One aspect of the FIS Skills Hub is sector-specific training, and FIS seeks out training partners to deliver courses and learning opportunities for members that are specifically tailored to the needs of the finishes and interiors sector. Communications coach Malcolm Love is one of those select partners. In this article, he examines some common myths  regarding public speaking.

The 17th century physicist Isaac Newton could plausibly be called the patron saint of the ‘poor public speaker’ (although he was far from saintly). As Lucasian professor of Mathematics at the University of Cambridge, Newton was obliged to give an annual public talk about his work. The event was apparently so mind numbingly dull that people left in droves during the speech. Word got around and the next year, no one came at all!

Good speakers have far more impact on their chosen audiences than others.

And it turns out (most unfairly) that a great, important or  significant message badly  delivered has far less impact and influence than it deserves. Worse, it can have a negative effect.

Our public communication skills are perceived to speak loudly about us and about the organisations we represent. All of us speak in public, whether it’s briefing our teams, pitching to clients or addressing a conference. (And let’s not forget the potential social demand to ‘say a few words’ at a farewell or deliver a wedding speech.)

I’ve spent my whole career working in some form of public communication or another and the last 21 years actively helping people to be better public  communicators. During my work in radio journalism and later as a senior programme maker for the BBC, I learned the nuts and bolts of connecting with an audience. Now, as a coach, I spend my time figuring out what works for people, and why, as they attempt to communicate their ideas with more effectiveness.

I find that there are some common myths about public speaking.

The first is that it is a matter  of talent. You are either born with the talent or you are not. Lots of British teenagers would rather die than hold a conversation with an adult. Though many of their American counterparts will just as soon look you straight in the eye, shake you firmly by the hand and confidently ask about your journey. I put the difference  down to the culture of ‘show and tell’ in school. But this is certainly not about innate talent. It’s  about learning skills and  knowhow. I have no doubt that anyone can learn to be a much better speaker.

Another myth is that this  training will take a long time. It is hard to make significant changes on your own. But with proper coaching in three hours you can learn everything that matters about speaking in public. Of course, for anything, practice makes perfect, but rapid and permanent changes can happen in a morning or afternoon.

Many people think that trainers will attempt to cajole them into  unnatural poses and gestures. In short, the fear is that you must become someone else to be a  better public speaker. Actually, the opposite is true. Our unique  qualities are what make us  interesting. If we all learned THE  way to walk, look, gesture,  construct a speech, etc., we  would have added to the sum of boring things in the world. My  contention is that you do not have to lose or hide the real you, any more than a singer should trade their uniqueness by learning to  sing better.


“Malcolm has a wealth of knowledge on communicating and presentations. His tricks and tips of the trade give you the self-confidence to get your message across, whether in front of 350 members at the President’s Lunch or at a pre-tender meeting selling my company. With Malcolm’s input and advice, you will get the confidence as well as the knowledge. Priceless.”

Steve Coley, FIS president and managing director of Lakeside Ceilings and Partitions


“I went through a session with Malcolm Love prior to my first big speech as President of the AIS (now FIS). He helped me improve my delivery, control my nerves, relax and  deliver the speech.  I took this self- confidence and  improved presentation skills back into my day job and this has without doubt helped my career. I cannot recommend Malcolm’s training sessions  highly enough.”

Jonathan Cherry, past  president of AIS (now FIS)  and global marketing manager of Saint-Gobain Gyproc

FIS Communications training

Gain the skills, and confidence, to deliver powerful presentations.

‘How to create a great pitch’

This half-day interactive course covers these key issues:

  • Plan of attack! Establishing a proper process for creating and developing your presentation.
  • Blurry eyed? How to focus your business message.
  • Vive la difference! Kinds of pitches and the one you need to make.
  • Story board. The key elements of storytelling that shape your pitch and make your message compelling.
  • The good, the bad and the downright ugly. The key design principles of effective visual aids (e.g. with PowerPoint and Presi).
  • Top tips. How to enhance your presentation.

Bespoke Communications Training

Looking for something more specific, delivered at a venue of your choice? Our one-day programme, delivered to a maximum of 15 people, is tailored to your specific needs.

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