I recently had the opportunity to attend a marketing career panel at Babson College in Wellesley, MA. The school invited speakers from small marketing firms and Fortune 500 companies to speak to students about their careers and the ever-changing industry.

Notebooks and pencils at the ready, the students looked eager to learn from marketing professionals (and more importantly, attempt to land internships).

As the speakers took the stage, they had varying levels of success with how their message was received by the audience. Some were met with thunderous applause, while others had the students catching some shut-eye.

All the speakers, whether intentionally or unintentionally, could be defined by how well they performed in three key metrics. The use of all three creates a speech that any audience does not soon forget.

Engage With Your Audience When You Speak Publically

The first speaker strolled on stage in a very nice suit. He began by mentioning that he was from a Fortune 500 company and named the success in media he had over the years. The audience leaned in, eager to learn from someone of such a high caliber.

He then explained what his company structure was and how his everyday project management looked. In short, he lost the students’ attention.

Great speakers must engage their audience, and the way to do so is by keeping their content relevant. Establishing credibility in an industry of mutual interest helped the speaker to engage the students, but describing his company structure and project management (topics the students didn’t care about) failed to hold the attention of the audience.

Engaging the audience is a starting point. It causes them to lean in and listen, but it’s far from being worthy of a standing ovation

Your Public Speaking Must Always Excite Your Audience

The second speaker was very different from the first; she worked for a small marketing firm that could be considered far less conventional. She began by establishing her credibility with brand name companies she’d worked with and the students were interested.

She then followed with an explanation of how her company marketed using virtual reality. Bravo. She had everyone’s attention. If you’ve ever been in a room full of millennials and mentioned virtual reality, you know it warrants quite the discussion.

With the room buzzing, she then showed a video of how her firm had used virtual reality in a marketing campaign for outdoor gear. Users were placed into a simulation that was similar to hiking a very dangerous trail high in the Alps.

The students loved every second.

The second speaker had successfully engaged and excited her audience. She kept all of her content relevant and delivered it in a medium that gave the audience an adrenaline rush.

There are many things that excite us, but few that we remember. Engaging and exciting the audience is important, but there’s still an important piece missing to create a truly unforgettable speech.

Empower Your Audience In Your Public Speaking

A week after the speech, students continued to talk about the third speaker! Despite being a Fortune 500 executive, he jogged on stage wearing jeans and sneakers. There was an immediate shift in the energy of the room.

He began with an insightful story about the most successful people in history, followed with a contrast by what he believed to be the greatest failures in history. With a room full of students who craved success, he had successfully engaged them.

The speaker then went on to talk about a funny story from when he was in college, and how it led him to become wildly successful. He had the students both laughing and excited, and it showed.

Finally, he gave key insights and pieces of advice to the young audience. Not simple, cliché “words to live by”, but impactful and unorthodox “keys to success”. He told the students all the things he thought they were doing wrong in an internship search, and the things they had to do to successfully land a great one.

The audience was on their feet. The tools and next steps given for landing an internship did something meaningful for those students: it empowered them.

“A leader is best when people barely know he exists, when his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will say: we did it ourselves.” – Lao Tzu


Through an interesting, relevant story the third speaker excited, engaged, and empowered his audience. These three metrics are trademarks of all great leaders, speakers, teachers and team members. They create an atmosphere that motivates people to take action and shows them the first steps they can take to do so.

Hopefully, you clicked on this article because the title and image engaged you, and have read up to this point because the story and content have both engaged and excited you. Let this article empower you: write down action steps for implementing these tactics into your next speech or group project.

My mission is to empower others, and should you ever need help using these metrics, please reach out to me on LinkedIn, at learntospeakout@gmail.com or schedule an appointment and we’ll work on your development. In all communication, be sure to educate, engage, and empower.

Author’s Note

The structure for this article was inspired by an Inc.com article on great leadership. If you want to learn more about engage, excite, and empower, check it out!

I was once shy and introverted with little self-confidence. At the age of fourteen, I was encouraged to join my school’s debate team. I did not enjoy being behind the podium and could not handle being the center of attention. Practicing and learning public speaking is what changed all of that, and as a result, my life has significantly improved.

My passion is helping others learn public speaking and improve their self-confidence. This has driven me to found Learn to SpeakOut.

If you would like help improving your confidence and public speaking skills, please visit learntospeakout.com, join our Facebook Group or email me.

It’s never too late to increase your value by 50%. The best investment you can make is in yourself, and the way to do so is to engage, excite, and empower.

#PublicSpeaking #LearntoSpeakOut #professionaldevelopment #personaldevelopment #StudentVoices #confidence #communication #leadership #empower

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