An academic’s personal attributes, as well as attributes related to subject design, have been demonstrated to influence student learning. In contrast to previous research, this paper focuses solely on exploring the personal attributes of academics that increase their teaching effectiveness. From a literature review and focus groups, four constructs were identified that lead to effective teaching – dynamism, rapport, applied knowledge and effective communication. A two-stage conceptual model was developed where all four constructs had direct effects on teaching effectiveness. Also, dynamism, rapport and applied knowledge had indirect effects via their effect on communication. Using structural equation modelling, being dynamic was found to be the most important attribute in explaining teaching effectiveness, followed by communication. Applied knowledge, however, was found to have only a small and indirect effect on communication effectiveness. Rapport was found to have a positive indirect effect on communication, but a small and negative direct effect on teaching effectiveness. This result explains some of the ambiguity in the literature about this construct, showing that being friendly can improve communication but being friendly with students alone does not necessarily improve teaching effectiveness.