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Best Public Speakers: Studying Tony Blair

Updated: Apr 4

Tony Blair is a British politician who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1997 to 2007 and Leader of the Labour Party from 1994 to 2007. He currently serves as the Executive Chairman of the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change. We identified Tony Blair as one of the best public speakers due to his strong, confident gestures, his composure, his ability to reframe questions, and his use of rhetorical questions.

by Stephanie Bickel

best public speakers

The public speaking even we reviewed: On COVID, leadership, government

Tony's strengths as a public speaker:

  1. Strong gestures: Tony uses a variety of definitive gestures, including the karate chop, to emphasize key points. This behavior demonstrates that he is connected to his messages. (:47, 3:16, 3:54, 8:37)

  2. Strong, confident voice: Passion and confidence are shown when he comments on what they did right as a country. Tony also adds weight and emphasis to words when he wants to strengthen his argument. (:48, 1:49)

  3. Rejects and reframes the interviewer’s question. He answers right away with, “You can do that”, and then he shares why and how it will be done. (1:42)

  4. Posture: Tony maintains a still frame and upright posture to keep a large presence in the room. He also leans in to show he is engaged in the discussion. (2:23, 3:54)

  5. Uses rhetorical questions to support his argument: By asking a rhetorical question, he makes the audience think about an alternative view. (2:12, 4:07)

Ways he could improve his public speaking skills:

  1. Answer the question being asked: Tony does not immediately answer the interviewer’s question and then meanders through a detailed description of something related to the topic. Start with the top line and then provide supporting details after. (:12)

  2. Maintain direct, engaging eye contact: He often loses eye contact and looks down or away while responding to questions. Looking down or away can be a sign of avoidance and uncertainty. Use direct, engaging eye contact to connect with listeners and convey confidence. (:12, 2:27, 4:53, 6:09)

  3. Minimize fidgeting with hands: On a few occasions, Tony starts to fold his hands together and fidget with his fingers. Remain open to the audience and reset hands to neutral position - on your legs or a table, about shoulders width apart, while sitting. (4:46, 9:38, 9:50)


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