What Made John F. Kennedy a Good Public Speaker?

Due to John F. Kennedy's strong ability to understand his audience, he excelled at public speaking. He skillfully used appropriate language tailored to his listeners in order to communicate his desired points with maximum impact.

Confidence was a key contributor to John F. Kennedy's public speaking success. When he entered a room just before delivering a speech, Kennedy sported an excited look on his face and smiled. These actions broadcast his enthusiasm to his audience, preparing them to attentively listen to the spoken words. Kennedy gained his confidence in public speaking in part from extensive practice over time and continuous commitment to improvement.

Another key contributor to Kennedy's strong speaking skills was his deft use of rhetoric. He frequently employed carefully chosen groups of words and sentences that featured a pleasing sound for listeners in some way. The famous line from Kennedy's address, "ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country" is a good example of Kennedy's skillful use of contrast. This question actively engaged listeners, asking them to think about their life in the United States while listening to the speech, in particular how they might improve the country through their own personal contributions. Kennedy's intelligent use of contrast and lists in his speeches significantly contributed to their popularity with Americans both when the speeches were delivered and in the years following his presidency.