Whether it is due to the five years he spent running Virgin for Richard Branson or his recent exposure to the dull denizens of the civil service, Don Cruickshank is a rambler and a mumbler. As president of the Investor Relations Society, he could have made a better job of kicking off its yearly conference. Perhaps 9am was too early.
With all presentations, it's the start that sets the tone. You have to 'be there': stride purposefully to the podium, look your audience in the eye, stand still and hit them hard with something that will engage. Cruickshank was nervous and it showed. Shallow breathing resulted in swallowed words and tailed-off sentences.
It was refreshing that he spoke from notes and not from a turgid script prepared by some Stock Exchange apparatchik, but this does not obviate the need for rehearsal. At points he seemed puzzled.
Cruickshank argued that the regulation restricting the UK stock market boosts confidence, which brings deeper liquidity and in turn makes it easier for businesses to raise money. He wanted the audience's help in persuading the Government to abolish stamp duty on share transactions - a tax that makes us globally uncompetitive. But even if you have the facts and some strong messages, you must deliver them powerfully to be effective. Cruickshank might as well have sent the audience an e-mail.
Key moment: The UK's regulatory environment means that, on average, London-quoted companies issue 700 announcements a year.
Key lesson: Get your message across powerfully in the first few minutes.
Silver tongue or foot in mouth?