What Makes A Magnetic Speaker?

What makes magnetic speaker? How does someone draw an audience in, get them to not only
listen, but to buy in, act, and take action? If you Google these questions there are pages, and
pages of answers – most written by white dudes who want to be Tony Robbins. There are also
lots of results if you Google “greatest speakers of all time.” Again, mostly (dead) white guys–
and occasionally Tony Robbins.
But what is it that really makes a speaker engaging? Where does their power lie and what can
you learn from them to personally be a better speaker?
My favorite professor always said it was about charisma. However, I think that’s more if you
want to start a cult. Despite that, in my experiences I have learned that there are several
important traits utilized by engaging speakers. The first is to know the power of speech.
Knowing how to take words off the page and give them voice, brings life to them like nothing
else can. It doesn’t matter if one is a high school debate student or a presidential candidate, a
person who realizes the weight of speech will be better equipped to make an impact on an
Secondly, you cannot affect your audience unless your subject matter has touched you in some
way. You need a personal connection with your topic in order for your speech to deliver it
effectively. Does that mean that you can only deliver a compelling speech if you are talking
about a squirrel that saved you from a burning building? No, (though I would LOVE to hear that
one), it means that what you are saying is vital to you, and should be essential to your listeners.
Additionally, inclusion of personal connections to your topic will make your speech more
relatable. The more ingenuity you use to showcase these associations, the more your audience
will remember them. Creativity helps you make an impact.
Think about it. How many speeches have you heard? Which ones stand out? The ones where
the speaker did something different. I’m not talking novel. I’m not saying to pull out puppets or
handle a human brain (both things I have seen done in presentations), but simply an idea that is
new, or perhaps, unexpected. Look at your topic in a different way and see what comes to light.
That is what you should share with your audience.
There cannot be a great speech without a call to action. Kennedy asked people to ponder what
they could do for their country. King wanted people to fight for equality. Steinem wanted
women to see equality as a revolution. You cannot be a dynamic speaker if you leave your
audience thinking “So what do I do next? Lunch?” You need to be persuasive. Before you even
put pen to paper think about what you want people to do once they leave the room. Work from
The final trait of any excellent speaker may be the hardest to cultivate. You need to be
resilient. If you have an important message that you feel necessary to share with the world,
then one misstep or bad audience should not deter you. Learn how to pivot when you are not
getting the response you want, and how to bring an audience back when you have seemingly
lost them. It takes adaptability, practice, intrepidness, and patience, but you can be a great

speaker. You can make people listen and act. You don’t even have to be a white dude (and
especially not Tony Robbins). You know what to do.