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What Makes a Great Speech... Great?

Many of us dream of delivering a great speech, an address that moves people to tears, a presentation that motivates people to act.  We enjoy listening to those speeches. They bring us to a positive emotional state. We feel better. We might modify our beliefs, our words, and most importantly, our actions.

While we can point to speeches by tyrants and dictators in history hat caused people to do things they would otherwise not do. Let us use our talent to speak for good.

Here is one of the greatest speeches. It might surprise you to know that this speech is by Charlie Chaplin, the famous comic actor, as the reluctant leader in the 1940 movie "The Dictator." If this doesn't move you, you are unmovable.

Pay attention to the structure of the ironic contrasts that are as real today as they were in 1940.  Realizing that, the creator of this YouTube version of the speech inserted scenes from our "modern", "civilized" life.

We have freedom of speech, yet many ignore the responsibility to say meaningful things. With great power comes great responsibility. Let us learn to speak in a way that lifts up; not to tear down. Here is a speech by 19-year old Iowan Zach Wahls before the Iowa state legislature. Clarity, passion, up-lifting.

Deonte Bridges inspired many with his valedictorian speech at Booker T. Washington High School.  Passionate, heart-felt, a model.

In 1992, 12-year old Severn Suzuki spoke at the United Nations Earth Summit in Brazil

Here is a version of Severn's speech with music and poignant images added. Read our article on using music as a guide in speeches.


Craig Senior 


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