Friday, April 9, 2010

"Takeaways From Historical Orators" - Prof.M.S.Rao

When you look at leaders like Woodrow Wilson, Abraham Lincoln, James Monroe, Mark Twain, Swami Vivekananda, Winston Churchill, Franklin D Roosevelt, Adolph Hitler, General George Patton, Eisenhower, Martin Luther King and John F Kennedy, they all have one common characteristic– gift of the gab. They were all great orators in the world who left deep imprints even after their death. What made these orators stand out from other leaders? Let us learn the same from the example of few great global orators.

Dr.Martin Luther King:

We hear many speeches. However, some speeches stand unique. They last forever. They last longer than the lives of the speakers. What makes them stand out? We shall now take Dr. Martin Luther King’s famous speech ‘I have a dream!’ delivered in 1963 which is one of the greatest speeches in the history of mankind. The speech is unique as Dr. Martin Luther King delivered from Lincoln Memorial.

His speech inspired many and is going to inspire the unborn. The speech was meant for racial equality and to put an end to discrimination of blacks from whites. The Time magazine named Dr. King as the Man of the Year in 1963. He bagged Nobel Peace Prize in 1964 for his peaceful movement for racial equality.

Dr. Martin Luther King’s speech was a rhetorical masterpiece. He emphasized the key points and phrases. He was very choosy in his words. It was a persuasive speech with emphasize on key aspects. Dr. King’s speech was a fervent appeal to both whites and blacks where the former regrets their misdeeds and the latter to fight for equality peacefully.

He used ‘we’ number of times, not ‘I’. He used ‘I’ only in one sentence ‘I have a dream!’. He recalled God like Lincoln invoked God. At the end of the speech he departed from the original draft and spoke and that added extra touch to his speech.

Abraham Lincoln:

The Gettysburg Address delivered by Abraham Lincoln in 1863 is yet another masterpiece. It is one of the best speeches in the history of America. Lincoln himself was a speech writer and drafted his speeches and edited number of times to make the speech effective. Besides, his presidential address and political debates are memorable in the history of America.

The effectiveness of the public speaking is known by the number of applauses. If there is long continued applause that means the speech is extraordinary. When Lincoln delivered Gettysburg speech in 1863 it was interrupted five times by applause and was followed by long continued applause. (Reference New York Times November 20, 1863).

Swami Vivekananda:

Swami Vivekananda’s Chicago speech on 11 Sept 1893 is another landmark in the history. He addressed the audience as ‘dear sisters and brothers of America’ and quickly connected with his audience cutting across the barriers based on color, creed, community, race, region and religion. He showcased India’s religious tolerance and peaceful co-existence and put India on the global map.

Winston Churchill:

Winston Churchill was yet another great orator who swayed his audience during Second World War. He had persuasive skills and made emotional appeal to defeat enemies. His speeches are inspiring and motivating even today and he is regarded as one of the best political leaders and orators of Britain in twentieth century. He divided his speeches as a brief introduction, body and conclusion with a clarion call for action for Britain to fight against enemies.

Adolph Hitler:

Adolph Hitler is yet another great orator of the twentieth century who united all Germans under nationalism and patriotism and who rebuilt Germany after its defeat in First World War. He stirred German nationalism through his speeches and inspired his people.

Hitler, in his speeches, often referred ‘German people’ to influence his people. He frequently referred ‘fighting’. He used ‘I’ often in his speeches. He also used the almighty and took pride for the accomplishment of Germans in his speeches. He had the gift of the gab. He knew how to sway his audience. He was a great orator who moved his audience in his favor with his ideological fervor.

Analysis of the Speeches:

The speeches are motivating and inspiring. The words are choosy, arousing and filled with emotions. It contains pace and pauses appropriately to allow audience to understand and appreciate the contents of the speech. The body language of the speakers correctly matched with the oral language and the modulation added emotional elements to make the speech memorable. The body and oral language conveyed the integrity of the speakers and it built the trust and confidence among the audience. The silence is also golden in their speeches where they allowed adequate time for their audience to think, ponder and applaud the contents of the speech. The invoking God connected entire audience into one platform and made people to support their cause.

Tips for Effective Public Speaking:

• Use eloquent language, appropriate diction and parallelism.
• When you deliver speech, project and present bright future.
• Repeat the key motivational points;
• Pose a few questions to your audience. Get their attention and connect with them.
• Connect with your audience emotionally.
• Take the name of God. Focus on commonalities not differences.
• Use positive words.
• Use silence effectively during speech.


For successful speech, it is essential to use imagery and make an emotional appeal. Use small and short sentences. Give pause wherever required. Include emotional elements. Call for an effective action at the end. Use transition points effectively. Above all, remember that it is the quality not the quantity that counts at the end of your speech.

1 comment:

ybr (alias ybrao a donkey) said...

Vivekananda's speech at Chicago is not on the record of the web site of the Chicago Parliament of REligions 1893.

He seems to have recreated it with the help of commercial phonograph Companies, by re-writing.