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Let's raise a toast to Barbara, a master of the art of public speaking

MOST marketers are no different to anyone else. When it comes to public speaking, the very thought makes them cringe.

Being able to address a conference or product launch with the ease and confidence of a Barack Obama is a rare gift.

The best most people can hope for is to struggle through bravely without stuttering and stammering and fumbling through notes.

Public speaking is a handy way to promote a business or the person fronting the business. But it's easier said than done.

There are guidelines to help people carry it off and avoid tricky situations and boring audiences. So says Barbara Moynihan (pictured), past president of Toastmasters International's Dun Laoghaire branch and a communications skills trainer.

She says there are good reasons why presentations fail. Firstly, people don't bother to know their audience and talk about what interests them.

Be sure to smile. Prepare, practise and just be yourself. Silence speaks volumes, Moynihan says.

Using the right pauses adds impact and helps emphasise a speech's key points. A lack of facial expression is a big no-no.

We have 80 muscles in our face capable of producing 7,000 facial gestures.

It pays to use them to help engage people. Good eye contact is crucial. Avoid tech-talk and if you show slides, make sure they add value and aren't just a crutch. Humour works.

You don't have to be a Dara O Briain, but people enjoy some fun. If you can't tell a joke, share an anecdote or show a movie clip. Make sure your speech is clear and has a start, middle and end.