What makes a good public speaker?

This is the two-minute self-recorded audio element posted on SoundCloud. The topic is what makes a good public speaker. A transcript and references can be found below.

Link to the post:


Something that I and many others struggle with is public speaking. The thought of getting up in front of a crowd and delivering a speech is frightening to a lot of people. Experienced speakers (Baccarani & Bonfanti, 2015 p. 376) who have written on the topic agree that public speaking is a skill and it can only be acquired through practice and experience. Even with frequent practice, there is no definite formula for success, as what makes a speech effective largely depends on the audience. Still, preparing a plan and careful delivery of the speech are vital aspects of public speaking that can be practiced.

It is important to know that the effort and planning involved in a speech will change drastically depending on the context and audience. The target audience will dictate the style of the presentation (Cenere et al. 2015, p. 346). Before you start planning your speech, you should have a clear message to focus on during the speech. The goal can be anything, but good speakers present a simple and memorable message that the audience will remember afterwards (Cenere et al. 2015, p. 347). Good speeches generally follow a certain structure. They introduce with a ‘hook’, something to draw the audience’s interest. The body of a speech should be presented in a logical sequence, with key points emphasised (Cenere et al. 2015, pp. 347-8). Finally, the speech should end with a powerful conclusion. Typically this is a ‘call to action’, asking the audience to think or act in a certain way.

Even with a potentially effective speech, people can struggle. What is it that makes people good at the speaking part? Something good public speakers do is engage with their audience, making them listen and believe that the speaker cares. This is done primarily through non-verbal communication (Cenere et al. 2015, p. 353). Eye contact, a clear and well projected voice and emphatic movements demonstrate confidence and knowledge of what is said. Consistency between the words spoken and the message communicated non-verbally is essential. The disconnect between the messages communicated can completely break a speech. Finally, a talking speed of about 100-125 words per minute allows the audience to keep up without boring them.

Being concise is also an important quality, so I will quit around here. Hopefully you know more about what makes someone a good public speaker.


Baccarani, C Bonfanti, A 2015, ‘Effective public speaking: a conceptual framework in the corporate-communication field’, Corporate Communications: An International Journal, vol. 20, no. 3, pp. 375-390.

Cenere, P, Gill, R, Lawson, C & Lewis, M 2015, ‘Communication skills for business professionals’, Cambridge University Press, Melbourne, Vic


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