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Senior Leader Communication Skills: Studying Justin Baldoni

Updated: Nov 30, 2023

We included Justin Baldoni on our "Best Public Speakers" list because of his humor, use of pauses, storytelling ability, and commanding gestures. Justin Baldoni is an actor, filmmaker, co-founder of the media company Wayfarer Studios, and board secretary of the Wayfarer Foundation -- an organization with the mission to “advance humankind spiritually towards a future peaceful world civilization.”

By Anu Bhatt and Madina Behori

We reviewed Justin Baldoni's 2018 Ted Talk "Why I'm Done Trying to Be 'Man Enough'", where he challenges the audience to redefine masculinity and vulnerability while sharing his own struggles and experiences with breaking the patriarchal mold..

Baldoni's greatest communication skills:

  1. Humor: Baldoni starts his talk by poking fun at the stereotypically masculine acting roles he has played (0:25-1:08). Humor is a creative way to start presentations. Laughs from the audience can release tension for both the speaker and the listener; it can also give the speaker an extra boost of confidence, especially going into a tough topic. In this case, as Baldoni admits, "I've been pretending to be a man that I am not my entire life." (1:40-1:44)

  2. Power of the Pause: Baldoni is masterful at taking a pause. He takes small 1-second pauses after almost every thought and takes longer 3-second pauses right before an important moment. This allows the audience to digest his message in small meaningful bites while creating high-impact and memorable moments. For example, when he says, "I don't just want to be a good man, [pause] I want to be a good human." (3:35-3:41)

  3. Storytelling: Baldoni weaves in personal stories about masculinity while placing it in the larger context of society. He candidly speaks about his "untraditionally masculine" dad (4:28-6:36), being vulnerable with his friends (7:10-7:59), and helping men on social media to embrace their emotions (8:55-10:25). Stories like these are compelling and memorable to the audience.

  4. Commanding Gestures: Baldoni demonstrates a variety of gestures such as the key point (4:57), open palms (2:57-3:00), spiritual steeple (6:50-6:52), and closed fist (17:28). Gestures should emphasize the message, not distract from it. He shows this best when he is able to quiet down the audience with a single finger to his lips (12:25).

Contributing Writers: Anu Bhatt and Madina Behori


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