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Traits of a Great Public Speaker

No one was born with perfect public speaking skills, but anyone can learn them. No matter the topic or the audience, successful communication relies on the same abilities. What are the qualities of really good public speakers? What public speaking skills help them engage, influence and inspire their audiences? Where can everyday professionals learn these public speaking skills and how can they apply them?

Confidence Is Key

Good public speakers have several characteristics in common that communicate intelligence, likeability and success to their coworkers, clients and customers -- even to a group of strangers. For many people, standing up and making a presentation or giving a speech can be nerve-racking, so confidence is key. Good public speakers follow the maxim, "Never let them see you sweat." Fearlessness is a quality that can lend authority to public speaking, according to training and coaching expert Sarah Lloyd-Hughes, author of How to be Brilliant at Public Speaking.

Speakers who relax and focus on their message and not their audiences will put others at ease and hold their attention. Fearlessness is one of BBVA Compass's 10 bright principles, a new campaign the bank launched in 2016 designed to inspire everyone to succeed. "When you believe in yourself, others believe in you too," says BBVA Compass. Further, confident speakers who personalize their speeches with stories, anecdotes and examples create an air of authenticity that audience can relate to.

Benefits of Self-Reflection

Fearlessness and confidence are traits great public speakers develop through practice and self-reflection, a process that can help people develop a better understanding of their strengths and weaknesses. This kind of introspection can determine how we interact with others, and it can improve creativity and confidence, which leads to improved communication. Self-reflection can not only develop listening, communication and public speaking skills, but it can also help identify other opportunities for personal growth and professional development.

Knowledge and Preparation

Skilled communicators also know their topics. Insight, experience and expertise will earn an audience's trust. Great public speakers know where they are going with their messages; they know what they want the audience to take away, and they studied their material and prepared for their audiences so they can tailor their speeches or presentations for different groups.

Outstanding presenters also limit their speeches to 15 or 20 minutes, if possible. Keeping it short and to the point -- and thanking the audience for their time -- is as important as preparing and practicing a presentation. Lenny Laskowski, an international professional speaker and author of 10 Days to More Confident Public Speaking, says as a general rule, a speaker should spend about 30 hours of preparation and rehearsal time for every hour of speaking.

Learn Public Speaking Skills in an MBA Program

One of the best places to learn public speaking skills is in an MBA program. Students in an MBA program develop competitive advantages in the job market by taking courses that cover communication, self-reflection, leadership and public speaking skills. These competencies can set MBA graduates apart as leaders in any profession.

Learn more about Baylor University's online MBA program.


Time: How Anyone Can Become a Good Public Speaker

The Muse: 4 Qualities of Amazing Public Speakers

Magnetic Speaking: The Top 9 Characteristics of Effective Public Speakers

Inc.: 14 Must-Haves to Be a Great Public Speaker

Ginger: The Six Qualities of an Inspiring Speaker

LJLSeminars: Elements of an Effective Speech

Government Executive: Six Qualities That Made Martin Luther King, Jr. a Great Speaker

American Management Association: Seven Principles of Effective Public Speaking

Vanderbloemen Search Group: 6 Common Characteristics of Effective Communicators

The Balance: 10 Simple Secrets of Great Communicators

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