Reprinted from The Sunday Times


One day last month nine businessmen gathered in a London hotel room. Although their backgrounds were diverse - they ranged from caterers Brake Brothers, Comet and Sainsbury to a leading IT organisation - they had a common aim: to improve their presentation skills.

Despite achieving business success, they all realised their ability to speak in public and convey the right image to fellow workers and outsiders left much to be desired.

By the end of the day, having presented, been videoed, reviewed and put back together again, all of them had improved immensely. They are not alone. Hundreds of executives from small and large companies have been coached by Paul Coia since he set up Pow’r Communication, his presentation skills business, in 1997.

At that time Coia was juggling broadcasting commitments as a television presenter with hosting business conferences. He was soon spending more time advising people at these conferences about their body language and speech and decided to start charging for his services.

Coia was convinced there was a need to formalise - and charge- for his services after a conversation with the CEO of a FTSE 100 company. This executive told Coia he had to make redundancies and was going to say, on stage, presumably as a joke “There is good news and bad news: the bad news is there are going to be redundancies, the good news is I’m not one of them.”

As a result Coia set up pow’r to teach Presentation Skills. He was convinced there was a need for advice: surveys suggest a successful presentation is 57% about appearance, 36% about voice and 7% about content. Coia says get the 7% right and you’ve got the building blocks to get the rest right.

The most common mistakes people make, says Coia, are rushing through their speech, avoiding eye contact and putting a badly structured narrative together. Coia gets them to condense their speeches in to just five ideas so they learn content from the outset and can convey confidence.