7 Essential Traits of Awesome Public Speakers

Art of Public Speaking, Excel at Oratory

The thought of speaking in front of an audience strikes fear into the hearts of many. What if I forget my lines? What if I freeze? How should I respond if people laugh at me?

Public speaking is rarely an easy task that comes naturally, however those who master it are revered for their ability to convey complex ideas into easy to understand, relatable messages. The great speakers throughout history are seemingly able to do this with ease. We marvel at their ability to speak so fluidly and with such conviction, all without a single stutter or a misplaced word.

Great Speakers Throughout History

Their personality and passion has the power to captivate and inspire people for generations. They command attention, and have historically inspired action through their tremendous wisdom and personality. Winston Churchill, a man who is highly regarded as one of the most powerful speakers in history, used a combination of techniques to engage his audience. In his book on the history of World War II entitled “The Storm of War,” Andrew Roberts writes:

Winston Churchill managed to combine the most magnificent use of English – usually short words, Anglo-Saxon words, Shakespearean, and also this incredibly powerful delivery. And he did it at a time when the world was in such peril from Nazism, that every word mattered.

Another fantastic speaker was Martin Luther King, who was known for his rhythmic, almost musical style of delivery. He would build his audiences to a final crescendo of intensity and would speak with such passion and conviction, that he simply could not be ignored. The best speakers can often sum up their message in just a sentence or two. One of Kings famous lines from his I have a dream speech is:

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the colour of their skin, but by the content of their character.

Public speaking holds tremendous value. It can help us share our ideas, get us a better job, make us more money, even change the world. So what’s holding you back from embracing it?

Ask yourself what utilizing this power could look like for your career or business. Do you want to build upon your leadership or communication skills? Perhaps you want to boost your confidence and develop richer interpersonal relationships? Or maybe your goal is just to motivate people.

Whatever your goal, public speaking is a fantastic skill to possess!

Here are 7 essential traits of awesome public speakers:

1) Speakers Are Made, Not Born

For anyone who has seen the movie The Kings Speech they will know that speakers aren’t born, they’re made. For those not familiar, the movie documents King George VI, a man with a crippling speech impediment who must perform a speech for millions. He fails, time and time again, becoming nervous and unable to express himself. However by the end of the movie, with the help of a language and behavioural therapist, he is able to overcome his fears and deliver a powerful speech. Like almost anything in life, practise makes perfect, therefore if you believe that you are “not made for public speaking” that is simply not true.

The truth is there is no such thing as “a natural speaker”. Sure, there will be some that find it slightly easier than others, however with hard work and dedication; you too can become an amazing and confident speaker.

2) The Value of Preparation

A great man once said “failing to prepare is preparing to fail” and this rings true when it comes to public speaking.

Audiences can sense when someone is nervous and underprepared, so that means you need to rehearse, rehearse, rehearse! Taking online courses and reading books is a great way to equip you with the knowledge needed for success. However, if you can’t do that for whatever reason or your time is limited, I would always recommend practising in front of a mirror. Practising in the mirror is a great way to prepare you for the real thing. Now this may feel a little weird at first, but give it a try. This will allow you to get out of your own head and analyse your facial expressions, your tone of voice and your body language.

3) The Rule of Three

Much to do with being a successful public speaker relies on your awareness of human psychology. Modern day scientists have put the number of items that we can easily recall in our short-term memory to just three or four “chunks”. Simply put, the rule of three is a principle that states that ideas presented in threes are inherently more interesting, more enjoyable, and more memorable for your audience. Use this technique to solidify your points and create longer lasting memories.

4) Presentation Matters

How you show up matters. Whether you like it or not people formulate a first impression of you almost immediately. Therefore, especially if you’re representing your company or organisation, it’s important to both look and act the part. Is your brand or organisation a creative young start up? Then perhaps keep your look and presentation more informal.

5) Watch Your Delivery

How we say the words matters just a much than the words themselves. For example we can say things playfully, ironically, or with a strong conviction. There’s a wonderful book by Stephen E. Lucas called The Art of Public Speaking and he stresses the importance of not just what we say, but how we say it.

When practising, try to vary the pace and tone in which you talk. This helps to keep audience members engaged and can be used to emphasise certain elements of your speech. Talking quickly tends to get people excited, whereas talking slowly and deeply helps people to better digest your point. Experiment with your delivery, try telling a joke and don’t be afraid to mix it up.

6) Tell a Story

Charlie Jones once said “Never make a point without a story and never tell a story without a point”. Therefore when you are able to make a point involving a story, the point is remembered much better than if you don’t. If you can strategically tell a story, this is a powerful way to engage an audience.

People won’t remember every word you say, but they will remember how you made them feel.

7) Patience is Your Best Friend

Silence is golden, and although our instinct may be to rush through something we find uncomfortable, the great speakers know how to take their time. Never be afraid to take a few breaths and slow things down after making a key point.

Other Top Tips for Success

Know Your Topic

Remember that your goal as a speaker is to transfer your big idea into the minds of your audience. This means that knowing your topic is essential. Think about it, if you don’t know your topic inside out, how can you expect your audience to? Therefore the more time you take in researching and understanding your topic, the more natural your speech will feel and the better the information will flow.

Give People a Reason to Care

Now this may sound somewhat harsh, but you need to give people a reason to care. This comes from being authentically you, and showing how passionate you are about what you’re speaking about. This isn’t always easy, however a powerful way to illicit a response from your audience is to pose questions. If you make your audience curious, then you have their attention, and if you have their attention, they will almost certainly listen to what you have to say.

Body Language

One of the worst things you can do is to stand perfectly still and be robotic. Many introverted people tend to shell up when nervous. They stand with their arms crossed or they might play with their bracelet or wrist watch. Always be aware of what your body language is communicating.

On the flip side however, if you’re constantly pacing back and forth, that could also come across as unnatural and radiate nervous energy. Instead, take a deep breath before you go out there, keep your head held high and act casual.

Smile, Even if You Don’t Feel Like It

Studies have shown that smiling, even when you don’t feel like it, can actually increase the levels of serotonin in the brain, helping you to feel more relaxed. Human beings are also naturally inclined to respond positively to people who smile. So don’t forget that a smile can go a long way. Believe in yourself and remember to keep it light and positive.

Know Your Audience

Who are you speaking to? Who are your target audience? What are their expectations? Understanding these three things can drastically alter the way in which you present your ideas in your speech. For example if your audience is primarily in their 60’s, perhaps making a lot of pop culture references isn’t the best approach.

However if your audience are teenagers and people in their twenties, perhaps this could be more beneficial. Of course this isn’t always a hard and fast rule, but knowing your audience and putting yourself in their shoes can go a long way. Ask yourself, “If I were someone in my audience, what approach would engage me the most?”

So there you have it, 7 essential traits of awesome public speakers. My name’s Andy Redfern and I’ve given many talks and presentations in my career and these are just some of the things that have helped me along my journey. The two most important things to remember are to prepare as much as you can and to stay relaxed. For more useful information on public speaking don’t forget to check out this TED Talk.

Also stay tuned for more informative content on all things communication!

Return to Art of Public Speaking; EXCEL AT ORATORY

Products You May Like

Articles You May Like

Tell Me About Yourself – A Good Answer
How You Best Communicate With the Feminine
How to Be Effortlessly Charming
6 Public Speaking Tips to Hook Any Audience
How Bill Clinton Makes Eye Contact Work
Chris Evans – What Your Hands Say About You

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *