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Best Public Speakers Series: Studying Stuart McClure

Stuart McClure is the founder and CEO of Cylance, a software firm that develops antivirus programs and other kinds of computer software. Cylance has been described as "the first company to apply artificial intelligence, algorithms, and machine learning to cyber security. In 2019, the company was acquired by BlackBerry. McClure is also the author of Hacking Exposed, reportedly the best-selling IT security book to date.


We identified Stuart as one of the best public speakers because of his strong vocal variety and his ability to break down complex concepts into simpler terms. He maintains great visual presence on camera and structures his thoughts effectively.


We reviewed his interview on CXOTalk on Cybersecurity


Stuart's greatest public speaking skills:


  1. Stuart speaks with excellent vocal variety to emphasize his points. He maintains a strong tone from start to finish which makes it easy for the audience to listen and connect to his message. Stuart intentionally adds stress to his statements to make his communication impactful, especially when he says "Volume is one of the big changes this year".

  2. His eye contact and facial expressions are deliberate and create connection. Most of the time, Stuart is able to lock and hold his eye contact with the camera to connect with the person interviewing him (virtually). He uses his facial expressions to highlight importance of the message he is speaking about. Stuart also maintains great visual presence by sitting up tall and rounding his shoulders back.

  3. Stuart speaks with structure, especially when simplifying complex terms to his audience. The topics Stuart talks about are complex, but he is able to simplify them with the word choice he uses and the structure he presents his message with. For example, he says: "There are two ways to solve this: 1...., 2....". When discussing Artificial Intelligence, he also says: "I call that AI vs. AI", instead of just saying Adversarial AI, which is a more complex concept.


What Stuart could do to improve his public speaking skills:


  1. Use less fillers and qualifying words. Stuart frequently uses the words "so", "you know", and "actually" which diminishes the strength of his message. Eliminating these words makes a speaker sound more assertive on the topic they are speaking about.

  2. Maintain stronger and more deliberate eye contact. During this interview, there were several moments where Stuart scanned up, down, and to the side with his eyes while he was thinking of the next thing he wanted to say. This makes it seem like he isn't as prepared or confident as he would be if he maintained eye contact at eye level.

  3. More gestures - show his hands. Stuart kept his hands down most of the time during the virtual interview. If he were to add gestures to his responses, that would create a more interesting and engaging experience for the listeners. It would also help to make his message more memorable. It's very important to show your hands in the screen when you are communicating through a virtual platform.


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