What Separates the Good Public Speakers from the Great?

Would you have thought that it is listening?


It is.


The pivotal point when public speakers move from good to great is when they listen to their audience and understand what they (the audience) need to hear.

This sounds counter intuitive doesn’t it? Our natural tendency is to share what we know (often cramming in far too much). Of course your vision and insight  is what you will be sharing but the secret is in how you will do it. How you share your ideas so they resonate so deeply with your audience they become your rabble rousing cheering section.

It’s done through thoughtful and strategic listening.

Gary Vaynerchuk spoke in Vancouver at the Financial Post’s Reach 2012 event this past week. He listens. Gary shared the secret to his success, “I’m always thinking from the customer perspective”.  Sounds easy doesn’t it? It’s not — it takes time and introspection.

Gary is where his customers are. He finds them on social media and he travels internationally to speak with them. Yes, I said speak “with”. Gary is a master at getting down on the floor and speaking with his audience and creating lively discussion. This is the  mark of a great public speaker — one who really listens to the questions and responses. He looks into individuals audience members eyes and “hears” what they are saying.

Listen at the 4:40 mark of Gary’s interview with Entrepreneur. He shares with us how many emails and tweets he responds to in comparison to what he blasts out. The skew is heavily weighted on the listening and discussion side. For example:

response to my tweet at #FPReach2012

response to my tweet at #FPReach2012









Not only does he listen while he is presenting, he is listening before and after his presentations. And he engages.

Gary also talks about the importance of story. A subject that has been batted about many times in this blog. But no story can be built or told until you know what your audience wants to hear.




Listen to your audience before you even begin to think of putting pen to paper or start creating your storyboard for your next presentation. That’s how you will create cheerleaders, fans, and customers who will in turn listen and engage with you.

To Your Voice,






I help build confident voices so they’re heard.

Janice Tomich is the founder of Calculated Presentations, a company dedicated to bringing out speaker’s stories to influence change. Janice coaches professionals, entrepreneurs, TED and TEDx speakers. She is a champion for equal representation by a diverse pool of presenters for all speaking events. Follow Janice on Twitter @janicetomich, on Facebook, on LinkedIn and subscribe for bimonthly newsletter updates.

Be bold. Get heard. Inspire action.