Making a success of public speaking


Celia Delaney has always had a fascination with how people operate and what makes them tick.  Since leaving school she has explored this from four different angles – psychology, HR, drama and business.

Celia studied Experimental Psychology at the University of Oxford because she was interested in the way people think. She was drawn to HR – she was HR Director of a Unilever factory site – because she was interested in how people work. She got into acting because she wanted to understand how people feel and now she combines them in her company, SpeakingSuccess.

“It’s about looking at people from three different angles,” she says.

She started her path towards enterprise after she left acting and moved to Devon. Her husband said he didn’t want any children so she says she started her business as a substitute for children. “It has been my baby ever since,” she says.

Originally she taught communication skills, but gradually she developed her own niche, focusing on training business people in public speaking and sales.

When she turned 40 she also became a comedian and uses those skills in her work. “Humour helps learning. It’s like a spoonful of sugar,” she says, adding that it is also very useful in sales. “Making people laugh builds rapport and breaks the ice,” she states, recounting how she got a man who had a deep fat frying oil business to take up some coaching by joking with him over her fee. “He said he was in the wrong job. I said he didn’t need to hear my fee to know he was in the wrong job,” she laughs. “He got in touch shortly afterwards.”

Since 2014 she has been working jokes and singing into her popular keynotes at conferences and in after-dinner speeches.

Overcoming fears about public speaking

Celia says a lot of business people have a fear of public speaking. She has developed her own programme which she calls iPersuade. The first pillar of this is iPrepare. It exploits her psychology training to get business people over their fear of public speaking and build their confidence. The second pillar iPresent draws on Celia’s drama training and addresses how people speak and move around the stage, their body language and the visuals or notes they use in their presentation. The third pillar is iPromote. It’s a five-step process and it  focuses on honing the content of a speech and on script writing. The last pillar is iPersuade which is about sales technique.

Celia has worked with men and women equally and, although both can lack confidence when it comes to public speaking, she says the main difference is that men are less open about it. Women are also more prone to blaming themselves when things go wrong and are less likely to accept the credit when they go right, she adds. She tries to reverse this process by encouraging people to focus on what went well rather than dwelling on what didn’t.

On 9th March, Celia will give the keynote speech at The British & International Franchise Exhibition held in association with the British Franchise Association at London’s Olympia. Her seminar, The 5 P’s of Speaking to Promote your Business, will illustrate how the skills behind powerful public speaking translate to communicating with influence in all aspects of running a business.

She has been working with franchises for more than seven years, usually with franchisors or franchisees who cover a wide area, and was a speaker at the 2017 Women in Franchising forum. She thinks franchises can be a very good way to start a business within a tried and tested model. For working mums, she says running your own franchise can offer a greater degree of autonomy or flexibility. The first franchise client she coached in sales using her iPromote structure in 2011 was working mum Sarah Cressall, founder of The Creation Station.

Celia says: “I absolutely love franchising – I find it to be an incredibly friendly and supportive sector. I am passionate about helping franchisees leverage the power of clear and impactful communication and look forward to helping the audience hone their skills in this area. I firmly believe you can run your business more effectively when you are a more confident communicator.”

*The British & International Franchise Exhibition will include over 60 seminars and workshops designed to equip the audience with essential information regarding franchising. There is also a Children’s Activity Centre so families can visit together. To book free tickets, visit

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