Speaking Mastery - what does it look like?

Perhaps you have noticed that speakers range from awful to amazing. And then there are the speakers who are masters. How would you know if you are listening to a speaking master? I wondered and I asked some of those who I consider to be speaking masters.

I spoke with professional speaking colleagues. Collectively these four represent about 90 years in the business of professional speaking. They are all members of CAPS, the Canadian Association of Professional Speakers. Their styles, as speakers, are as different as their responses to my question. And you will notice some common elements. Enjoy their comments.

How do you recognize mastery in speakers?

“A natural, easy style – especially the ease of doing difficult things without breaking a sweat. They clearly enjoy themselves and exude confidence. Their delivery is free-flowing, like a maestro.”
Jim Beaubien, Ph.D., CSP, HoF

“I know I am looking at it when I am not aware of it unless I am looking for it. With master speakers, you have to really look at what they do with pacing and pausing to see the technique. In our business, as with most others, it takes a certain level of competence to even recognize it. One surgeon could watch another take out an appendix and say, ‘Wow, that was masterful’, but you or I would probably not recognize the level of mastery.”
Warren Evans, CSP, HoF

“There is flow – integrated, flawless and seamless. No matter what they are doing, they demonstrate the pinnacle of the craft. My sister the dentist told me that when she started she knew what she was doing, but it took s-o-o-o long; now it flows.”
Linda Tarrant, CSP, HoF

“By their level of confidence and engagement. They are there for the audience, not for themselves. You sense mastery emotionally and intellectually more that through the other senses. True mastery even touches you from a spiritual perspective. I have heard very good speakers who did not touch me.”
Larry Pearson, CSP

George Torok
Speech Coach for Executives
CAPS Former National Board Member

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