What Big Data and Public Speaking Have in Common

Public speaking is about turning even boring subjects into an inspiring experience. However, some speakers can make audiences cheer, while others put them to sleep. Genuine passion for the subject and good articulation can help, but successful public speaking engagements take something more. Analytics can actually tell us which elements can transform mere words into a unique experience. Elearning companies are also leveraging these analytics to provide greater value to digital presentations.

Modern Learning

Data analysis is about finding patterns and insights from collected raw data. Words are nothing if not information. How those words are used, the mannerisms, emotions, and much more are all factors in success or failure. Learning management systems are employing big data and even machine learning algorithms to create immersive virtual speaking environments. Analysis of thousands of speaking engagements has helped to identify what works best.

Inform and Entertain

Words and ideas have more effect if spoken with intention to engage audiences, not merely convey information. You should address listeners as if carrying on a one-sided conversation, not reciting scripts. Speaking with a monotone voice or other annoying speech habit will have audiences tuning out, if not heading for the door. Vary your tones to enhance the ideas you are expressing: changes in volume, rate, and even humor keep people attentive.

Don't be limited to dry facts. Using dramatic words like "amazing" or "game-changing" can automatically command attention and enthusiasm. You absolutely want to avoid using "um" or "uh" where words fail you. A few might be excusable, but it's a habit you want to break. Better a pause than a stuttering reflex that makes you look uncomfortable or uninformed.

Visual Cues

You may or may not be using visual aids like graphs or photos, but in terms of public speaking, visual cues come from your body language. This can often convey more subtle information than your words can. Facial expressions, stance, gestures, movement, and eye contact are all things people react to, whether they realize it or not. The visual language you're using is very important, something that contributors to eLearning solutions who don't have a live audience can forget.

Nervous tics or defensive postures erode audience confidence; too many theatrical gestures and exaggerated facial expressions can make you seem amateurish or even deranged. The correct posture is to stand straight, look at your audience squarely, and relax. Movements, whether they're hand gestures or strolling across the stage, should appear controlled, natural, and in line with whatever mood or point you're trying to establish. Try to avoid wearing or using distracting items such as pens, jewelry, and even pointers if you don't need them.

Word Choice

Great speakers know their audience and adjust their language to the appropriate tone of their setting. Technical or industry jargon will only sound like gibberish to people who aren't already familiar with it. Where such words or phrases are necessary, good speakers take the time explain them to the audience. Word choices should be concise and confident. Speak in shorter, clearer sentences rather than long blocks of words, which can get confusing and distract from the basic concept behind them. Try phrasing such as "I've learned," to provide greater conviction and authority than phrases such as "I suspect."


The most effective speakers are those the audience can trust. This isn't dependent on salesmanship, knowledge, or credentials so much as on sincerity. Top speakers manage to convey honesty and authenticity in their attitude and tone of voice. Read through your speaking notes and identify points that inspire you, or where you want to inspire your audience. Find ways to show your own feelings.

Connecting with your audience at an empathetic, personal level is important to creating a positive reaction. You want them to feel what you feel. Put yourself in their place. Identify with them and try to frame their perspective of you. This will help them to be more sympathetic and receptive to what you're saying.


Big data analysis allows speakers and eLearning solutions to evaluate their own performance to provide greater customization, iterative improvements, and easier deployment.

Whether it's a camera, a live audience, or both, you have to maintain interest before you can hope to impart any knowledge.

Brigg Patten

Brig Patten writes in the business and tech spaces. He's a fan of podcasts, bokeh and smooth jazz. His time is mostly spent learning the piano and watching his Golden Retriever Julian chase a stick.

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