I am often asked who my favourite speakers are. Before I can even reply, some of the names which are thrown at me include Barack Obama, the late Sir Ken Robinson, Amy Cuddy, Amanda Gorman (recently) and Tony Robbins – all great speakers who have influenced audiences on a global stage, but what about local talent?I get excited watching memorable speakers and there are some great speakers right here, in Perth. Over the past few years I have seen some excellent presentations delivered by exceptional people who have educated and challenged me, left me feeling uplifted and determined, and in some cases – they have changed my thinking. In no particular order, here’s a list of 10 people who have left me… speechless, starting with Suzanne.
I am always in awe when Suzanne speaks and I often say to people, “When Suzanne speaks, you stop and listen!” Suzanne’s presence and demeanour are incredible – she has the most wonderful, calming presence about her and you warm to her from the moment she starts talking. Suzanne also has this unique gift of making everybody feel connected with her through her eye contact, her tone and her pace, which all come together perfectly to make you feel like you are the most important person in the room.
Suzanne is the reason for my involvement with TEDxPerth, which is where I met our next speaker, Kai.
I first saw Kai speak at TEDxPerth when he was 14. Let me repeat that – FOURTEEN! Kai is wise beyond his years and he speaks like a seasoned presenter. Measured, controlled and thoughtful, you can see Kai’s brain working through the various elements of his talk. His language selection is brilliant; Kai uses words which, in his teens, would have taken most of us years to learn and he’s undoubtedly got a massive future ahead of him.
Another person who I think has a big future ahead of them, is Julia.
When Julia readied herself to present at a Women in Technology WA (WiTWA) event I sensed she was a tad nervous with 100 people staring at her, and she balanced those nerves beautifully by being herself. She acknowledged her feelings and delivered a wonderful story about her experiences in The Antarctica as a participant in the Homeward Bound initiative in 2019. Julia used stunning images to bring her talk to life – however it was her consistent smile and grounded personality that were so endearing. I left feeling inspired by her story of adventure and travel!Inspired isn’t what I thought I would feel after watching a technical presentation, but Zaun somehow managed to do that to me.
When Zaun stepped up to the stage at WA Leaders I thought, “Oh man – this is going to be a boring, technical talk”Instead, Zaun started with an image of robots in Columbia and from there, he had us in the palm of his hands. Zaun’s delivery was exceptional – his pace, tone and positioning were excellent. He used the stage superbly – casually walking as he spoke and in doing so addressed every part of the room (at one stage he even walked off the stage). What struck me most about Zaun’s delivery was his timing; when you walk and talk, you need to move in sync with your speech and he did that brilliantly.
A few months after Zaun presented at WA Leaders, I got to watch Simon grace the stage.
What do you get when you put a teacher, facilitator and sales expert on stage? A memorable speaker! For anybody who has ever seen Simon speak, you would agree he’s a brilliant presenter. Sure, that comes with years of experience, however Simon is more than that. When you listen closely you can pick up his inflections, his change in tone, and if you haven’t already seen his online videos – he’s the only speaker I know who can write backwards perfectly (genius!) whilst keeping you totally engaged in his presentation.
Keeping an audience engaged takes energy, and Vanessa has plenty of energy to keep you awake!
I’ve seen Vanessa present a few times and the one word that always comes to mind is power. Vanessa has incredible presence and once she hits her groove – the characters come out. The dancing comes out. The accents and stories come out. Vanessa is a straight-talking speaker and once her characters come out to play, you can see the faces of the audience beam with energy and enthusiasm. Vanessa can lift the spirit of a room with alterations in her vocal variety, and you always feel like there’s more to come from her.
And somebody else with lots of energy – Dave!
My first ever professional speaking engagement was going up on stage after Dave Clare, and I was shitting myself!Dave is a combination of energy, zest and a relentless desire to serve his audience. I have seen Dave challenge himself, reinvent his presentation, get comfortable being uncomfortable and still deliver a memorable talk packed with value. Dave’s presence and body language always impress me – he knows how to move; I’ve seen him run backwards and present – and then get slightly out of breath – and keep going!
If there was ever a man I’d like to watch run backwards and present, it’s Andy.
What I love most about Andy is his no bullshit, straight talking style. He’s a super smart guy who rocks up in jeans and sneakers (something I am going to try!) and delivers. Andy knows how to combine props, humour and tools when he facilitates workshops, and I’ve watched him moderate panels where he’s asked deep questions and linked the speakers’ together effortlessly – not an easy thing to do when you are under pressure!
And one person who thrives under pressure is my good friend, Amy.
Some of you might think I am biased by including Amy given our strong working relationship, however she is one of the best presenters I have seen. Amy takes control the moment she’s on – she’s a patient, focussed and strong presenter, and you can sense the authority in Amy’s voice when she speaks. Amy is one of the few speakers I’ve seen who truly embraces silence, which can be very powerful when it’s placed in the right areas of your presentation.
Amy, and all the presenters I’ve listed above, seem to have a plan and some structure for their presentations, which is something our final speaker Paul, doesn’t need.
The second teacher and the final person to make this list, is Paul. He is one of the most natural presenters I know. I have seen him speak at Charity and corporate events and he is superb. Paul is one of those rare breeds who can string together a beautiful presentation with minimal preparation and tie it all in simply by looking at his next slide, transitioning with a link and keeping a strong thread to hold everything together.
There are many other excellent presenters I have seen, and some notable mentions are Gary Martin, Rabia Siddique, Julian Pace and Emma Gibbens – all of whom have reputations for being great speakers and always deliver when you listen to them present.When you listen to a great speaker – you feel a shift inside you. It’s like your finger clicks and you realise that your thinking, your day, your mood has been changed or challenged by the person on stage.
Done well, public speaking is an art form which can excite, energise, and galvanise people.
Chris Anderson, the Head of TED Talks beautifully summarises the impact of public speaking when he wrote, “Public speaking is the key to unlocking empathy, stirring excitement, sharing knowledge and insights and promoting a shared dream”I felt all those things while watching the presenters in this article and I am so excited about listening to and praising other talented speakers right here, in Perth 🙂