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Best Public Speakers: Susan Rice

Updated: Dec 4, 2023

Susan Rice served as a United States ambassador to the United Nations and as a United States national security advisor. We included Susan on our best public speakers list because of her vocal and physical poise and use of supportive gestures.

by Stephanie Bickel

best public speakers

The best public speakers event we reviewed: A panel discussion where she addresses restoring and renewing relationships with allies.

Susan’s greatest public speaking skills:

  1. Strong vocal presence: Susan has a low-pitched voice, has great vocal projection, speaks slowly, and speaks in a definitive tone. All vocal qualities lend to a confident and credible voice. (throughout)

  2. Uses a variety of gestures: She uses both micro and grand gestures to support the messages she delivers. You will see her use the karate chop, pincer, and open palm as she speaks to different topics. (:05, :15, :41, 1:19, 1:47)

  3. Physical poise: Susan is deliberate in her posture and eye contact. She has excellent posture, staying upright with her shoulders back. Susan also includes the entire audience with her direct, engaging eye contact. (throughout)

What Susan could do to improve her public speaking skills:

  1. Minimize fidgeting with her glasses and touching face: Susan can be distracting to her audience when she fidgets with her glasses or touches her face. This could be perceived as uncertainty. Reset to a neutral position in between gestures to avoid reverting to these types of nervous habits. (:10, :13, 1:05)

  2. Eliminate filler words: Although Susan speaks slow enough, certain filler words (uh”) still creep into her speech. Pause instead. If you struggle with filler words as well, record and listen to yourself. By increasing self-awareness, you will begin to understand when these non-words enter your speech. (1:10-1:42)

  3. Incorporate a variety of vocal styles: Susan maintains a serious tone throughout most of her message. To unleash her personality, we recommend using different vocal styles to better connect with all audiences. She softens her facial expressions with smiling and laughing (1:47 - 2:10), but she still seems a bit rigid in her delivery. We’d encourage her to do this even more!


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