5 qualities of successful speakers

If you like new experiences, pay attention to details and have thick skin, you’ll thrive as a speaker.

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In the world of psychology, it’s typical to refer to five personality traits to determine most of the differences among our fellow human beings:

1. Openness to experience

2. Conscientiousness

3. Extroversion

4. Agreeableness

5. Neuroticism

If you imagine each of these traits as a continuum and place yourself on it, you’ll quickly get an idea of how you shape up as a human—and as a speaker. This list is useful for the insights it gives us into what makes for a successful public speaker.

1. A speaker should be highly open to experience.

If you’re open to experience, you’re flexible in the face of change and ready to cope with unexpected people and circumstances—which happens at least once a speech.

I once showed up to a speech expecting 100 people. There were 600 in the room, and another 200 very cranky individuals in the overflow room where I was on speakerphone. It was a test of my openness to experience, and I admit it rattled me. I got through it, but not gloriously.

2. A speaker should be highly conscientious.

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