubs and 10,000 members in the UK and Ireland. Members follow a structured educational programme to gain skills and confidence in public and impromptu speaking, chairing meetings and time management. To find your nearest club, visit



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Published on: 9th July 2023

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