Public Speaking Tips from the CEO of Deloitte

James Quigley is global CEO of Deloitte, the largest private professional services firm on earth. Jim generously gave me 45 minutes on the phone.

I asked Jim to share a personal weakness that had become a strength. He spoke about public speaking. He called himself a bit of an introvert. I didn’t, however, take his comment in the traditional “shy and withdrawn” sense.

I understood his comment in the context of  the opportunities and challenges the public platform provides leaders to shape, direct, and motivate large organizations. Leading from the front is a powerful way to reach 175,000 employees.

Jim said, “People want to be led. They want leaders that have vision and passion. I’ve learned to leverage the opportunities the stage provides and do my best to ‘deliver the message’.”

Jim Quigley’s 8 public speaking tips

  1. Know your audience.  Do your homework—understand the audience’s perspective, and think ahead about what that means to you, as the speaker.
  2. Engage your listeners—make eye contact, and work the room to connect.
  3. Wherever possible and appropriate, take and follow their cues—watch the body language.
  4. Be flexible and be prepared to change the flow of your remarks, length of presentation, and focus based on changing circumstances.
  5. Own the material, even if team members helped you prepare.  To connect with the audience, the content must be yours.
  6. Be passionate about your topic – it is critical to not only know your topic but to also be passionate about it if you are to capture the attention of your audience.
  7. Be yourself – authentic speakers connect.
  8. Be careful with humor, risk usually exceeds the reward.


What do you find challenging about public speaking?

What tips public speaking tips can you offer?


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Read my review of Jim’s book, “As One: Individual Action, Collective Power

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