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What Is a Public Speaker?

Public speakers should try to engage with their audience instead of simply speaking to them.
Activist Malcolm X was a famous public speaker.
President Franklin Roosevelt was well-known as a powerful public speaker.
Public speakers might have a career talking at different events.
Public speakers need to maintain a positive demeanor to be effective.
Some people give public speeches as part of their job.
Not all public speakers are naturally gifted at presenting in front of a crowd, so some receive instruction from speech coaches.
John F. Kennedy is famed for his oratory and power of public speaking.
Martin Luther King Jr. was an activist known for his speeches.
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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
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A public speaker is someone who speaks in public to groups of individuals assembled specifically to hear the public speaker. Public speakers can appear in a wide variety of contexts, and many cultures have an ancient history of public speaking. In Greece and Rome, for example, oratory from public speakers was viewed as a vital part of society.

In some cases, a public speaker makes speeches as part of his or her job or career. Most politicians are public speakers, routinely making speeches during their campaigns to inform the public about their platforms and to encourage people to vote for them. Public speakers can also work for various companies, making public speeches to inform shareholders and the general public about the company's activities and major accomplishments.

A number of politicians have become famed for their oratory and the power of their public speaking. Winston Churchill, President John F. Kennedy, President Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Charles de Gaulle were famous public speakers, as were activists like Martin Luther King and Malcolm X. Memorable public speakers usually have excellent speechwriting skills or speechwriting teams, along with an superb ability to deliver a speech in a way which is compelling, engaging, and motivating. Public speeches have literally toppled empires, illustrating how powerful a public speaker can be.

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Other public speakers serve a more informational purpose. Many public outreach organizations retain public speakers to make speeches which will provide the public with information, ranging from speeches about how to access health care benefits to speeches about traveling safely in foreign countries. Public speakers can also act as motivational speakers or leadership speakers, motivating members of a crowd so that they will take action, engage in a particular activity, or realize their potential in their personal and professional lives.

Public speakers can also be involved in storytelling. While the tradition of narrating stories for large groups is growing less common in some regions of the world, in others, the oral tradition is alive and well. The storyteller may know the story by rote, or read it from a text, and the speaker has trained so that she or he can hold the attention of the audience, convey the story convincingly, and keep people coming back for more stories in the future.

Some public speakers acquire their skills naturally, but most have received training in public speaking. Training includes learning about cadence and pacing, along with training in enunciation and pronunciation so that a public speaker can be clearly heard and understood by the audience.

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