Some people have a knack for public speaking and can effortlessly deliver a speech, talk, or engage in a conversation with numerous people. Why do some people still stand out and are remembered more fondly than others? What qualities make them stand out from a similar group of people with similar attributes and abilities?
If I were to ask you to think of an excellent public speaker, who would they be, and what qualities will stand out amongst the others you also hear?
An excellent public speaker often holds a strong knack for public speaking but uses other qualities such as organizing the content, voice modulation, body language, effective communication, and persuasion or inspiration to add value to the speech. The public speaker reasonably considers these aspects before the final delivery because they know the importance and, as a result, is often considered a better one among others.
Let us consider each one in detail!
1. Organizing the Content
A competent and focused orator knows the importance of the logical flow of content and its importance in conveying the right message. When you hold knowledge on a particular topic but don’t logically organize it, it is not very helpful and can create confusion. Thus, you will always find that an excellent public speaker’s content will be in a logical flow so that it becomes easy to understand with equal importance given to every sub-topic.
Steps in organizing your content
If you are wondering how you can logically structure your content, here are some steps that you can follow: –
- General introduction of the content
- Aim/Objectives or the motives
- Body wherein you discuss the main content such as pros and cons, how it helps etc.
- Interaction with the audience or audio-visuals can be shared,
- Conclusion and feedback
This is a general template that you can follow; however, tailor it to your specific topic and style.
Organizing the content will help you in a variety of ways, including allowing you to start from the beginning and working your way up; understanding if you need to fill in any gaps; and, during the delivery, these components will also help you recognize if the audience is grasping the content methodically, which is another essential aspect of being a good and insightful public speaker.
“Think like a wise man but communicate in the language of the people.”William Butler Yeats (davelinehan.com)
2. Voice Modulation
Notice that a good public speaker will have an excellent command over his voice modulating skills. They will often modify the tone to empathize with certain words and sentences, pause before and after essential pointers for understanding, and distinguish between crucial and passerby content.
How does Voice Modulation Help?
Voice modulation is crucial because it helps in the effective delivery of the content. Imagine if you were to hear someone who spoke in a monotonous tone versus someone who talked with the proper emphasis, techniques, and pauses for 5 minutes.
- Who are you likely to focus upon?
- Whose content are you more likely to remember?
The answer to both the answer is the latter person. This is because the person’s voice skills will have engaged you in the content, thereby also helping you retain it.
Effective voice modulation and communication are key ingredients in the most significant public speakers worldwide. This conscious practice often helps them stand out significantly with their speeches.
“No word was ever as effective as a rightly timed pause.”Mark Twain
How can you learn and practice voice modulation?
Articulating effective modulation is an important but doable task. Some steps that you can take in order to exercise this skill include –
1] Being Clear – when delivering a speech, clarity is of utmost importance. You may have the best speech but if you aren’t clear, it goes in vain. To improve your speaking clarity, try recording yourself to determine if you are clear and comprehensible. You can also give the speech in front of a group of coworkers or friends and ask them to check for clarity and provide feedback.
2] Exercise Voice Variation – there are a lot of techniques that can help you do this. Some of them include –
- Up-Down – in this exercise, all you have to do is recite one sentence in a high tone and the other in a low tone from a book, newspaper, or your speech. This aids you in being more adaptable and expanding your range.
- Recite a line – this activity can help you use your voice to communicate emotions. You must choose a line, such as “Bread and Bananas”, and recite it in various tones, such as high, angry, pleased, emphasized, fast, and so on.
While these exercises may appear to be simple or juvenile, they can help you build voice variation and modulation that you can then use in your speech and talks.
3] Practice Pauses – A very helpful technique to learn the act of timely pausing goes by the acronym STOP. Here you have to –
- S – stop to pause at a particular time in your speech such as after an introduction or important point.
- T– Take a couple of deep breaths. This allows you to pay attention to the audience.
- O– observe or pay attention to your surroundings and try to read the room to determine if your audience understands it.
- P– Proceed with discretion. After pausing to take attention to what is going on, we can choose whether to amend the point or continue forward.
If you want to learn more about these topics, check this video where we tell you all about voice modulation, the value of pausing, and how to correctly deliver a voice-modulated speech. You can also read this blog post on All You Need to Know About Voice Modulation & Tonality for Public Speaking for more information on voice modulation and the numerous aspects that make it such an important skill.
3. Body Language
Voice modulation focuses on the vocal delivery of content. While this is a critical aspect of making your content stand out, nonverbal gestures and body language play an equally important role. Nonverbal gestures, also known as body language, refer to an individual’s body posture, hand movement, facial expression, and co-coordination with the verbal content.
Notice that great public speakers will always have their hands in coordination with the content, facial expressions being altered according to the tone, and their body tone depicting openness instead of restrictiveness. You will find that their hands are moving and gesturing; they are often smiling, making eye contact, and walking on the stage.
Why Is Body Language Important?
Nonverbal qualities are essential because the variances help engage the audience in the talk. For example –
- When a speaker smiles and maintains eye contact, the audience perceives that the speaker is involved in the content and isn’t just blabbering.
- Moreover, these signs signal the speaker if you are in alignment with the content or not. If your words contradict your body language, the audience is less likely to hear and agree with what you say.
How to can you work on your body language?
Similar to voice modulation, body language is a workable task. You can take some of the following measures to work on your body language while delivering a speech –
1} Maintain eye contact with the audience – To glance around the room and maintain eye contact with the audience indicates that you are confident and well-versed with the talk. When you look down and not in the audience, they feel less interested and less included in the talk. As a result, maintaining and focusing on the audience becomes critical.
How to maintain eye contact? – In order to do that, try glancing around the room and maintaining eye contact with one individual for a few seconds. Then, glance aside for a few moments and focus on another person or your screen (if you have one). This will allow you to retain interpersonal contact while also giving you a general overview of the room, allowing you to determine whether or not your audience is engaged.
2} Use hand movements for emphasis – Hands can be used to stress and express essential information in the same way that pauses in voice modulation can. When you circle your hands or use them to focus on specific words, you’re signaling that it’s significant, and the audience is more likely to notice. Some powerful hand gestures that you can use include Listing, Contrasting, and Backhand Slap. Here is a visual that you can see and learn from that will compliment and enhance your speech!
Walking on stage – When you stand in one place and speak, you project a sense of rigidity. On the other hand, walking back and forth from the crowd to the stage and from one end to the other demonstrates involvement and a ready attitude.
Techniques for Stage Walking – Mind mapping is a great approach for remembering how to walk on stage. Before you start speaking, take a look around the room and make a mental picture of it. Make a route that will take you from one end to the other, pausing in the middle and then repeating the process. On stage, mind mapping is a useful tool for reminding to walk and avoid becoming stagnant.
These are some steps that you can take to include in your speech so as to enhance you body language. Body language is a silent accelerator of a great speaker. While it does not speak, the actions hear do speak louder than words.
4. Clear Communication
What distinguishes a great speaker from others is that they can clearly communicate their ideas and messages to the audience. This can be through simple language, complementary audio-visual screenings, question and answer rounds, and the pointers mentioned above, such as modulation, logical flow, and body language.
Steps to take to communicate with the audience clearly
You will often have your content in place but still wonder how I can deliver the message more clearly. Here are a few steps to keep in mind to help you communicate better.
- Start from the basics
It is essential to give a basic background before delving deep into the topic. This is because not every person comes from the same knowledge and idea as us, so it is helpful to set a context before diving into the main topic.
- Use basic language
Public speaking is more about conveying a message in the simplest possible way than displaying one’s vocabulary. As a result, it’s critical not to use jargon words because one never knows if the other person in the audience is familiar with specific terms. As a result, this gap may then pull people away from the discussion rather than draw them in.
- Take breathers
Taking a break or pause is helpful not because you gain some time to prepare for the next segment but because this period allows the audience to comprehend and take in the content. As mentioned before, pauses are equally crucial to the verbal content, and timely breaks help better grasp the content.
- Interact with the audience
Interacting with the audience is a great approach to get feedback and see if they understand what you’re trying to say. Interactions can take the form of question-and-answer sessions, anecdotes, and group discussions. These techniques can help you get feedback while also giving you an idea of how engaged the audience is with the speech.
- Include audio-visuals in your talk
The impact of visual learning is found to be way higher than verbal. One can keep explaining and elaborating on a very expertized topic but still find that their audience isn’t much engaged since they don’t have any visuals to look at. However, learning and understanding are increased when both modes are combined. Thus, it would help if you tried to include informational slides, videos, and audio to allow for the optimum grasp of the content.
Clear communication is a significant catalyst to becoming a great speaker. Try to remember an excellent public speaker, and you will find that their stream of communication was seamless.
5. Inspiring, Motivating or Persuasive
Another aspect common to great public speakers worldwide is their ability to inspire, motivate and persuade people, depending on the content and aim.
Many people attend talks to gain a perspective, feel inspirational, or acquire a viewpoint on a particular topic. Thus, a public speaker’s primary duty is to inspire, motivate, and encourage people for the better.
While this may seem like a task, a few things can be kept in mind when you decide to motivate, inspire or persuade people.
- Self-belief is very important
You have to believe and align with the content to help people. If you don’t believe or follow it, you won’t be able to motivate, inspire or convince the audience to follow it.
- Share personal experiences
Sharing personal anecdotes of success and failure and very helpful. These tales can help people connect and relate, encouraging and motivating them to move towards betterment.
- Be realistic
One way to inspire the crowd is to be realistic and practical. This involves being authentic with the positives, negatives, time taken, roadblocks, and the taste of success. When one is truthful, it helps the audience gain an overall perspective rather than only a sweet coated one which can later seem disheartening when they later see the truth.
How to adopt Good Public Speaking Skills?
Now that you know the secret to all the aspects that make an individual a great public speaker, it is only rational to wonder if you can adopt these and include them in your speech. Well, the answer is a happy yes! Of course, you can learn these skills and improve your talk. All the great speakers through history and now have consciously worked and adopted these skills, thus becoming the world’s most excellent public speakers. You too can work on these skills and learn them via various methods –
1] Practical training in these skills – Taking professional training in skills can help you effectively learn and adopt them. You can do so by joining International Organizations such as Toastmasters International which provides a supportive environment to practice these skills. If you wish to enroll and gain more personal coaching, Toastmaster provides one-on-one coaching as well. To know more about the nearest club, enrollment, and other activities, you can check out their website https://www.toastmasters.org/. On the other hand, If you wish to take up a self-paced route, there are a variety of excellent courses on Udemy and Coursera that you can do. Some of the best courses include –
- Introduction to Public Speaking – https://www.coursera.org/learn/public-speaking
- Presentations: Speaking so that People Listen – https://www.coursera.org/learn/presentations-speaking-so-that-people-listen
- Presentation Skills: Give More Powerful, Memorable Talks – https://www.udemy.com/course/presentation-skills-public-speaking/
2] Learning by modeling those speakers – As previously stated, you can also learn by watching videos of famous public speakers and observing what characteristics set them apart from the rest. Modelling and learning are both beneficial, and this is a pathway you can choose as well. To do so, watch recordings of well-known speakers like Tony Robbins, Oprah Winfrey, Nick Vujicic, and Sadhguru to see how they communicate, connect with the audience, and alter their tones while emphasizing key points. As a result, attempt to apply such strategies to your speech as well.
Gain more theoretical knowledge – Understanding the theoretical reasons behind these practical skills is as essential as learning them. In order to gain this knowledge, you can follow websites, read books and study more about these skills and how you can learn them. Some famous self help books include –
- The Art of Public Speaking – by Stephen Lucas
- Talk Like TED: The 9 Public-Speaking Secrets of the World’s Top Minds – by Carmine Gallo
- TED Talks: The Official TED Guide to Public Speaking – by Chris Anderson
- The Quick and Easy Way to Effective Speaking – by Dale Carnegie
- Speak like Churchill, stand like Lincoln – by James Humes
We at Frantically Speaking also have a blog covering all aspects of Public Speaking and Communication. You can read some introductory articles such as –
- Public Speaking: The Carrier Of Your Career
- 5 Powerful Ways To Effectively Engage An Audience When You Present
Examples of Great Public Speakers
We have had admirable and exceptional public speakers throughout history who have delivered speeches that have stayed with us throughout our lives. Even today, certain recent contemporary speakers are among the most well-known and extensively listened to. Wondering who some of them are?
- Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. – Throughout history, Martin Luther King has been one of the most popular and well-known speakers. One of the most motivating and memorable speeches of all time is his “I Have a Dream” address. He is still considered one of history’s finest speakers. What makes King stand apart from other speakers was his –
- Remarkable articulation of thought – He used simple and understandable language to communicate and reach the common people.
- Excellent voice modulation – Important phrases and points were well emphasized and stressed, which made it stick well with the audience.
- Honesty and belief in his dream – King spoke for what he believed in. He persistently motivated the audience to stand up for equality because it was his dream too.
2. Nelson Mandela – Mandela, a well-admired revolutionary, frequently spoke about freedom and equality. His best-known speech, “An ideal I am prepared to die for,” is still considered one of the most thought-provoking speeches. Qualities that made him an extraordinary speaker was –
- Persistent Motivation – Mandela too believed in what he preached. Therefore, he continuously motivated people by aligning their vision and pushing them ahead towards oneness.
- Robust vocal modulation – Nelson Mandela’s speeches are an example of how voice modulation impacts the audience. His timely pauses, efficient stresses, and subtle repetition did the magic of sticking with the audience.
3. Margaret Thatcher – Margaret Thatcher was UK’s first female Prime Minister, and her speeches greatly impacted the audience. She talked with a level of assurance, effective repetition, and modulation that set her apart from other era speakers. During one of her many speeches, she used the line “The lady’s not for turning” at a conservative party in London, which eventually became known as one of her most famous speeches titled the same name.
4. Tony Robbins – Tony’s simplicity and honesty make him a unique contemporary speaker. His talks frequently contain lessons of personal improvement, and he leads the audience along a path of actual inspirational experiences. He is a guiding and motivating speaker to many because of his effective but subtle use of repetition and clear voice modulation. While some of his speeches are available on YouTube, his website also has mediums like the podcast and live events that can be attended online. Head onto his website https://www.tonyrobbins.com/ to find some speeches that will hit you right in your heart!
5. Brene Brown – Brene Brown has been a long-time speaker and researcher-storyteller. Her speeches, mostly on the topic of Vulnerability; are based on scientific evidence and frequently aid in better understanding people. She uses a similar approach to Tony, that of simplicity, repetition, and modulation to reach the audience. Amongst many of her speeches available on YouTube, she also runs podcasts on Spotify under the name – Unlocking Us!
To know more about them and who are some other most outstanding speakers, what common qualities they hold, what made them stand out, and how you can learn these skills, read this comprehensive list of 15 Greatest Public Speakers of All Time!
Public speaking is a lifestyle, one that you can alter and modify. The better you make it, the better you become!