Don’t you just hate it when you find a blog post somewhere on the internet that reads, “Here are the top X number of ways to achieve such and such.”
As if there are “only” 5 or 9 or whatever number of ways to achieve a certain thing.
And yet here we are, reading just such an article together and enjoying the irony.
I’m pretty sure that these 5 qualities of great public speakers will be 100% worth the read, though.
And I do hope that the tips I share below are ones that genuinely help you, if for no other reason than because they’re not the same old regurgitated tips you find everywhere else.
The truth of the matter is that great public speakers are not born. They are made.
Becoming a public speaker who is worth their salt is neither a day's job nor a skill you simply acquire and hone overnight. Public speaking is both art and science.
It takes practice, resilience, and the ability to silence your fears - at least for the time being until you leave the stage.
If you're reading this, chances are you’re searching for ways to become a better public speaker. Fortunately for you, I’ve put together a list of 5 essential qualities to help you achieve just that.
If you are lacking in one aspect or another, then don’t worry. You can develop and master all these qualities if you apply the right amounts of commitment, practice, willpower, and proper public speaker training.
So, without further ado, let's jump right in and find out what makes great public speakers great!
A Good Public Speaker Studies Other Good Public Speakers
There may be good public speakers worldwide, but no perfect ones exist. An excellent public speaker understands this and uses it to their advantage.
One of the best ways to study other speakers is to watch them on stage. Doing this is recommended - not as an attempt to steal their "shtick" or to mimic them verbatim, but as a way to see what is effective and isn't.
Studying what gestures, analogies, and words elicit a favorable response from the audience can be good if you take note of them, modify them, and make them your own.
A Good Public Speaker Is Not Afraid To Be Themselves
Have you ever listened to a motivational speaker and thought, “Hey, didn’t I just hear that on the Tony Robbins video I watched the other day?”
What's worse, the speaker not only sounds EXACTLY like Tony Robbins, but they also behave and move like Tony Robbins. What's up with that?
One of the major mistakes that people who are new to public speaking make is trying to be someone else. Someone they probably have heard speaking before and want to emulate or mimic.
There are many problems with mimicry and being someone other than yourself. If there's one thing humans are good at identifying, it's a lack of authenticity.
Your audience may not know what’s off about you, but they'll feel it. You’ve no doubt felt this yourself when that little voice inside you catches the person on stage, trying (maybe just a bit too hard) to sound like another popular public speaker.
Certain combinations of rhythm and cadence work well for some people when they speak in public but come off as terrible for others. An excellent public speaker is comfortable in their skin and is perfectly fine with speaking and acting how they usually would.
A good public speaker should understand that while there is always room for improvement, putting on a facade and becoming a totally different person during a speech is another ball game entirely.
What makes being yourself so powerful as a public speaker, is that it also encourages your audience to feel comfortable enough to be themselves.
If dancing or corny dad jokes are your thing, then own the dance moves and the corny dad jokes.
As long as your actions are appropriate for the stage, you shouldn’t be afraid to let loose and be yourself.
A Good Public Speaker Always Practices & “Puts In The Work”
An excellent public speaker puts in the work.
“Everybody wants to be famous, but nobody wants to do the work … You grind hard so you can play hard … Eventually, your hard work will pay off.” - Kevin Hart
It doesn’t matter what career you have or what you are trying to get better at; to be successful, you must prepare and put in the work. It won’t be easy sometimes, but that is where the real growth happens.
Public speaking, like every other area of endeavor, requires preparation. Anyone who simply "appears" to be good at what they do, be it basketball, academics, or even politics, has worked to be where they are.
These individuals have done their homework and are prepared to do it repeatedly.
If you want to be that public speaker who looks awesome on stage and IS memorable, you must be prepared to do the work ahead of time.
Do your research, practice, and then practice some more because - PRACTICE is what makes a great public speaker!
A Good Public Speaker Values The Experience Of Being On Stage
A great public speaker should value the experience of being on stage. So much so that they seize any opportunity to be on stage (no matter how small).
Here’s what I mean.
You’re at a wedding. The MC asks if anyone has anything to say about the bride and groom. If you’re someone who understands the value of experience, then you know that even this seemingly small opportunity to stand up and speak for 30 seconds will be invaluable.
And if you’re "unprepared” to talk…EVEN BETTER!
Because great public speakers can speak off the cuff, and, as point #3 emphasized, an excellent public speaker is ALWAYS practicing and putting in the work to be prepared for any opportunity to speak.
The bottom line is this…
The best way to be more comfortable on stage is to get on stage more. So take every opportunity (no matter how small) to stand up and be heard.
A Good Public Speaker Puts Their Audience First
Great public speakers love the spotlight (if you’re smiling right now, it’s because you know it’s true - haha).
But as thrilling as the podium is and as unforgettable as the feel of the mic is in your hands; you should understand that your audience comes first.
‘How do I cater to my audience?' should be the first question you ask yourself from the moment you get on stage.
You can be sure that if you ask this question first, find a suitable answer and act on it, the thunderous sound of applause will be what ushers you off the stage.
As much as you love the spotlight, you should love your audience more. The best speakers in the world come from a place of humility and giving. Figure out what your audiences’ wants and needs are, and use what you now know to serve them better.
Got it? Great.
What Makes a Great Public Speaker: The Wrap-Up
There are no fixed number of rules for becoming a powerhouse public speaker.
And, of course, there are more qualities that make a great public speaker than the five outlined above.
However, these five I’ve shared with you today are the ones I think are among the most important.
Putting conscious effort into being a better public speaker may prove to be that career or confidence boost you need.
Public speaking will get you noticed and make you seem more knowledgeable, charismatic, and successful. In short, there are no downsides to becoming better at public speaking.
If nothing else, I believe that these guidelines will put you on the quickest path to becoming a great public speaker.
Before You Go
Which quality will you practice first to level up your public speaking game?
If you’re unsure where to start, click the link below and check out our zero-to-hero public speaking course.