6 Common Traits of Brilliant Leaders & Exceptional Presenters

man presenting to a group of people seated

Brilliant leaders and exceptional presenters have a great deal more in common than many people imagine.

Some people may not associate strong leadership with effective presentation skills and vice versa.

It is generally unwise to separate the two skills

It’s worth making the distinction at this point that there are leaders and presenters.

There are also brilliant leaders and exceptional presenters

This article sets out some of the similarities between the latter groups.

The debate continues as to whether a brilliant leader needs to be an exceptional presenter.

Regardless, here are 6 common traits among them.

1. Exceptional presenters seek feedback

Open and honest feedback is undoubtedly one of the greatest gifts a leader or presenter could receive to help them to perform more effectively.

Despite that fact, how many are asked to give it?

Let’s be generous for a moment and assume that in leadership it happens occasionally. Do you believe it’s given with complete honesty?

For presenters it also takes a great deal of courage for their audience to be totally honest with them in terms of their performance.

Leaders share a similar challenge

How do brilliant leaders and excceptional presenters overcome this challenge?

They both:

– Actively ask for feedback

– Listen very carefully to the responses

– Act on what they hear and ask for feedback again

2. Exceptional presenters know more than you think

It’s hard to think of anything much worse than a leader or presenter who doesn’t have the required level of knowledge and competence to lead a team or speak to a group.

However, knowledge is about far more than what you may know on a technical level.

What knowledge do brilliant leaders and exceptional presenters really need?

Emotional intelligence

For me, this is just a fancy way of saying being ‘self-aware’.

It means having the knowledge of who you really are in terms of your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and challenges.

It also means doing whatever it takes to have a similar level of knowledge about the team you are leading or the audience you are speaking to.

Emotional intelligence refers to the ability to identify and manage one’s own emotions, as well as the emotions of others.’


Have you every endured a presentation where it was evident that the speaker didn’t know what they were talking about?

Worse still have you ever worked with a leader who didn’t have their facts straight?

Brilliant leaders and exceptional presenters do their homework.

They get all of the facts, data and information they need to lead effectively and present with impact.

They leave nothing to, ‘chance’.


I believe that what you know matters far less than how you make others feel about what you know.

Brilliant leaders and exceptional presenters don’t simply deliver and act on the facts;.

They inspire and move people to action by helping them to feel something emotionally too.

To them ‘connecting is everything’.

The future

One of the greatest leadership and speaker talents is the ability to help people to see the future.

That is exactly where brilliant leaders and exceptional presenters invest their time and focus.

3.  Exceptional presenters keep things simple

Complicated frameworks, complex processes and jargon are highly effective tools for confusing people .

A great number of organisations speak openly about their desire to ‘keep things simple’. Very few seem to be able to manage to do so.

Brilliant leaders and exceptional presenters keep things simple.

They achieve this by:

– Getting to the point quickly.

– Being mindful that if their grandmother won’t understand, it’s likely their team or audience won’t either.

– Focusing on doing everything they possibly can to help their team and audience to focus as well.

– Asking themselves why – Why should my team or audience care?

4. Exceptional presenters respect everyone

It has often been suggested that people don’t leave their jobs; they ‘leave their boss’.

Every day in organisations across the entire world there are people returning home from an exhausting day’s work feeling depleted, disrespected, ignored and sometimes even mistreated.

That’s nothing to do with the ‘job’ and everything to do with the ‘leader’

By the same token, people across the globe are attending and enduring presentations which could have been made in a fraction of the time with a great deal more value, purpose and impact.

How do brilliant leaders and exceptional presenters overcome this challenge?

They have the utmost respect for those they are working with

As you may imagine, there is no convoluted magic or science behind this trait.

It rests simply on a universal principle of humanity, which is that essentially we are all the same.

The brilliant leader and exceptional presenter begin and end each day at work with that universal principle of respect at the top of their to do list.

It remains their highest priority each day and is never crossed off.

5.  Exceptional presenters start with themselves

If anyone ever dares to tell you that being either a brilliant leader or exceptional presenter is an easy task you may be quite clear that they have attempted neither role themselves.

If they have they are quite disillusioned.

Given the demanding and complex nature or both roles, perhaps it all begins with ‘courage’.

Where does the brilliant leader and exceptional presenter start?

With themselves by taking a long hard look at themselves every day. They switch off their ‘autopilot’ and take the time and courage to really get to know themselves.

They have the courage to ask themselves:

– What really gets me out of bed every morning?

– How honest am I?

– What makes me anxious, uncomfortable or angry?

– How patient am I?

– What are my strengths and weaknesses?

– How do I really see my team / audience?

– How do they see me?

– What difference can I really make to others; why and how?

6.  Exceptional presenters are always in the room

In former executive roles, I recall entering my CEO’s office to get some urgent advice or support on a significant issue.  Whilst speaking, he continued his work directly facing his computer, giving little, if any response at all until coaxed to do so.

For me, it was more than a lack of respect

It was though he wasn’t even in the room with me. He wasn’t fully present at a time when I needed him to be.

Sometimes, you will find that presenters may be in the room with you physically but they are not totally present either.

Exceptional presenters and brilliant leaders are always in the room

They know how to be fully in the room because they adopt and practice 3 key habits:


They understand and believe that regardless of their position, salary, or whoever is holding the microphone, no one is more important than the other.

Whether you’re the leader or speaker you are there to serve, to value and make a difference to the lives of others.


Is by far the most important quality for any leader, speaker or indeed anyone in a position of responsibility.

You can have the best vision, strategy or message in the world but if your team or audience don’t trust you, then you will never get very far.


Whether you are a leader or a presenter you will be judged on your results.

The brilliant leaders and exceptional presenters understand that,’patience is a virtue’.

They know how to put themselves in their team’s and audience’s ‘shoes’. They listen carefully to them and they take them with them.

Whether you are leading, presenting or both, mindfulness isn’t about sitting in a corner quietly meditating, although that is immensely helpful for a few minutes each day.

Brilliant leaders and exceptional presenters develop a  high level of consciousness and self-awareness.

They achieve that by:

– Seeking feedback

– Knowing more than others think you know

– Keeping things simple

– Respecting everyone

– Starting with yourself

– Being in the room

The most powerful route to developing these traits is mindfulness

Spend some time at the beginning and end of each day in the quiet of your own mind focusing on your own breath, as reflect on  just how mindful you are while leading or presenting.

If you’d to learn more about exceptional presenters:

– Book yourself onto a powerful public speaking course.

– Invest in some really good one to one public speaking coaching.

– Get yourself some excellent presentation training

Image courtesy of: Wavebreakmedia Ltd | Dreamstime.com



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