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Best Public Speakers: Carla Harris

Best public speakers | great speakers | great public speakers

We included Carla Harris on our "Best Public Speakers" list because of her vocal presence, clear articulation of insights, and storylining ability.

At Morgan Stanley, Carla Harris is responsible for improving access to capital for female and multicultural founders, as well as increasing client connectivity to enhance revenue generation. We reviewed Harris' Ted Talk "How to find the person who can help you get ahead at work," where she breaks the myth of meritocracy and puts forth the idea that people get ahead and recommended based on those who are representing them.

Her Communication Strengths:

1. Directness. Harris never talks around a subject. Instead she goes directly into a subject, taking her audience into the real matters at hand. In this particular instance, she clearly states how people treat each other in an environment that is less than savory. She never tries to gloss it over.

2. Vocal Variety. Harris has a way of using all aspects of her voice to take her listeners through the story. She has a way of shifting up the tone of her voice when she moves from one subject to another. She also uses cadences--moments when her voice drops done in pitch--to send the message to the audience that she has come to the completion of a thought or idea.

3. Physicality. Harris has a way of holding her body upright, projecting a high status. She is also loose and relaxed. Her movements, whether expressed through steps or gestures, are never tense. This style helps the audience relax, knowing their speaker is under control.

4. Enthusiasm. Harris has a way of energizing each moment of her story. We always get the feeling that she is bringing herself fully to the talk, and communicates her excitement about what she has discovered in her field.

How She Could Improve:

1. Less Movement. Although Harris uses a variety of gestures, she is in constant motion. She could find more opportunities to be still when emphasizing a point or telling an emotional part in a story. This allows the audience to focus on key moments in her presentation.

2. Less Redundancy. Repetition used strategically can be a good idea. There are times when Harris makes a point, and then makes the same point in a different language unnecessarily. Her ideas are strong enough to state once. When you have a power sentence, make sure you add a good 3 second pause after it.

By David Prete


Developing communication skills is easy when you work with Speak by Design. We work with clients from around the world to help them master the art of public speaking and strengthen their presentation skills. We work with individuals, groups, and entire organizations. Your voice is powerful...if you know how to use it. Contact us today to learn more.


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