4 business people look onto a presentation. 1 is visible bored. 1 is doodling. 1 looking off into the distance. The text "Poor Public Speaking Costs Your Company" is seen in the direction they are facing.

Corporate Cost of Poor Public Speaking

Public speaking is without a doubt a vital part of business today. This is true of not only of public facing functions, but also internal communication. When the public speaking skills of individuals at any level of the corporate hierarchy are poor, there are impacts. It costs companies reputation, sales and money. The costs add up and are not trivial.

No patience to read, check out the infographic instead.

Reputation Damage

Any time an employee is in public on business, they are representing the company. Every encounter shapes the opinion of the people, not only of that employee, but the company. If it is the first encounter with your company, the personal impression of your employee becomes their entire impression of the company.

Your company reputation is on the line each and every time an employee acting in an official capacity opens their mouth in public!

How confident are you in the abilities of each person who has an external facing role? We aren’t just talking about the PR persons, but sales, support line agents, engineers, management. Still confident?

Potential Cost

If your corporate reputation is being hurt by public appearances, here is some of what your costs are likely to be:

  • perceived competency
    • hurt sales
    • drive contract prices down
  • marketing costs
    • rendering existing investment ineffective
    • costing more to repair damage
  • recruitment. Who wants to work for a company with less than competent workers?

The financial cost of each is highly dependent on your particular business. If your business relies on a professional reputation, the cost is probably high. Hard numbers are difficult in this area. Two areas to look at are: your marketing campaigns that focus on reputation and on why potential employees don’t accept jobs or even submit applications.

Sales Lost

We’ve already suggested that a loss of reputation could be costing you in sales, but poor public speaking might be costing the company directly. Your people must be prepared and persuasive, i.e. good public speaking. All the people at the table, not just the sales team.

You might be tempted to say, “this doesn’t effect us. Our sales people are great public speakers”. Perhaps these stats will change your mind.

63%

of company directors said improvement needed on recent pitches to them

73%

of company directors said poor presentation skills common mistake in pitches

57%

of B2B prospects feel sales teams are not prepared for first meeting

88%

of missed sales opportunities were due to sales being unable to find internal resources

The above stats suggest that even your sales department might not be as great of public speakers as you might think. Even if they are, don’t forget in many cases your non-sales staff are also involved in sales process at some point, e.g. technical staff.

Questions you might want to ask yourself:

  • How much does even a single lost sale cost you?
  • How many sales aren’t getting closed? (stats on this should exist in your company!)
  • How much are employees who appear untrained and unprepared costing you at the negotiation table?

Cost of Lost Productivity

Even internally poor communication skills are impacting your company and the costs are staggering. Poor communication costs US health care industry alone an estimated $12 Billion per year!  Lets though look at some more directly applicable stats.

  • 1/3 of meetings do not lead to productive outcomes
  • 1/2 of meeting time is estimated to be wasted
  • 15% of an organization’s collective time is spent in meetings
  • 62 meetings per month attended by ave. US worker (50 internal)
  • 300,000 working hours can be traced to a single weekly executive committee meeting.
  • 14% of employee’s time wasted due to poor communication. Equivalent to 7 weeks lost productivity per employee
  • 42% of employees time spent clarifying previous communication!

These are all fairly recent findings. Some may actually be worse now, as various studies show that every year a larger percent of employee time is dedicated to meetings. There is also some indication that the newest generations are not particularly competent with oral business communication.

Pretty crazy statistics, right. Lets take those statistics and make this directly applicable to your company. Below is a formula based on the above statistics. I’ve added in some defaults based on some US estimates, but feel free to change them to match your companies size and costs (not salary, but cost per person). You can also chose to use the more conservative numbers above in the estimate. What you get is a monthly cost of poor communication.

Effects your people: from Top to Bottom

In case you’re still clinging to the hope these costs don’t effect your company or doesn’t apply to the higher-ups who are so critical to your companies success, here are some further statistics from recent studies that should help convince you:

70%

of employed agree presentation skills are critical to their success & 20% would do almost anything to avoid it.

69%

of managers are uncomfortable communicating with their employees.

63%

of managers are uncomfortable communicating with their employees.

78%

of company directors say public speaking the most daunting business activity.

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Founder/CEO at Virtual Orator

Dr. Blom is a long time researcher in the VR field. He is the founder of Virtual Human Technologies, which applies VR and avatar technologies to human problems and helping better understand people. Virtual Orator exists largely because Dr. Blom wishes he had had such a tool instead of the ‘trail by fire’ he went through learning to speak in public.

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