The Most Compelling Speeches in History

If you have ever spoken in front of an audience you know how tricky this experience can be. On one hand, it is a privilege to deliver a message to a group of people. On the other hand, it is a challenge to speak in a way that your words would have an impact on the life of those listening to you. Not every speaker can come close to that effect. Some of them lack specific skills to have that impact. Others simply don't know what tools they can use to make their speech engaging for an audience. There are also some who just don't have enough courage or confidence to deliver the message in a compelling manner. It is useful to practice and learn some manipulation techniques as it is likely you are going to need those skills in future. But maybe the most effective study tool in his context is to have a look at some of the most compelling speeches of great leaders…

Great Speeches the World Has Ever Heard

  • Great speeches shouldn't be necessarily long. Abraham Lincoln once in his Gettysburg Address delivered a powerful message as he was dedicating a cemetery to the soldiers who gave their life in Gettysburg. If put to writing, his speech wound be under 300 words but it had a great impact on those listening. His speech wasn't based on manipulation techniques or anything like that; it was a passionate plea to honor the fallen soldiers by continuing in the things they have fought for.
  • John F. Kennedy, the youngest President of his time, emphasized the importance of national service in his inaugural address in 1961. Although he spent about two months preparing for this speech it was quite brief when he delivered it. Most of people today remember the words he said in that speech "ask not what the country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country." These words are still relevant today.

  • We would like to close this list with one famous philosopher, Socrates, who unlike the previous great speakers had to deliver a message which was to define whether he would live or die. It was delivered in the presence of an Athens jury in 4th century BC. It was an apology as he was defending himself from convictions rendered by his peers. The great speeches usually changed the course of a history. This one didn't change the fact that Socrates would die since his speech proved unsuccessful at that time. But what he said was considered a rhetoric masterpiece that highlighted the limitations of human knowledge. And despite all discoveries and scientific developments available for us now, his words probably wouldn't have changed if he was to die today: "The hour of departure has come as we go our ways – I to die, and you to live. Which better God only knows."

The speeches of great leaders is a great source for study in public speaking. Maybe you won't find any manipulation techniques there but they still can teach us more than some of the books on public speaking available today. The good thing is that you can easily find most of the speeches of great leaders online. At least those speeches given above are all available free of charge on different websites. All you have to do is to find and read them.

The interesting thing about all of those talks is that they were passionate pleas or challenges addressed to people. All of them were relevant and addressed a specific problem either in a local society or even in the world. If you can learn one thing about public speaking from this article it is that you should be relevant, passionate, and knowledgeable in what you speak.

3 Best Motivational Speeches to Students

The behavior and attitudes of young people can easily be affected by some advice, recommendations, actual examples from real life, and, of course, inspirational speeches delivered by well-known and successful people. There are a number of speeches worth reading and listening to on Youtube; however, there are top three of them that produce the strongest impression on the students and help them believe in themselves and gain success.

Steve Jobs Delivers Stanford Commencement Address (2005)

One of the most inspirational speeches, Steve Jobs commencement address at Stanford in 2005 calls for pursuing dreams and achieving goals notwithstanding any obstacles on the way to success. Being a co-founder of Pixar Animation Studios and Apple Computer, Steve Jobs says that everybody should find something they love and then "Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish." He tells them about the value of time, love and passionate ideas in life. He is an outstanding personality, whose motivational speech cannot but sound persuasive for young people who always look for the examples to follow.


Bill Gates Delivers Harvard Commencement Address (2007)

Highly emotional speech delivered to Harvard graduates and staff by a famous businessman and Bill Gates is full of humor, wisdom and charisma. Being a dropout, he calls for resolving the most urgent issues in the world. Receiving a doctorate, he declares to the students how important it is to address the inequity in life and use the talent, opportunities and privilege to turn the world into a better place with scientific advances and rapid technological development.


Commencement Speech of Denzel Washington

Being absolutely not afraid to speak out, Denzel Washington, tells about what he believes in. His motivational speech emphasizes the idea of how important failures are, and how important it is to be on the way to success. He teaches, inspires and arises admiration in young people, and that is amazing.


Listening to reflections and advice from outstanding people, young people start pursuing their dreams with greater passion as they see real examples of success to follow.

Writing a Good Speech: Efficient Tips

Are you tired of studying famous speeches in history and want to figure out how to write an impeccable piece? Find a couple of handy suggestions below:

  • Follow the KISS principle. It means that you need to keep it simple and short. All the sentences in your speech should be concise and grammatically simple. No matter what the purpose of your speech is, you should not confuse your reader by long and meaningless statements;
  • The human brain absorbs information effectively only if there is a combination of these three aspects:
    • Imagery. Including similes, metaphors, and vivid descriptions will allow your reader to imagine what you are trying to say;
    • Pronouns. The use of appropriate pronouns is a great weapon in the hands of the skilled speechwriter. If you look at the famous speeches in history, you will see that “we” is often used to create a sense of unity. The words “they” refers to a common enemy. If you use “I” too often, it is obvious that you are willing to take control;
    • Poetry. Rhyme, repetitions, and alliterations may help you make your speech more memorable. What is more, appropriate pauses will help you affect your target audience;
  • Jokes. If you have a look at the greatest speeches of all time, you will see that appropriate jokes are very important to create the right atmosphere, engage your audience, and appeal to many people.

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