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Best Public Speakers: Studying Sir Ken Robinson

Updated: Apr 4

Sir Ken Robinson was a British author, speaker and international advisor on education for the government and non-profit organizations. We selected Ken as one of the best public speakers for his poise, his humor and storytelling, and his captivating use of inflection. Ken skillfully incorporates humor throughout his presentation and adds gravitas with his vocal tone and style.

by Stephanie Bickel

best public speakers

The public speaking engagement we reviewed: TED talk on why schools kill creativity.

Ken's greatest public speaking skills:

  1. Physical poise: Ken maintains a still frame and holds direct eye contact with all of his listeners. This demonstrates he is comfortable in front of the audience. (:00)

  2. Strong Start: He opens up his presentation by talking about themes that have emerged from the conference. He shows how they are relevant to his talk on education. This is a nice way to tie all of the elements together. (:22)

  3. Incorporates humor and storytelling: Ken finds ways to interject humor into the subject of education and the various elements of his talk. This helps keep the energy level high in the audience and makes his presentation more dynamic. (1:00, 3:08, 3:24, 4:33, 13:43)

  4. Emphatic: He emphasizes keywords and numbers to draw attention to what is important. (2:00)

  5. Nice pace and vocal tone: Ken delivers the information in a very thoughtful and caring way. This style adds gravitas to the topic. (throughout)

What Ken could do to improve his public speaking skills:

  1. Posture: Ken leans back from the waist up and has his head is forward. As a public speaker, this posture makes him look slightly weaker. To create a large, confident presence in front of a room, you should be able to draw a straight line from the tip of your ear, to the top of your shoulder, to the top of your hip, to the back of your knee, to the front of your ankle. (:00)

  2. Gestures: Body language is important as a public speaker. He becomes relaxed when he puts his hand in his pocket. When resetting to a neutral position while standing, your hands should be down at your side. This strategy keeps you open to your audience. (1:40)


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