Characteristics of a Good Public Speaker
Defining a public speaker as ‘good’ or ‘bad’ is relative as it depends upon the audience. If the audience is mature, they will expect an exemplary delivery of speeches by whoever climbs the podium. Alternatively, amongst youngsters and novices, lower standards will be expected. Therefore, there is no sacrosanct definition of a ‘good’ speaker. Nonetheless, certain characteristics define a public speaker who delivers his/her speech well.
A public speaker who can be termed as a ‘good public speaker’ is one who has the following:
- Pertinent ScriptA person’s speech depends upon the script – he/she speaks what is written. This does not mean that the script should be read out verbatim (i.e., word for word), but should be used as a guide while speaking. The speaker has the option to use notes or Teleprompters rather than reading straight from a sheet of paper. If the latter is done, the speaker becomes boring as he/she is paying more attention to the paper than to the audience.
- Choice of LanguageA good public speaker is one who uses a language that the audience can identify with and understand. Using tough language leads to boredom amongst the audience and a good speaker always keeps his/her audience at par with his speech. The choice of language and words used ensure that the speaker has his/her audience rapt in attention and involvement.
- Posture and Body LanguageConfidence is a key characteristic of a good speaker. His/Her posture and body language indicates a confidence about himself/herself as well as the sanctity and thoroughness of the content of the speech. However, very often, a speech can be ‘empty’ but the speaker may ooze confidence. This comes about due to the individuals’ personality.
- Eye ContactA good speaker always makes eye contact with the audience, not continuously with one person but keeps moving eye contact through several people in the audience. Staring in the eye of one person can make that person feel uneasy. Further, the constant moving around ensures involvement of different members of the audience.
- Empathy, Not SympathyA good speaker ensures that his/her words empathize with the audience – If not the whole audience in totality, then at least some of them (as at times, an audience can have members from the opposition as well). In this way, the speaker makes himself better understood and the audience members feel that he/she understands them and their situations rather than being against them.
- Emotion and MotivationEvoking deep feelings amongst people is an art that most good speakers ensure. Words can motivate people by urging them towards a positive thought, action, or behaviour. A public speaker should be proficient in getting his/her audience emotionally involved. This ensures positivism amongst the listeners who then believe in the knowledge and views of the speaker.
- Humour and Light-HeartednessEven the most serious of speakers can have lighter moments as otherwise it tends to become boring for the listeners. To avoid people dozing off during the speech, a good speaker intersperses the serious bits with lighter comments or anecdotes. It is up to the speaker to judge the mood and alter his/her speech accordingly.