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Best Public Speakers: Studying Stacey Cunningham

Updated: Dec 4, 2023

We included Stacey Cunningham on our Best Public Speakers list because of her strong vocal presence when speaking and confidence in the way she responds to questions. Stacey is a banker, and the 67th president of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE). She is the second female president of the NYSE, but the first to hold full leadership of the exchange.

by Stephanie Bickel

We reviewed her best public speakers interview with CNBC on the future of the market.

Stacey’s greatest public speaking skills:

  1. Strong vocal tone and presence: Stacey does a nice job holding everyone's attention in the room by speaking with vocal variety. She uses stress to highlight important points she wants the audience to remember. Stacey also plays around with pacing and pausing for impact.

  2. Great use of impactful gestures to match her verbal output. Stacey shows us how memorable her messages are by using her hands to match her statements.

  3. Warm and inviting facial expressions. Stacey has an excellent smile throughout the interview which makes it easy for her to create a connection with others. Even when asked difficult questions, her warmth and personality shows through. You can tell that she is authentic and transparent.

  4. Active listening skills: When asked questions, Stacey practiced active listening skills both non-verbally (head nod) and verbally. She did this effectively with purpose. It didn't feel unnatural or forced.

  5. Strong language to highlight points: Stacey uses words with weight when getting her points across. This is necessary for a leader who wants to make an impact - as she has. For example, she says: “We do have a strong pipeline coming up in June”.

  6. Relatable: She makes a point where she states that she started as a Stock Exchange Intern. This makes it easy to relate to her as she started from the bottom and made her way up. She says: “I grew up on this floor”, with a smile.

What Stacey could do to improve her public speaking skills:

  1. Maintain stillness in her body. At times Stacey was fidgeting and swiveling in her chair. This diminishes her appearance of a confident leader.

  2. Lock and hold eye contact more when speaking. It would be best for Stacey to avoid scanning in-between statements, and break eye contact at the ends of statements for flow and connection.

  3. Stronger language when asked her opinion. When asked a question about her opinion directly, it is important that Stacey avoid words/phrases such as “I think”, and “We should/could”. Qualifying language weakens her argument. She can replace those words with "We need to...", "I recommend that we...", "It's best that we...".


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