Discover the Seven Essential Qualities of Exceptional Speakers (Part 2)

Last week, you saw behind the curtain of the first three of our Seven Qualities of Exceptional Speakers: Attractive, Confident and Connected. This week, we’ll complete your tour so you can see the final four. Just like you did last week, you‘ll get the most out of this post if you will:

  1. Think of the most exceptional best speaker you’ve ever seen—the one you’ll never forget because of the impact she/he had on you.
  2. Think of another speaker you’ve seen who was skilled at speaking, and even polished in appearance, yet didn’t have the impact of the previous one.
  3. Mentally take yourself back to those two experiences, so the details are fresh in your memory.

As you read through this post, consider each of the remaining qualities by connecting them to the experience you had with each of these speakers.

If you were with us last week, you already know what you’ll get when you do: a more memorable idea of what each quality looks like, feels like and sounds like, as well as a way to measure both experiences so you can use what you discover in your own speaking.

If you missed the previous post, head back here and read it first. This post will make a lot more sense when you do.

The Final Four Qualities

Quality #4: Credible

Credible describes a speaker who clearly knows what she or he is talking about.  More than that, this speaker is skilled at connecting their topic to the interests of this particular audience. As a result, everything they say feels relevant.

In the Q&A portion of the program, the speaker knows how to include the audience in an engaging dialogue which is more like a conductor with an audience than a “talking head.” Here is a speaker who knows of how to position their topic in a way that addresses the audience’s needs and challenges. She or he is also able to identify opportunities for action that this audience will want to take.

Now think about the speaker you identified as unforgettable. How did they embody this quality? What did they do that made you want to listen—and act?

How about the other speaker? What was different?

Quality #5: Engaging

Engaging builds on the first one—Attractive—and takes it to a deeper level. Being attractive is reflected in the way a speaker feels comfortable in his or her own skin. It’s magnetic—it makes you look.

Engaging is the quality that keeps you looking—and listening—as the speaker actively involves the audience in their presentation. Like attractiveness, the way this happens is unique to each speaker. What those speakers have in common is their ability to engage their audience in a form of dialogue that occurs in each moment of their presentation.

Even if the content has been presented before, this active engaging dialogue keeps their content feeling fresh and new to every audience. It keeps them involved in a way that makes time fly.

Think about your exceptional speaker: what did they do that engaged you?

And the other speaker: what was different in their level of engagement?

Quality #6: Flexible

Flexible is reflected in the speaker’s ability to adapt to anything that happens in their presentation. They can easily respond to whatever occurs around them—even an unexpected fire drill—and leave their audience feeling that it was all part of the program. They’re ready to incorporate even the unforeseen into getting their message across in a memorable way.

While they can think on their feet in the face of technical difficulties, they can also make it look like the most interesting opportunity they’ve had all day. Their flexibility offers possibilities for their audience to consider for themselves.

Think back to your exceptional speaker: how did they do this?

And your other speaker: what was different?

Quality #7: Inspirational

Our final quality, Inspirational, is related to the third one—and it takes Connected to an even richer level. Because they’re connected to their audiences in a way that feels authentic and personal, these speakers create the space to be vulnerable. Doing that allows them to share what they’ve learned from the challenges they’ve faced. At the same time, it opens the door for their audiences to learn from those experiences, too.

What makes this quality so powerful is that it leaves the audience with the perception that they are not alone in facing their challenges because the speaker is right there with them. He or she has come out on the other side—and left a path for others to follow.

Take one last look back at your exceptional speaker: how did they do this? How about your other speaker: what was different?

What can you do now?

That’s a wrap on all Seven Essential Qualities of Exceptional Speakers: Attractive, Confident, Connected, Credible, Engaging, Flexible and Inspirational.

Last week, I invited you to head over to the TED Talks website and watch some of the best speakers present their ideas. I asked you to use what you discovered with the first three qualities so you could identify what these speakers are doing that really works. I promised you that among all those effective speakers, you’d find the exceptional ones.

Now that you’ve discovered all seven qualities, revisit the videos you watched last week and see how much richer your experience gets when you can identify them all in one speaker. You’ve seen behind the curtain of what makes some speakers exceptional and you have a map of exactly how they did it. What’s next? Ask yourself what will be different about your speaking as a result.

Next week, I’ll be sharing some news about a new and exciting collaboration that supports all speakers in Cleveland—whether you want to broaden your speaking experience or try it out for the first time. You’ll find out how to get my Powerful Speaking Presence Assessment™, which breaks these 7 qualities down into a handy checklist of behaviors.  And you’ll find an opportunity to use this assessment to create your own TED-like talk, right here in Cleveland in October.

If you enjoyed this article, why not:

  1. Share this with a colleague who would benefit from it
  2. Tune in next week to discover where you can use these qualities if you have them—or join us as an audience member to see them in action.
  3. Let me know about your experiences with great speakers in the comments!

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