8 Traits of Powerful Public Speakers (and How to Develop Them)

If you’re anything like me, just the thought of public speaking is enough to send shivers down your spine.

Yet for some it is a piece of cake to speak in front of large groups. They command the stage with ease, keeping the audience hanging on every word.

So what’s their secret? How do they manage to effortlessly captivate a room? And above all: how can we become better public speakers ourselves?

In this article, we look at eight traits found in powerful public speakers and what we can do to develop them.

1) They have confidence

Self-confidence is the cornerstone of effective public speaking.

It’s not about being selfish, it’s about believing in your message and your ability to deliver it.

Think about it.

If you don’t fully believe in what you say, how can you expect anyone else to?

People can sense our confidence through our actions, words and body language. And the more confident we appear, the more competent and credible we appear.

Science also supports this.

HAS Study from 2016 by psychologist Dr. Daniel Campbell-Meiklejohn from the University of Sussex examined the brains of 23 participants and discovered this…

Our brains automatically give more weight to the opinions of people who appear confident than people who are not.

This is why the standard advice of “just do it until you make it” doesn’t work.

Instead of pretending, try the exercises below to build your confidence.

Develop trust

  • Visualization – Close your eyes every day and imagine yourself during your presentation. Visualize this scenario in as much detail as possible, feel the triumph and see your audience in awe.
  • Sit with your fear – Instead of suppressing your nerves or trying to ignore them, take the time to sit with them. By sitting with our feelings, we become more comfortable with them; so things no longer seem so scary.

2) They show passion

If someone is passionate about what he or she is discussing, you can’t help but be interested, even if it’s a topic that wouldn’t normally catch your attention.

In public speaking, passion is the fire that turns a dull conversation into a fiery performance.

Passion is contagious. When you’re passionate, your audience can’t help but get caught up in the excitement.

As a result, they are more likely to listen attentively and believe what you say, making your words more memorable and impactful.

Develop passion

Passion is not something to develop, but something to find and tap into.

The best way to appear passionate is to choose topics you love. Your passion comes out naturally when you talk about things that really spark your enthusiasm.

I also share personal stories when I find it difficult to connect with my passion. Talking about our experiences usually arouses our enthusiasm and makes us seem recognizable and authentic.

And speaking of stories…

3) They are storytellers

It’s not just children who love stories. Verhalen prikkelen de zintuigen van een volwassene net zo goed als die van een kind.

Science explains why.

When we hear a story we resonate with, our brain produces the love hormone cortisol oxytocin. Hierdoor voelen we ons meer vertrouwend en empathisch tegenover de spreker.

Furthermore, neuroscience has discovered that our brains synchronize with the narrator’s brain when we listen to a story.

This phenomenon, called neural couplingexplains why we become so emotionally involved with the characters of a story and often feel like we are part of it.

Developing storytelling skills

4) They are authentic

But what does an authentic speaker look like?

Authentieke sprekers zijn niet bang om hun ware zelf te laten zien. They don’t try to appear perfect; ze omarmen en pronken met hun gebreken en eigenaardigheden.

Develop authenticity

Remember that no person is perfect, so don’t try to be. It’s okay to make mistakes, so why not acknowledge them and share how you learned from them?

5) They embrace vulnerability

In her bookDare big,’ Brene Brown says that vulnerability is not a weakness, but a measure of courage.

Developing vulnerability

Of course, your struggles should always have a positive spin – you want to leave your audience moved and inspired, not depressed.

So talk about your challenges, but also share:

  • The pivot point
  • The lessons you learned along the way
  • Key moments of your personal growth

6) They are clear and concise

  • Stick to the point – Avoid digressing and going off on tangents.
  • Edit ruthlessly

7) They read the room

When I first started teaching yoga, I realized one thing they didn’t teach in yoga school: how to read the room and adapt to the needs of your audience.

  • Pay attention to their body language
  • Adjust your pace
  • To be flexible – Your speech may sound great, but if certain points don’t resonate, be prepared to change.

8) They are self-aware

  • Seek feedback – Before you take the stage, give your speech to a small group of people you trust and who will give you honest, constructive criticism.

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