Exceptional Speakers Have 7 Characteristics In Common


Exceptional speakers are suprisingly difficult to find in many organisations today.

You will know them when you see them because they have a great deal in common.

Below are 7 characteristics that we believe exceptional presenters have in common.

1. Courage

It’s perceived as risky business standing in front of any audience.

We can never be certain they will like us, agree with us or even believe what it is we have to say.

We should give credit to anyone who has the courage to stand and speak. That said, it’s not enough to simply stand and tell your story, it takes even greater courage to dare to be different, take people on a journey and help them to feel something.

Exceptional speakers are courageous 

They challenge the status quo, admonish mediocrity and do whatever it takes to engage and inspire their audience.

Courage is a mental and emotional muscle which needs to be exercised if we are to truly enjoy it’s benefits.

The route to courage is:

– Trusting that if you step into the fear with faith and frequency, the fear will pass

– Focusing with absolute clarity on what you want and why you want it

– A little less procrastination and a lot more action

– Believing in what you know and the difference it will make sharing that knowledge

– Not doing what you always do; trying new things in every area of life

2. Presence

Have you ever met someone for the first time and at the end of your exchange you said to yourself or others, ‘that person has real presence’?

If you have then you’ll know what I mean.

You’ll also know that it’s not so easy to explain.

At Mindful Presenter we believe that presence lies in the speaker being in the room with their audience. Not simply in their heads.

Exceptional speakers know how to breathe, focus and give the whole of themselves to their audience.

They command the space they have

Consciously seeking to have a conversation rather than tell people things.

They arrive at least an hour early before they speak and take a good few minutes to just be in the room.

Exceptionals speaker take time to just stand there and become a part of the room before their audience arrives.

The route to presence is:

– Spending a few minutes each day sitting in silence, breathing and becoming aware of your thoughts

– Slowing down and noticing; the taste of your food, how you feel and the world around you

– Being with someone in a conversation; that means listening and not waiting to speak

– Doing one thing at a time with your full awareness and attention

– Doing less, not more

If you don’t know how to be with yourself first, its unlikely you will be fully present with your audience when it counts the most.

3. Humility

Exceptional speakers care far more about their audience than they do themselves.

They take their message seriously but don’t take themselves too seriously.

In our training workshops we often see two different extremes in presenting.

Firstly, we see the nervous presenter who struggles to communicate effectively because their anxiety gets the better of them.

We also see the presenter  focused on bravado, self- promotion, how much they know and how hard they’ve worked.

Audiences don’t want to see either of those

Your audience wants to see and hear someone who:

– Values and respect them as an auidence

– Cares deeply about their message as the speaker

– Genuinely wants to make a difference to the lives of their audience

The route to humility is:

– Not being afraid to let your audience into your world by being yourself and opening up to them

– Being prepared to let them know that you don’t have all the answers and asking for help

– Taking responsibility rather than blaming others

– Putting them first

– Leaving your ego at the door

4. Emotional Intelligence

Exceptional speakers have a high degree of emotional intelligence.

They are aware of the impact they have on themselves and other people each time they speak. Exceptional speakers know exactly where their strengths are and they play to those strengths.

At the same time, they are always trying to understand and correct their weaknesses and find other opportunities to connect with their audience authentically.

Exceptional speakers take the time to step back to understand exactly what it is that drives both themselves and their audience.

The route to emotional intelligence is:

– Managing our own negative emotions; being aware of how we feel and changing our thoughts as appropriate

– Being able to express how we feel in a constructive way when we need to

– Staying calm and collected when under stress and knowing how to handle stressful situations

– Knowing how our behaviour affects others

– Choosing to respond rather than instinctively react

– Having the ability to understand and manage others emotions as well as our own

5. Creativity

Far too many presenters read their slides. 

Exceptional speakers don’t only present the facts, data and logic. 

They know that the spoken word elicits a far greater effect than the written.

Creativity is the key to success

Exceptional speakers tell them stories.

They engage their audiences right brain as well as their left.  

People like surprises, suspense and drama. They enjoy good humour and love metaphors. 

The route to creativity is:

– Creating the best environment to allow it to come through; how, where and when do you get your best ideas?

– Doing things you’ve never done before and breaking your own habitual patterns

– Questioning everything; although start by asking some new questions

– Being open to everything and closed to nothing

– Surrounding yourself with creativity; people, books, places and anything that stretches your thinking

6. Generosity

The exceptional speakers are generous to a fault.

They give everything to their audience including







The route to generosity is:

– Making a list of things you are grateful for and focusing on it regularly

– Spending time with generous people; people who know how to give more than money

– Making it personal by understanding the impact and difference you can make

– Believing that the world may not be perfect but that you can help make it a better place

7. Value

Exceptional speakers focus on value.

Why would any presenter take an audience’s precious time to address them, unless they had something to say of significant value to them?

One of the greatest mistakes presenters make is believing that their job is to simply impart knowledge or information.

You will never see such a thing on the exceptional speakers agenda.

Exceptional speaker focus on how they can help and make a tangible difference to their audience.

The route to adding value is:

– Setting the intention to do so as your first priority

– Defining exactly what that value looks and feels like

– Crafting everything you say and do with that intention at the forefront of your mind

What value do you add each time you speak?

If you’d like to become one of those exceptional speakers:

– 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 flickr.com

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  • Randy Fisher
    Posted on 2nd November 2016 at 12:30 pm

    Really great insight. It takes great courage to be fully present and humble.

    • Maurice Decastro
      Posted on 3rd November 2016 at 10:54 am

      Thank you Randy, it definitely does.


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