The Four Key Characteristics Of Successful Public Speakers

February 22, 2020 by

On the heels of delivering many of my Keynote Speeches, I am often asked what traits make a public speaker successful, which is what inspired this blog.

After extensive research and pondering my 12 years of keynote speaking experiences, here are the four top traits of the most successful public speakers:


1. They exude confidence.

No one wants to see a nervous and emotionally anxious speaker at the front of the room.  Great speakers exhibit a fully confident demeanor and know their topics thoroughly.  This confidence is infectious and translates into the audience fully trusting and believing the speaker.   


2. They know their audience and tailor their presentation accordingly.

Great public speakers fully understand the needs and desires of their audience.  When I coach aspiring speakers about the speech content and delivery, I always reveal the fact that half of the typical audience desires emotional stimulation, while the other half seeks intellectual stimulation.  As such, great public speakers provide storytelling, humor, and sensitive examples to fulfill the former group’s desires.  Conversely, great public speakers proffer the scientific research, often using statistics, to satisfy the latter group’s wishes. 


3. They have a very engaging presentation style.

Great public speakers clearly articulate their words and use voice inflection effectively.  An engaging presentation style includes using voice tone, storytelling, humor, body language, and audience interaction.  In short, they get the audience laughing and crying. 


4. They use customized and engaging presentation software and videos.

Ninety-five percent of public speakers use Powerpoint for their presentations, a very effective presentation software.  But great public speakers take the time to customize the presentation based upon the audience and their desires.  Their videos are colorful, entertaining, and most importantly, not too long.  Long or extended videos tend to distract the audience from what should be the center of attention:  the keynote speaker. 



Kevin Sheridan is an internationally-recognized Keynote Speaker, a New York Times Best Selling Author, and one of the most sought-after voices in the world on the topic of Employee Engagement. For five years running, he has been honored on Inc. Magazine’s top 100 Leadership Speakers in the world, as well as Inc.’s top 100 experts on Employee Engagement. He was also honored to be named to The Employee Engagement Award’s Top 101 Global Influencers on Employee Engagement of 2017.

Having spent thirty years as a high-level Human Capital Management consultant, Kevin has helped some of the world’s largest corporations rebuild a culture that fosters productive engagement, earning him several distinctive awards and honors. Kevin’s premier creation, PEER®, has been consistently recognized as a long-overdue, industry-changing innovation in the field of Employee Engagement. His first book, Building a Magnetic Culture, made six of the best seller lists including The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today. He is also the author of The Virtual Manager, which explores how to most effectively manage remote workers.

Kevin received a Master of Business Administration from the Harvard Business School in 1988, concentrating his degree in Strategy, Human Resources Management, and Organizational Behavior. He is also a serial entrepreneur, having founded and sold three different companies.