qualities of a great speaker

Explained: 11 Qualities of a Great Speaker

Becoming is better than being”

-Carol Dweck

Good public speaking is a talent that some are born with, and others acquire over time. While there is some advantage claimed by the former, everyone has equal potential to develop this skill. 

A great speaker possesses a wide array of qualities right from confidence, research skills, charisma, ability to modulate voice, appropriate body language, and more. We’ll talk about these in detail in the following article.

A mic, very often used by public speakers during events. Essential to address a large audience.

Before we dive into the importance of being a good speaker and applying this skill in the real world, let me clarify that you won’t be receiving the generic advice that most blogs and people out there give.

You must’ve heard things like “bring more ‘passion’ into your speech”, or “talk with confidence”, “be more energetic”, “talk louder”. But to be frank, those are all ridiculous tips with no applicability at all. Hardly anyone tells you what does ‘passion’ mean in this context, or HOW exactly is one to bring confidence on the table.

Well, if you’ve been a victim to these ludicrous suggestions, then you’ve come to the right place. We’ll tell you the exact meaning behind each of the qualities that we believe are possessed by a great speaker. Now, before we dive into the qualities…

Why is being a good speaker important?

It doesn’t matter if you’re an introvert or extrovert, a student or a professional, an artist or a manager, we all at some point in our lives have had to/will have to speak to an audience. As a student, it might be for things like elocution competitions, as an adult, it might be for business presentations. 

Whether it is a daily requirement or a rare opportunity, it is important to make an impact on the listeners. Being able to deliver a message effectively gives you a sense of power over your audience and makes you feel heard. It gives your opinions dominance over others. 

Now there are some nuances that need to be looked at. The qualities and traits possessed by an impactful speaker as follows:

  • Precision
  • Awareness
  • Listening
  • Eccentricity
  • Command
  • Relatability
  • Openness
  • Welcoming
  • Empathy
  • Story-telling
  • Authenticity

#Precision

A  great speaker does not beat around the bush, they’re very direct. They understand the value of time and therefore conduct themselves with precision. Sure, sometimes to build context they might indulge in stories or more personal anecdotes, however, they’re all essential to prove a point. 

He/she is aware of the fact that our attention span is progressively shrinking, and so they would make sure to keep their message short and sweet. 

#Awareness

That brings us to the next quality, awareness. Not the spiritual kind though, there is a very specific area of awareness that I refer to,  here. A great speaker has the knowledge of when, where, how, and how MUCH to speak.

What I mean by that is he/she has the ability to analyse a situation presented to them. Don’t worry, it’s not as complicated as it sounds. How you do that is you ask yourself a bunch of questions:

  • Do I have something meaningful to say?
  • Do I have a substantial amount of points to prove my point?
  • Is the time and place appropriate for a discussion? (For eg. You can’t talk about the importance of scientific temper at a wedding or a funeral)
  • Are the people you’re speaking to the intended audience for what you have to say? 

Analyzing the audience is very important. What you say can differ according to the set of people you’re speaking to.

Adults would require different presentation skills and content than young children or adolescents. One needs to be aware of it. 

#Listening

Being a good listener is one of the first steps to becoming a great speaker. How so, you may ask? Well, active listening is not only a pleasant trait to have but it also induces the virtue of patience in a person.

Being a patient listener allows you to grasp useful information and discard useless information which ultimately brings more clarity. It is a wise trait since it allows you to open your mind and acquire new perspectives into your own speech. 

And this is a passive activity, being a patient listener to a random stranger or your colleague might end up giving you insights that you can then incorporate in your content.

#Eccentricity

Eccentric man addressing an audience - a good quality for a speaker

A great speaker is considered great not only because of the way they speak but also (and perhaps more importantly) for WHAT they say. In this case, eccentricity is not a vice but a virtue.

What some people call “eccentric”, others call unique. Eccentricity has always had a negative connotation attached to it. However, they don’t realise that it gives a person a completely fresh perspective of the world. They see it in a different light, away from the norm. 

A great speaker does exactly that, take their UNIQUE view of the world and present it eloquently. In a way that consumes the audiences’ attention, they stay true to their own selves and shine a light on the lens through which they perceive things. 

And in today’s “out of the box thinking” world, the ability to be good at refreshingly presenting your ideas can take you places!

#Command

A great speaker usually concludes with actionable content, their speech is designed in such a manner that it urges you to do something at the end of it. 

For example, after listening to a motivational speaker, more often than not, you feel inspired to change something about your life for the better. That’s the magic of the speaker. If you feel indifferent while listening to a motivational speaker, then he/she would be considered to be failing at their job. 

#Relatability 

They know that if something is complex, it needs to be broken down into simple words. A great speaker knows how to explain or prove a point to even a layman, that’s how strong their command over language is.

This goes on to say that you need to really *understand* what you intend to talk about, down to the T. Only then would you be able to make it relatable. People understand things better when they can relate to it, situationally, or using metaphors. 

For example, a child does not understand complex concepts like business, but you must’ve seen a parent explaining to a child the idea of business like a barter system where they have to trade toys with a friend so that the child grasps what the core of the business is. 

You’d only be able to mold your content or connect it to metaphors if you comprehend it well. 

#Openness & #Welcoming

These two qualities are kind of interlinked. A great speaker has a humble, welcoming attitude. They’re open to criticism, feedback, and intend to turn it into something constructive. 

They develop empathy because it allows them to step into others’ shoes and expand the horizon of their own perspectives. Even their demeanor indicates their patience. They know how to separate personal from professional, and maintain those boundaries.

If you wanna know how to develop the skill to interact with your audience, check out our article that’ll guide you to do just that: 11 Engaging Ways To Interact With The Audience

#Empathy

In layman’s terms, empathy is the ability to step into someone else’s shoes and consider a perspective perhaps different from your own. A good speaker has the patience to be a good listener, being kind and open to other people’s point of view is what helps a speaker expand their own horizons. It also helps you to be realistic with the call to action you provide to your audience.

#Story-telling

The ability to make a speech interesting is to add an element of narrative to it. Making it a story really helps to hook your audiences’ attention. This can include peppering a few jokes here and there, starting with a personal anecdote. What these things do is allow the speaker to access a natural flow in their speech.

Apart from this, body language is an essential tool every great speaker must improve. Here’s an article we wrote in reference to the importance of body language, check it out: Body Language And Its Contribution To The Process Of Communication

Working on these skills to a level where it seems natural ATTRACTS people to you. It makes them want to hear what you have to say. 

#Authenticity

Authenticity comes with expanding your knowledge. Constantly challenging your boundaries and feeding your curiosity will add to the archive of information you hold in your brain. 

Knowing more things would automatically enable you to TALK about more things. 

How do I prepare myself?

You might think preparation goes unsaid if you’re planning to speak to an audience, but there are some specifics to be considered. Depending on your personality and skill, different situations of speaking require different kinds of preparation.

What I mean by that is, if you’re someone whose best work comes out when you systematically plan out every word of the speech along with subtopics on cue cards, then preparing your content beforehand and writing everything down to revise a bunch of times is a good idea. 

However, not everyone functions that way. You might be the kind of person who’s a sport for spontaneity. Sometimes people function best without preparation because they know how to entertain or work an audience, or they’re naturally skilled at it.

But even so, while there is no issue with that, it is wise to have some idea of what you’re getting yourself into. Perhaps checking the kind of crowd you will be addressing, or making a list of the areas you want to tap into while talking. These things eliminate the worst-case scenarios, like you freezing up out of nerves. 

So recognize your patterns and see what category you fit into, that will help you build further. 

Conclusion

Well, with that said, I believe you’re covered to begin your practice! But remember, apart from patience and perseverance, it’s important to be mindful of your progress. Keeping track of where you need improvement will help you get to your goal faster.

We wrote about the techniques of self-evaluation in a presentation, which involves being a good speaker too. Check it out here: 6 Ways You Can Evaluate Your Own Presentation

Hrideep Barot is the founder and chief writer at Frantically Speaking, a portal to help people learn everything about public speaking. The purpose of franticallyspeaking.com is to showcase the lessons that he has learned (and still learning) from his numerous stage experiences and mentors over all these years.