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Best Public Speakers: Studying Hoda Kotb's Communication Skills

Updated: Dec 4, 2023

We included Hoda Kotb on our "Best Public Speakers" list because of her engaging storytelling and connection to the audience. Hoda Kotb is a broadcast journalist and news anchor, best known as the co-host of the fourth hour of NBC's Today Show (since 2007). She has also been a "Dateline NBC" correspondent since April 1998 and the host of the weekly syndicated series "Your Total Health" since September 2004. She is the recipient of multiple awards, including a Peabody.

By Anu Bhatt

We reviewed Hoda Kotb's speech at the Library of Congress' 2011 National Book Festival, where she discusses key takeaways and life lessons from her distinguished career. She emphasizes embracing failure, rejecting fear, and sharing vulnerability.

Kotb's main communication takeaways:

  • Storytelling: Kotb is a master at storytelling. She immediately engages the audience with down-to-earth, simple language along with humorous, relatable experiences from her personal and professional life. She reenacts the characters, making the audience feel included in the journey.

  • Bigger Picture: Her stories include key takeaways so that the audience can understand them as part of a bigger picture. For instance, Kotb reminds the audience that, "you only need one [person] to believe in you"(12:18). The audience can relate not just to the specificity of her experience but the universality of her life lessons.

  • Connection: Kotb makes eye contact with the audience and wears a warm, cheerful smile. You can hear the audience laughing along with her throughout her speech.

What Kotb could do to improve her communication skills:

  • Fast Pace: Kotb comes in with a lot of energy which causes her to have a fast pace. Although energy is good, a fast pace can make the audience feel rushed and unable to grasp the message. In the beginning, she could pause more in between thoughts to help the audience adjust to her style and energy.

  • Filler Words: She has a few filler words such as "um's" and "uh's" that can distract from her message. This could be an attempt to balance a memorized speech with her down-to-earth personality. However, she could still achieve this while eliminating the fillers.

  • Inclusive Language: There are one or two anecdotes which appear dismissive or make fun of others (13:35). In today's day and age, we want to prioritize inclusive language. Check out this video to learn more.


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