Woman speaking to a group of people.
From confidence to authenticity, there are several key personality traits that good public speakers share. — Getty Images/Luis Alvarez

If you’re trying to improve your public speaking skills, you should study the behaviors of other great speakers. Here are the eight traits of a great public speaker — developing these skills will help you begin to hone your craft.

Confidence

Confidence is one of the most important characteristics of a public speaker. It will be hard to connect with your audience if you come across as timid or overly nervous during your presentation.

A certain amount of nervousness may be inevitable, so you need to develop strategies to deal with these feelings. The best way to do that is with practice — if you know the material and spend time working on your speech, it will be easier to show up confidently.

You can also show confidence through your body language. Maintain eye contact with your audience, move around the stage, and use hand gestures to demonstrate your points.

[Read more: Leadership for Introverts: How to Lead Successfully]

Concise

Effective communicators know how to get their points across in a succinct way. They know how to speak clearly and avoid confusing their audience. This makes it easier for the audience to absorb and take action on the information you’re sharing.

One way to be more concise is to break your presentation into smaller chunks of information. And avoid the urge to over-explain yourself and restate your points using different words.

Ability to read the room

People who are excellent public speakers are good at reading the room and picking up on the audience's nonverbal cues. For instance, you notice if they seem bored or disengaged during your speech and can adjust your presentation accordingly.

Learning how to read the room takes time because you have to get out of your head first. Stay focused on the audience and the goal of your presentation. Over time, you’ll learn how to read your audience’s micro-expressions and understand how they’re receiving the information.

[Read more: How to Improve Your Public Speaking]

Authenticity is what allows your audience to connect with you during your speech. If your speech comes across as inauthentic, it will be harder for the audience to trust you and take your message seriously.

Enthusiasm

People can tell when you’re excited about the topic you’re speaking on, and they can also tell when you’re just going through the motions. And enthusiasm is contagious, so if you’re excited about the information, it’s more likely to rub off onto your audience.

If speaking with enthusiasm doesn’t come naturally to you, this is a skill you can develop. Work on showing enthusiasm in your voice, body movements, and the pace with which you deliver the speech.

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Self-awareness

You need to understand your strengths and weaknesses to be an effective speaker. Know what your best qualities are and how you can use these to enhance your presentation skills.

You should also know your weak points and look for ways to minimize them. Great speakers are always looking for ways to improve and make their presentations more engaging.

Authenticity

Authenticity is what allows your audience to connect with you during your speech. If your speech comes across as inauthentic, it will be harder for the audience to trust you and take your message seriously. Focus on being yourself and telling stories that are honest and vulnerable.

Knowing how to dress

As a public speaker, your attire matters much more than you might think. You want to dress in a way that’s comfortable and fits your sense of style but also resonates with the audience. For instance, the demographic you’re speaking to will inform your clothing choice.

Adaptability

No matter how well you prepare for a speech, there’s always the potential that something could go wrong. Maybe your slide deck stops working halfway through your presentation, or you forget what you planned to say.

As a speaker, it’s essential to be adaptable and expect the unexpected. This attitude will allow you to stay calm, focus on the audience, and decide what you’re going to do next.

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Published September 26, 2022