This post was updated January 15, 2018.
Thanks to the proliferation and growth of social media and live video today, nearly everyone has a public platform that they can use to convey a message to a large audience. It’s possible to see more clearly than ever who can give a talk that moves people and changes minds.
But in a completely different category are speakers who pass the test of time, and one of them is Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Today marks what would be Dr. King’s 89th birthday, and to celebrate the too-short life of this oratory genius, we thought we’d take a look at one of his most historic speeches: “I Have a Dream” – observing what makes it so spectacular and powerful. MLK’s “I Have a Dream” speech is not only literarily brilliant, its structure follows the presentation form perfectly, by traversing back and forth between what is and what could be, and ending by describing what the new bliss of equality looks like. In addition, MLK carefully chooses phrases and metaphors that resonate deeply with his audience.
If you’re struggling to create your next big presentation or even just crafting the message for your next staff meeting, take a few minutes to be inspired by the brilliance of one of America’s most beloved orators.
Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech is one of the most famous in history – and when looking at it closely, it’s clear why. He crafted a speech that helped people see the potential ahead of them, and he employed tools that aided them in seeing what the future could be like if they were willing to take action. (Check out another post we published on the power of metaphors in “I Have a Dream” a few year back).
Thank You to Dr. King for standing up and speaking out to change the world.
While Dr. King was an undoubtedly naturally skilled orator whose talks changed the world, anyone can take a page out of his book and learn how to employ the same effective speaking techniques by keeping in mind the delivery and structural strategies Dr. King employed. When you deliver your next speech, you too can deliver a talk that stirs audiences and has a major impact.
Happy Birthday, Dr. King.