10 public speakers, ranked, that will inspire your speaking style, fast.
Is your goal to become a better public speaker?
It would help if you learned to speak confidently in any setting and environment, including public speaking. You never know when you will need this skill, and if you fail to develop it, you’ll always feel held back as a speaker.
This post will give you some powerful TIPS and inspiration to boost your speaking style.
Speaking Skills can be level up your interpersonal skills - provided you invest in them.
Winging it when you’re speaking and hoping for the best without tactical strategies and self-awareness won’t ever build you up to develop meaningful and rich interactions that change your life.
Speaking skills are a force to be reckoned with, provided you invest in them. Moreover, they can be the catalyst for increased opportunity and career success.
Some simple speaking tools work for everyone, especially in the public sphere, and I can’t wait to share them.
Public Speaking Skills are a requirement for Speaking Confidence.
This blog is best digested in 3 steps.
You might want to bookmark this page to refer back to later – because it could take more than one sitting!
- Check the 10 Public Speakers ranked below
- Sign up for my FREE masterclass – Take your insights further by signing up for my FREE Masterclass: How to Look & Feel Confident at Work, without guessing what it takes.
- Pick up a copy of the Communication Growth Plan for Work and review areas that you can expand to extend your professional speaking style.
- Watch the Vlog: 3 Performance anxiety excuses that don’t cut it according to research– linked here.
Who were the favourite public speakers ranked by over 250 of my public speaking skills clients?
First, I’ll share 10 favourite public speakers, ranked as #1 by over 250 of my public speaking clients.
This is a unique list because the preferences were lodged by people just like you, looking to improve their speaking style.
1. Barack Obama
It probably comes as no surprise, but Barack’s public speaking magnetism outshone everyone on the list considerably!
Here are the qualities that my clients most admired when it comes to Barack Obama’s speaking style:
- his class and eloquence
- his vocabulary
- pause techniques that take the audience into a deep and engaging conversation
- how he can “sell” himself and influence other people
- calm, deliberate speaking rate
- his relatability
Take Action: Consider which aspects of Obama’s delivery style you like the most? Then, if you could integrate one of his incredible skills into your speaking style, which would you choose?
Yes, we can, to opportunity and prosperity. Yes, we can heal this nation. Yes, we can repair this world. Yes, we can.
A memorable moment:
Oprah is not only a household name but the queen of conversational ease!
Here are the core skills my clients admired the most that set Oprah at #2.
- confident but humble delivery
- a respectful and welcoming approach
- the techniques she uses to engage her audience and make them feel included
- the kind of skills that keep a conversation going with a focus on the other person
- a rich voice tone coupled with engaging vocal expression and use of emphasis
- outstanding listening skills
- her ability to speak about issues that are in the minds of people (tactical empathy)
Take Action: Consider which aspects of Oprah’s delivery style you like the most? If you could integrate one of her incredible skills into your speaking style, which would you choose? Notice that people enjoy the way she balances Confidence with humility. This is a great way to stay relatable and make your audience feel empowered. You don’t have to lose your humble origins! Be proud of who you are and the ideas you have to share with the world.
Passion is energy. Feel that power that comes from focusing on something that excites you.
A memorable moment:
3. Michelle Obama
Michelle Obama followed very close to Oprah as favourite speaker number 3 from all my clients surveyed.
- She speaks very confidently without any pause and hesitation. When I listen to her, I feel very motivated and positive
- How she integrates interesting topics and expresses her ideas in a way that any person can understand
- An articulate and calm speaking style
- Her humour
Take Action: Consider which aspects of Michelle’ ‘s speaking style you like the most? If you could integrate one of her incredible skills into your speaking style, which would you choose? Notice that people enjoy the calm and articulate speech pace that she uses. Can you try to practice making your words flow more without hesitation and frequent pauses?
“When somebody walks up to me, don’t look around, don’t look beyond them. Look them in the eye, take in the story.”
4. Simon Sinek
Known for the speech that broke the internet, most of my public speaking consulting sessions over the years have involved some time sharing admiration for Simon Sinek’s speaking style!
My few years of data taking indicated that clients admired the following about his communication:
- His speaking rhythm
- His vocal expression, he’s rarely monotone
- Topic selection skills
- A Positive manner
Take Action: Simon Sinek is a master of topic selection. Not only does he choose topics he’s passionate about, but he also delivers them in a way that you can’t help but feel passionate too. One of the keys to delivering an excellent presentation, keynote or speech is obsessing over your topic. Don’t just choose a good topic; choose an outstanding one or, better still, a timely one that follows industry trends and pain points.
“The cost of leadership is self-interest.”
5. Jordan Peterson
Next up in the line of preference is the public speaker and intellectual Jordan Peterson.
His 3 core speaking traits most favoured by my clients were:
- He brevity
- How concisely he explains complex things in simple words
- His pace and flow
Take action: The best approach is to eliminate jargon and snobbery when discussing complex topics. Despite his extensive qualifications, Jordan Peterson was admired most for message clarity. What elements of your message are dirtying the water? Can you refine your tone to increase clarity and make your ideas not only easier to digest?
“Don’t compare yourself with other people, compare yourself with who you were yesterday.”
6. Tony Robbins
Like a boxer in the ring, Tony Robbins is probably one of the most physically animated speakers to watch from this top list! Clients that admire Tony Robbins seem to be enamoured with the emotional impact of his speaking style.
Here are the top speaking tactics they found most engaging:
- He can penetrate your mind with his words and persuasion
- His conversational style
- Great with words
- Clear expression of his ideas
- He is a talented storyteller- this makes him engaging and inspiring
- His energy level pumps you up
- Strong voice, easy to listen to for hours
Take Action: Positioning your message effectively relies on your social intelligence skills. Tony Robbins is a master of rapport and tactical empathy. When addressing his audience, his language tone focuses on empowering the audience. How can you deliver in a way that serves your listener and makes them feel like the content has been crafted with their needs, not your needs, in mind?
To effectively communicate, we must realise that we are all different in the way we perceive the world and use this understanding as a guide to our communication with others.”
7. Steve Jobs
Over the years, I’ve felt sad and nostalgic to see Steve Jobs sink lower down the top ten list (yes, I regularly check in with the data to see where everyone ranks). Nine years ago, when I was first consulting in this area, my clients constantly cited Steve Jobs as their favourite communicator. I’d get phone queries at least once a week where potential clients would drop Steve Jobs as the public speaker they most emulated.
It’s still remarkable that although he has passed away, his oratory skills remain in our memories.
The data unanimously showed a love of Steve Job’s speaking skills, in particular :
- how good he was at articulating his ideas
- his audience engagement skills
- the straightforward delivery style
- how he made public speaking look easy
“Our work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it.”
8. It could be your boss
This was a huge surprise for me, but pulling rank might be your boss! Many of my clients rated their boss as one of their favourite communicators, which I find very encouraging.
There are 2 kinds of bosses. Those that communicate well and those that well, um, fall short! We’re all human, and it’s hard to give credit where it’s due when someone is your boss. So take a moment to think, is there any speaking skill that your boss masters? If there was one trait you could incorporate into your speaking style that your boss does well, what would it be?
I hope you can find something positive about your current boss. If not, reach further back into the past and find at least one boss you can admire.
9. Brene Brown
Like her latest book, Atlas of the Heart, Brené lays bare her vulnerability with her audience, just as she does in her keynotes.
Here are the favourite qualities my clients listed in voting for Brené as an inspiring public speaker include:
- Her vulnerability, honesty and warmth
- Storytelling skills
- Confident delivery
- Authentic approach
Everyone has a story inside them, but not everyone learns to tell their stories in a way that commands attention. The ability to tell a captivating story is something you can learn and one of the fastest ways to improve content, magnetism and charisma while speaking. Don’t tell a story without implementing proven storytelling techniques because some approaches can fall flat and have the opposite effect of what you desire.
“You’re imperfect, and you’re wired for struggle, but you are worthy of love and belonging .”
10. Carl Sagan
Wowzers, here’s where I’m utterly rapt with my clients. The fact that Carl Sagan made the list makes me pinch myself! One of my earliest memories of watching TV as a kid features Carl Sagan. My family had no television at home, so while visiting a friend’s place to watch the Sarajevo Olympics, I caught a glimpse of a Carl Sagan episode. As a kid looking at the sky, my imagination was never the same again. I was enthralled and captivated. When I discovered him later in life, I immediately recalled that early childhood memory of this incredibly gifted orator.
Carl Sagan is an excellent example of a public speaker who could talk about the most academic and complex topics in an enthralling way.
Here are the top traits he was admired for:
- Voice tone
- Body language
- The way he structured the information to make you want to hear more of what he had to say
“The brain is like a muscle. When it is in use, we feel very good. Understanding is joyous.”
I’m not going to give away who my favourite public speakers are because that was not the point of this blog. Instead, I thought it much better to share a cross-sectional ranking from over 250 people looking for just what you might be looking for elite speaking skills.
Did you see any names that you agree with? Who’s missing from the list?
🎤 Does Your Speaking Style Need Work?
Everyone can improve their oration skills and pick up coping strategies for performance anxiety when it comes to public speaking.
Dealing with important presentations doesn’t have to feel impossible.
The majority of your comfort, confidence and success will all come down to your communication agility.
We spend so much of our life receiving a good education and fine-tuning our expertise but imagine if we dedicated the same level of attention to building out our communication skills.
Want to learn more career skills to amplify your success? The C-Suite is here, join the waitlist to enrol here.
If you’d like to get more tools for your career based communication as well as ideas that are applicable to improve as a public speaker, make sure you sign up for my FREE MASTERCLASS
About the Author
Sara Geiger is a Keynote Speaker, Executive Speaking Coach, and Opera Singer who likes to play with words, sounds, and your impact.
Her academic background is in Music Performance, Communication Science and Speech & Language Pathology. She’s currently completing a PhD in Opera Performance.
Connect with Sara on LinkedIn.
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