The Five Pillars of Effective Public Speaking

October 16, 2022

A Roman forum. Ancient Rome
A Roman forum

Public speaking is a skill that can be incredibly useful in a variety of settings, from work to social gatherings and is integral to your self development. But it’s not just a 21st-century tool—the ancient Romans were also masters of the art of persuasion. In fact, public speaking was such an important part of Roman society that it was considered one of the three key skills that every citizen should master, along with writing and military tactics.

The Roman philosopher Cicero once said that “to be able to speak well is to be able to persuade,” and that sentiment was echoed by many other Roman thinkers. He went on to say, “To influence a person is to give him self-confidence.” This quote emphasizes the power that public speaking has to impact and change people.

Public speaking was seen as a way to improve self-development, build relationships, and achieve success in both business and politics. The ability to deliver a persuasive speech was highly prized, and those who could do so were often able to climb to the top of their field. While the Romans may have lived in a different era, their appreciation for the power of public speaking is something that we can all learn from today.

Today public speaking is a skill that is essential for any woman who wants to advance in her career. Whether you’re giving a presentation to your team or pitching an idea to your boss, being able to speak with confidence and authority is key. The Duchess Academy has identified the five pillars of effective speaking. What to know what they are? Keep reading to find out.

Marble statue of Abel from Bible. Hermitage in st. Petersburg, Russia
Marble statue of Abel from Bible. Hermitage in St. Petersburg, Russia

Pillar 1: A Clear and Concise Message

When you’re preparing for a speech or presentation, it’s important to start with a clear and concise message that you want to communicate. This will be the baseline for your entire talk and will help you stay on track while you’re speaking. Take some time to think about what you want to say before you start writing or outlining your talk—this will ensure that your final product is focused and on point.

Pillar 2: Confidence and Charisma

Confidence is key when you’re speaking in front of an audience—if you don’t believe in what you’re saying, why should they? But don’t mistake confidence for cockiness—no one wants to listen to someone who comes across as arrogant or condescending. Instead, focus on being clear, concise, and relatable so that your audience sees you as approachable and trustworthy. With practice, delivering speeches with confidence will become second nature.

Additionally, when we make eye contact with someone, it subconsciously signals that we are interested in what they have to say. It also makes us seem more confident and trustworthy. So the next time you’re in a meeting or giving a presentation, remember to make eye contact with as many people in the room as possible. 

Pillar 3: Engaging Visuals

Engaging visuals are key to keeping your audience’s attention during a long presentation. No one wants to sit through a wall of text, so mix things up by incorporating graphs, charts, images, and other visual aids. This will help your audience follow along with what you’re saying and retain more information from your talk. Just be sure not to go overboard—a few well-placed visuals will do the trick!

Pillar 4: Use Strong Language 

Using strong, unambiguous language is essential if you want to increase influence when speaking. That means avoiding phrases like “I think,” “I feel,” and “I believe.” For example, instead of saying “I think we should do X,” try saying “Let’s do X.” This small change will make a big impact on how others perceive your authority and expertise. 

Pillar 5: Tell a Story

Humans are hardwired for stories. In fact, we’re more likely to remember a story than we are a list of facts and figures. When crafting your speech, be sure to include a personal story or two that will help illustrate your point.

Panoramic view of interior of Papal Basilica of St. Peter (St. Peter's Basilica)
Panoramic view of interior of Papal Basilica of St. Peter’s Basilica


Remember these five pillars the next time you have to give a speech or presentation, and you’ll be sure to wow your audience with your confidence and authority. Public speaking doesn’t have to be scary—in fact, it can even be fun! Just follow these simple tips and you’ll be well on your way to becoming a master communicator in no time.

Looking to learn how to speak with confidence, influence your audience and speak eloquently? Apply for private coaching at The Duchess Academy today!

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