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Public Speaker Duties and Responsibilities

No two public speakers are exactly alike, as specific skills vary from employer and topic. However, after analyzing online job postings, we identified several core duties and responsibilities common to the job:

Perform Pre-Speech Research Successful public speakers complete in-depth research before making a presentation. They research their topic to make sure they are well informed. Public speakers also learn about their audience in order to present in a personalized and relevant way. Their research helps them decide what to say and how to present in a valuable and practical way.

Write and Outline Speeches Public speakers spend their time creating a speech that educates and motivates a crowd. They make sure that all talking points are sharp and concise. The most successful public speakers outline speeches that are engaging, informative, and persuasive.

Rehearse Speeches Practicing speeches prior to delivering them live is critical for public speakers. They prepare and rehearse to make their presentations more effective. Public speakers use rehearsals to simplify their message, and find new ways to engage their audience through stories, analogies, and other interplay activities. Their goal is to motivate their audience to act on the information they provide.

Give Public Presentations Pubic speakers are essentially hired to deliver live presentations and seminars. Their talks must hold audience attention and encourage participation to be successful. A public speaker may talk to small groups of 10 or large groups of 10,000. Some presentations have a training and development component while others are more inspirational.

Interacting With Audience Members Public speakers, especially those that work in a training capacity, are usually expected to interact with audience members after their speeches. Through these conversations, they gain speech feedback, which they incorporate into future presentations. They also answer individual questions from audience members. Some more well-known public speakers also provide autographed memorabilia and products after their speech.


Public Speaker Skills and Qualifications

Public speakers should be able to communicate in friendly, poised, and persuasive way. Employers typically look for candidates with at least six months of public speaking, entertainment, or teaching experience. The following skills are essential for getting the job done:
  • Clear articulation - public speakers must be able to speak loudly, clearly, concisely without distracting verbal fillers and rambling sentences
  • Good body language - great public speakers use vocal tone, facial expression, body language, and timing to communicate their points. Persuasive use of body language accents words and transforms presentations from boring to interesting and engaging
  • Sales skills - specific industries hire public speakers to generate sales and add allure and interest to products and services
  • Teaching skills - some public speakers work as corporate trainers that use adult learning principles to create educational presentations that are easy to understand
  • Memorization - many corporately sponsored public speakers are given specific information that they must memorize and integrate within their presentations
  • Audience assessment skills - successful public speakers evaluate their audience regularly and adopt their presentation content to crowd receptiveness and characteristics
  • Interpersonal skills - public speakers interact with people continually and need a positive demeanor and relationship skills to be effective at their job

Public Speaker Education and Training

There are no minimum educational requirements to become a public speaker; however, a communications degree program or public speaking class can help build relevant skills that are attractive to employers. Candidates should also have verifiable public speaking experience. Securing an accreditation from a professional speaking association can help build credibility with decision makers that hire speakers.

Public Speaker Salary and Outlook

According to PayScale, the median annual salary for public speakers is $82,000. The lowest ten percent of speakers make less than $12,000 per year. The highest ten percent of speakers earn more than $130,000. Annual salaries earned by public speakers vary greatly according to specialization, speech topic, and employer. Some speakers earn a commission for each talk they give, which can substantially add to their earnings. Others sell their own products or are paid on a per speech basis.

Helpful Resources

We searched the web for the best industry resources to help you continue exploring a career as a public speaker. Here are more ways to learn whether becoming one is right for you.

National Speaking Association (NSA) - a leading organization for professional speakers that offers certification, industry training, and resources for aspiring and current public speakers

Toastmasters International - a supportive learning environment to grow your public speaking skills and achieve your goals, Toastmasters features local meetups, speech contests, and more

Talk Like TED: The 9 Public-Speaking Secrets of the World's Top Minds - improve your public speaking with this book from speech coach and bestselling author Carmine Gallo, featuring nine essential tips for successful presentations

The Public Speaker's Guide to Ace Your Interview: 6 Steps to Get the Job You Want - learn how to answer common interview questions with expert advice from a top public speaker

Public Speakers Association - learn how to market yourself as a speaker, find new clients, and create extra income

The 6-Figure Speaker: The Ultimate Blueprint to Build a Business as a Highly-Paid Professional Speaker - a must-read for anyone who wants to create a successful speaking career from speaking master Brian Tracy. You'll get all the tips, tricks, strategies, and secrets you need to become a public speaking success

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