“I have a dream” – Anatomy of an influential speech
It is to history that we refer to when searching for influential and mind-changing speeches. Steve Jobs, Barack Obama, Winston Churchill, Nelson Mandela are the people that have delivered successfully their messages and whose slogans and mottos are citied daily. The “Call to Action” contained in each of those speeches resulted in change, success and history making moments.
The speeches have in common a key message of BELIEF: the belief in the importance of what is communicated, the belief in its urgency, the belief in its possibility. A belief understood to be essential to the future of human kind.
“I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation.” – This is the opening line of Martin Luther King, Jr ‘s speech on 28th of August 1963, addressing the crowds at the March on Washington.
Together with the use of key terms that identify the subject of his speech such as “palace of justice” “freedom”, “civil rights” the listener can recognize without difficulty the purpose of the speech.
The call to action is linked to time – words as “history”, “five years ago” and “one hundred years” frame the issue. The iconic sentence “I have a dream” is in fact followed by “today” when voiced as a slogan and it provides the tone of urgency to embrace the necessary solution.
The audience is firmly represented in the speech: “our nation”, “Alabama” “brotherhood” and the speaker is directly and personally invested in the cause. Martin Luther King directly commits to the protest: “I am happy to join”, “I have come to cash a check”, “there is something I must say”
Practices of repetition are also used to allow the audience to grasp and retain key, simple sentences. Furthermore, the use of negative reiteration, e.g. “we cannot”, “we refuse to believe” provides a powerful warning against missing the call to actions: “It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment.”
Martin Luther King in the opening statement of his speech predicted the future: today the March on Washington is still considered one of the largest demonstrations for human rights in the USA.
Please join Symposium Learning at
Entrepreneurs Anonymous – “Last Tuesday” Meeting
to further engage in
“How to become a powerful influencer and bring about change!”
6.30 pm – 27th of October at Mercantile, Dame Street, D2