4 Characteristics of Captivating Speakers

Have you ever found yourself so captivated by a storyteller—you were completely drawn in and forgot where you were for the moment? Every event can benefit from helping presenters speak in a strong and engaging manner. An engaging speaker draws from these four characteristics:
  1. Self-Awareness and Introspection
  2. Rhythm (iambic pentameter, if you will)
  3. Empathy
  4. Confidence and Preparedness
Self-Awareness and Introspection Abraham_Lincoln_November_1863When it comes to phenomenal speakers like Abraham Lincoln or Martin Luther King, Jr., such speakers possess a humbleness and willingness to turn inward – to check in with their own feelings and emotions and reason why such a feeling would be occurring. What are your interpersonal strengths? How do you make friends? What communication skills do you need to work on? If you can determine your strengths and weaknesses, you can admit them as a way to relate and connect with your audience. Appearing vulnerable to your audience builds authenticity and trust. Consider adding a moment of self-reflection in your next speech. Rhythm Iambic pentameter: a commonly used type of metrical line in traditional English poetry and verse drama. The term describes the rhythm that the words establish in that line, which is measured in small groups of syllables called "feet." A good story could be considered poetry. It’s rhythmic, compelling, soothing. The optimum rate of speech is generally in the range of 120 and 150 words per minute. (A good exercise? Set a timer for one minute and read your speech aloud. How far did you get? Count the words.) Finding the right rate of speech can be difficult. Speaking too quickly is a common speech problem – –perhaps because almost everyone tends to speed up their rate when under pressure or when uncomfortable. The trick is to be conscious of your rate of speech. If you can remember to speak at a rate that allows listeners to understand what you’’re saying, you’re golden. Empathy This psychological identifier helps us better understand the needs of those around us—and, therefore, win the hearts of our audiences. If you can decipher nonverbals and predict the reactions people listening to your story, you will experience far fewer interpersonal conflicts and, moreover, effectively motivate people. Remember that 90% of communication is nonverbal. Communicate honestly and mirror the audience’s energy. Give eye contact. Open your arms. Keep your palms open. Hold your shoulders back. Smile. Soften the eyes. Don’t point. Those are some best practices for nonverbals. Verbal indicators for good speakers are a moderate rate of speech, an appropriate volume and a warm tone of voice. All of these practices help to display empathy and build connection with the audience. Confidence and Preparedness Speakers that can captivate the attention of any group are always prepared and have rehearsed in advance. Be sure to practice aloud multiple times so you’re comfortable with the material. Speakers who are well acquainted with their material can more naturally incorporate nonverbals—drawing their live audiences in even more. Be careful to not sound like a well-rehearsed robot by giving yourself short sections where you can pick the wording on the fly. This could be a story from the past or an anecdote about your planning. Remember: Listeners are rooting for you. They want a great presentation and want the speaker to succeed. If you stumble, move forward, most in the audience won't even remember that you were tripped up. Exceptional public speaking is not easy. By developing these four characteristics of strong speakers, you will effectively improve your communication style and enchant listeners anywhere. Interested in planning an event? Contact us by filling out the form below.