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Great Speaker: Arianna Huffington

Updated: Feb 5

Best public speakers | great speakers | good public speakers | great public speakers

We included Arianna Huffington on our "Best Public Speakers" list because of her top-down and concise messaging, her grounded presence, her seamless incorporation of data and logic, and her steady pace.

Arianna Huffington is an author, syndicated columnist, political commentator and businesswoman. She is a co-founder of The Huffington Post, the founder and CEO of Thrive Global, and the author of fifteen books. She has been named to Time Magazine’s list of the world’s 100 most influential people and the Forbes Most Powerful Women list.

We analyzed Ariana Huffington’s 2016 interview with Inc. Magazine executive editor Jon Fine, titled "Why Sleep and Success Are Inseparable", where she discusses the measurable costs of "productivity culture" and sleep deprivation and outlines strategies to increase your sleep intake for improved professional function.

Her Communication Strengths:

1. Pace: Arianna has a steady grounded pace throughout the interview. She doesn’t rush, and she uses micro-pauses when making a point. (1:00; 5:40-6:21)

2. Smile: her expression is warm and approachable. She has an open face with slightly raised eyebrows, and she smiles often.(2:23-2:41) She even uses humor when talking about the very human response to sleep deprivation (“craving all the wrong foods”, 4:35) and discouraging early gym goers (“forget it, just sleep in [to lose weight]”) (4:45-5:20), as well as towards the end “3/4 of startups fail” (7:15)

3. Gestures: she uses the karate chop (1:25), a pincer talking about Martha Stewart as a standout example (2:42), and a key point gesture at 7:15 (highlighting “there may be an opposite correlation”)

4. Assertive vocal style: Arianna gives concrete and concise responses when Fine poses pushback. “The counter is the cost to mental health” (3:45) and most notably when she directly contradicts Fine’s question “No, the correlation you are drawing is not accurate…she says politely [laughs]” (6:40-6:45)

5. Eye contact: she focuses on Fine with warm but piercing eye contact. She makes sure that her point lands, but looks away at appropriate times as she elaborates on her thought (5:40-6:21; 6:50-7:15)

How She Could Improve:

1. Filler words: Arianna uses a few filler words, most notably “eh” while making a point. (1:30; 3:15; 4:00; 6:43; 7:03). It would be more effective to pause and give herself a moment to collect her thoughts.

2. Uptick: some of her phrases stray into uptick (rising intonation with facts and statements) which can be distracting (1:39; 2:26; 3:45). Some of her definitive responses sound less assertive as a result. When speaking in definitive facts and statements, it’s important to make sure they sound like statements, not questions, so the listener can follow along.

3. Vague gestures: she could be more precise in her gestures (1:50; 2:45; 7:20; 8:19). This is called “the claw” (fingers apart). She could make her larger gestures more defined by keeping her gestures tighter.


Developing communication skills is easy when you work with Speak by Design. We work with clients from around the world to help them master the art of public speaking and strengthen their presentation skills. We work with individuals, groups, and entire organizations. Your voice is powerful...if you know how to use it. Contact us today to learn more.

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