Have you ever read something that made “see red”?   Something that is so obviously wrong that you wanted to grab your pen, or rush to your keyboard and let rip?

This was me earlier today after I spotted a blog  post entitled “Confessions of a Former public speaking trainer – Don’t waste your money.”

My first reaction, was something like “Are they crazy?  How on earth could they say that?” And then I calmed down and started thinking.

Over the course of my life, I’ve been on many presentation training courses, and some of them were pretty much a waste of time!

I recall one where myself and 59 other delegates spent two days “learning how to present” without every having to speak!   To be honest, I cannot remember anything about the course other than the fact that we never spoke – that’s what I call a waste of time.

Then there was the other public speaking course which clearly fell into the “Don’t do as I do, do as I say” camp.
The presenter went through all the usual tips and tricks while failing to follow their own guidance.

He read off a script, spoke in a monotone and, demonstrated multiple distracting mannerisms. When we practiced, he never told us what we did well, and continuously reminded us what we were doing wrong. Never did he say what we should do instead! It was infuriating, and again a total waste of money.

But does this mean that all public speaking training courses are a waste of time?

No, I don’t believe so.

When I was working as a pharmaceutical sales rep. I was keen to become a manager so my boss sent me on another public speaking course run by a wonderful guy called David Strachan of Excel Communications.   And this one had a profound impact on me!

What did David do differently?

  • David walked the talk!   He was engaging and entertaining and he modelled all the behaviours he was teaching
  • The group size was small (less than 10)
  • The course ran over two days not one
  • Every participant gave several presentations
  • Every performance was captured on camera for later analysis
  • We received individual feedback, on what we were doing well, and how we could improve

That course changed my life and set me on the path that ultimately led to me becoming a presentation trainer too!  I try to bring those same values and principles to all of my courses and, from the feedback I get, I seem to have made a pretty good job of it.

So where was I…

Oh yes!  Some public speaking training courses are a waste of money, but some aren’t, so how do you tell the difference?

Here are some questions that I think you should ask to help you choose the best course.

  • Will you have the chance to practice your speaking at least twice during the course?
  • Will your speech be recorded and will you receive copies of the videos?
  • What’s the group size?   Remember, the more participants there are, the less time there will be to practice.   If the group size is larger than seven, do they have a second trainer?
  • Will you receive individual feedback from the trainer
  • Will they focus more time on your mistakes or your strengths?   (Believe me, concentrating on strengths creates much faster behavioral change.)
  • Will you receive feedback from your fellow trainees?
  • Will you be asked to give feedback to your fellow trainees?  (Having to give feedback makes you pay close attention and helps you notice the little differences that make a big difference.)
  • Is the trainer an accomplished public speaker themselves and do they have relevant business experience?
  • Do they teach a “one right way” approach or do they help you find your own unique speaking style?

Do you agree or disagree?  

I’d love to read your thoughts on public speaking so please leave a comment below…



  1. Neha Das on 07/04/2020 at 16:30

    Amazing article!!! I have been planning on taking public speaking training as a career option as i see myself confident when i have to speak in public and i feel i can help the ones who fear the public. Thanks for writing this articles,i have noted done the tips and will surely work on it.

    • Gavin Meikle on 09/04/2020 at 11:20

      Thanks, Neha. I am delighted that you found my articles interesting and valuable. I believe that public speaking is a core communication skill that allows people to express themselves with clarity and confidence. It’s a basic human right. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that we were born confident but then we learn how not to be as we grow up. If you are committed to helping others rediscover this innate skill, you are offering something extremely valuable. Best wishes for all your endeavours and, if you have any suggestions for future articles I’d love to hear them. Gavin Meikle, The Presentation Doctor

  2. Sam Vandervalk on 31/03/2019 at 16:18

    You are so right, practise makes perfect. I can’t imagine a course that wouldn’t include public speaking along with evaluation.

  3. Best Brains Algonquin on 31/08/2018 at 19:25

    This post is very perfect and useful information post. Thanks for sharing this post.

  4. Does Public Speaking Training Work? on 01/08/2017 at 11:21

    […] This blog post has been re-published by kind permission of Gavin Meikle – View the original post . […]

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