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Public Speaking - Why Dr. Martin Luther King's I Have a Dream Speech Is One of the Best in History

I Have A Dream

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is famous for delivering his "I Have a Dream" speech, during a crucial time in US history in the fight for civil rights. In analyzing that speech, you can see how Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s techniques can be used by anyone proving a speech can be more powerful and more effective.

March for Freedom

Originally delivered on August 28, 1963, during the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, Dr. King's "I Have a Dream Speech" inspired not only the thousands who were present on the mall that day but an entire nation then and continues to inspire new generations today.

Sadly, most Americans have never seen this speech in its entirety. Many of us have seen snippets from the powerful 2-3 minute version that begins with, "I have a dream..." which actually doesn't come in until about 12:22 into the full speech. Sadly, however, most Americans have never heard Dr. King's beautiful oratorical "Now is the time" litany in which he spoke about, "Lifting our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. NOW is the time to make justice a reality for all of God's children."

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Give yourself a gift and take 17 minutes to watch one of the greatest speeches in the history of the United States of America. As you watch, you'll see some of the tools Dr. King uses that made his speech one of the greatest in US history. Here's what exciting about that for any speaker: YOU can use the same exact tools and strategies Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. used to inspire and motivate a nation in your speaking as well.

Here are those strategies now:

Addressing ALL Members of His Audience: Beginning around the 8:29 mark, note how Dr. King acknowledges his message is not only for African Americans but for everyone including the "white people" in attendance.

Emphasizing Important Points with Repetition: When you have something important to say - repeat it. Dr. King repeated several phrases including "Now is the time," "We can never be satisfied as long as...," "Let freedom ring," as well as "I have a dream" several times.

Speaking with Passion: Anyone listening can hear Dr. King's personal conviction and passion for his topic.

Using Metaphors and Similes to Paint Pictures with Words: Watch as Dr. King invokes powerful phrases and forces such as "righteousness like a mighty stream" (around 10:41) and the aforementioned "Lifting our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood."

Repeating Popular Already-Known Shared Values and Details: During his speech, Dr. King shares the words of the Declaration of Independence of the United States of America beginning at about the 12:33 mark. One of our country's founding documents, Americans know it and are moved by its meanings, and as audience members are therefore more likely to be moved by the sharing of those words in the context of the speech.

Man giving a speech

Do yourself a favor and visit YouTube and search for the 17-minute version of Dr. King's I Have a Dream speech and watch every second. It'll make you proud to be an American.

One final thought... Dr. King's delivery was in fact NOT perfect. He got caught up and stumbled on his words a few times throughout the speech. Nobody cared. People do not remember those few occasional mistakes... they remember the power of his message. If Dr. King was worried about being a perfect speaker, the world would never have heard any of Dr. King's inspiring speeches. You don't have to be perfect either. Get your message out to the world using public speaking.

By: Felicia Slattery

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