Showing posts with label Speeches. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Speeches. Show all posts

Monday, February 20

Observing Washington: George Washington Day

Although many in the United States believe Presidents' Day is a meant to be a celebration of both President Washington and President Lincoln (and all presidents to some degree), the federal holiday is still only tied to celebrating the birthday of President George Washington. Any other designation is usually derived from state laws and not those of the nation.

In fact, the one time the federal government tried to pass such a law, the Uniform Monday Holiday Act in 1968, it failed in committee. It wasn't until the mid 1980s that the idea of Presidents' Day took hold, spurred on not by government but by advertisers. Shortly after that commercial movement, some states began to rename Washington's Birthday observances as "President's Day," "Presidents' Day," "Washington and Lincoln Day," or other designations.

In some ways, the combining of the observance (if not in spirit, in law), might have been a mistake. George Washington had a unique vision for the country and one fitting for people to consider today. Nowhere did he make his thoughts better known than his farewell address, which you can read here. Here are some highlights.

Highlights from George Washington's Farewell Address. 

Unity. Washington reminded the American people that their independence, peace at home and abroad, safety, prosperity, and liberty are all dependent upon the unity between the states. Although he recognized different regions had different beliefs, values, and visions of commerce, he believed that the nation would only prosper through unity.

Change. Although Washington specifically said that it was the right of the people to alter its government that these alternations and changes ought to only be done through constitutional amendments. Even then, he warned that political factions would ultimately take the power from the people and place it in the hands of unjust men.

Parties. Even as the first president, Washington saw the rise of a political party system as a danger to the nation and the Constitution. He believed there was too much potential for one group or another to seek power over other groups and gradually incline the minds of men to seek security as opposed to the absolute power of the individual.

 • Values. Although many people like to suggest that the United States ought to preserve a hardline separation of church and state, Washington believed that religious principles promote the protection of property, reputation, and life that are the foundations of justice. He said the morality of a nation cannot be maintained without religion (despite being a Diest himself).

Budget. Washington said that a balanced federal budget, including the maintenance of the nation's credit, is an important source of strength and security. He said the nation should avoid war, avoid unnecessary borrowing, and pay off any national debt accumulated in times of war as quickly as possible so future generations would not have to take care of those financial burdens.

Alliances. Washington continually maintained that the nation ought to avoid permanent foreign alliances with other nations, especially because foreign nations will continually seek to influence the American people and government. He said real patriots will be those who ignore popular opinion and resist the influence of friendly nations to seek what is best for their own country.

Equally interesting, in looking at the entirety of the address, it seems remarkable that a man who began his life as someone considered among the "middle ranking" would one day gain the experience necessary to guide the formation of a country and eventually preside over a constitutional government that could evolve. And, the entire time, he remained humble enough to feel the position he was elected to was largely undeserved.

His humility, no doubt, was the result of his own heritage. Although his half-brother, who acted as Washington's father figure after their own father had died, did have some privileges and opportunities granted to him after developing a close relationship with the Fairfax family, Washington was not necessarily born into any elite status like some of the country's founding fathers. He earned most of it.

And perhaps it was because he earned it that Washington still imparts some of the best wisdom for this country, even if his farewell address is no longer read by the House of Representatives and had taken on a more ceremonial reading in the Senate than one for our senators and representatives to reflect on.

If they did, some might imagine a very different agenda. If they did, they might see a government that works to unite rather than divide, preserve a legacy rather than write their own, protect individuals rather than subjugate them, observe morals rather than vilify them, balance a budget rather than argue about how much more to borrow, and place more importance on the country rather than its position in the world.

Happy birthday, George Washington (Feb. 11 on the old calendar and Feb. 22 on the new one). You might not have thought yourself worthy of the position, but your considerable wisdom proves otherwise. On every point, you were right.

Monday, June 21

Talking On Target: A Lesson In Public Speaking

Wondering why President Obama continues to slide in the polls and Tony Hayward, CEO of BP, was ousted from the daily operations of the BP oil spill? Both men delivered poor performances in public speaking and it undermined any faith in their ability lead.

One came across like a lawyer at best, administrator at worst, mostly concerned about an obscured vision of the future. The other came across as being overly coached by lawyers, paralyzed by an obscured vision of the past. It seems obvious that neither men are living in the present as both seem out of touch with the public.

An Analysis Of President Obama's BP Oil Spill Speech.

If there is any doubt that President Obama's BP oil spill speech was the low water mark of presidential speeches since he took office, a new study of Presidential speeches by HCD Research confirms it. On a scale of 1-7, the speech rated 4.4 among Americans, marking a continual decline in the president's likability, believability, and sincerity. The more he speaks, the less he's liked.

What went wrong for the one with the once silver tongue?

While less than scientific, a word cloud of the transcript reveals the flawed strategy behind the speech. The transcript wasn't about the oil spill crisis. It was about clean energy.

The decision to use the spill as a platform for petroleum reform rather than what Americans wanted to hear — how will we plug the leak, mitigate the clean up, and provide help for those affected — was flawed. No matter how you slice the speech, President Obama's emphasis fell just short of calling this disaster a failing of the American people for not being more aggressive on alternative energy.

While there is a time and place for everything, the administration clearly missed that this was not the time or place. Post polling shows the public believes overwhelmingly that President Obama has failed in handling the BP oil spill. It also raised severe doubts about his ability to handle a future crisis. Worse for Obama, there is ample evidence to suggest long-term damage compounded by continued missteps.

After his speech, his second term re-election outlook dropped an additional one or two percent among ALL political groupings (Democrats, Republicans, and Independents). While it is a long way until the next election, Obama's re-election chances are increasingly grim, with 27 percent of his own party unwilling to vote for him again. More than 61 percent of Independents and 91 percent of Republicans feel the same way.

Was there anything redeeming about Obama's speech? Yes. The sticking point picked up by a friendly media was to press BP and create a $20 billion escrow fund. When BP agreed a few days later, it was a minor victory among an ocean of missteps. Obama said he would make BP pay, they agreed. Of course, they intended to all along.

An Analysis Of Tony Hayward's BP Oil Spill Testimony.

Although Hayward's testimony performance has earned the scorn of the American public and pushed aside (hat tip: Geoff Livingston) as the man in charge of the company’s response, most media covered only a portion of the story. Hayward's prepared testimony wasn't all that far away from capturing public trust. It was the question/answer/statement section that crushed his opportunity.

The prepared testimony itself, at a glance, focused on the facts with an emphasis on the current BP response. Where it still missed, however, was that Hayward doesn't have the answers Americans want. They want to know precisely what went wrong and who is liable, facts that will still take months to sort out (beyond the most obvious, of course).

Another aspect missing from the testimony was genuine remorse and an apparent inability to provide reasoned responses to the congressional grandstanding. Instead, focusing on coaching from attorneys, Hayward frequently appeared to duck and dodge the questions as if he had nothing more to say.

Was there anything redeeming about Hayward's stint? Yes. While the American media played up his lack of answers, the international media saw it differently.

All they saw were a few American congressional leaders working hard to paint BP and Hayward as public enemy number one. So, while Hayward might be performing on U.S. soil, the global community chalked up the exercise as American congressmen looked stupid and petty in the hopes of trying to pad their own re-election campaigns.

What Can Be Learned From Public Speaking In A Crisis?

Stay on topic. Stay on topic. Stay on topic.

Winston Churchill did not address policy change or progressive ideas in his speech "We Shall Fight on the Beaches." He did speak of his country's failures in allowing the roots of fascism to take hold in Germany or in acting too late as the Nazi party expanded its reach across the Europe. He stayed on topic, without concern for how many words were in each sentence. His audience got it.

"We shall go on to the end, we shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our Island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender, and even if, which I do not for a moment believe, this Island or a large part of it were subjugated and starving, then our Empire beyond the seas, armed and guarded by the British Fleet, would carry on the struggle, until, in God’s good time, the New World, with all its power and might, steps forth to the rescue and the liberation of the old."

John F. Kennedy did not shrink from responsibility in ushering forth a new era and new frontier, crying that a minority of legislators were somehow undermining the majority. No, instead of focusing on division, he focused on unified ideas that could bring people to solve the current crisis of the day. His audience got it.

"In the long history of the world, only a few generations have been granted the role of defending freedom in its hour of maximum danger. I do not shrink from this responsibility — I welcome it. I do not believe that any of us would exchange places with any other people or any other generation. The energy, the faith, the devotion which we bring to this endeavor will light our country and all who serve it — and the glow from that fire can truly light the world.

And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you — ask what you can do for your country.

My fellow citizens of the world: ask not what America will do for you, but what together we can do for the freedom of man."

Where Obama And Hayward Fail Most Miserably.

They both lack passion and inspired nothing. Instead, they drifted away from their respective responsibility of communication: Obama as a choice and Hayward because he doesn't know what Americans want to know. Worse, they offer up that "nothing more can be done than what they are doing." Americans, they say, need to wait patiently and place faith in their leadership.

That hardly works in America. The citizens are used to taking action when faced with a crisis. And when government doesn't deliver, they tend to take matters into their own hands, resenting those who failed to act in a manner greater than the crisis. Ergo, if the crisis requires a hammer plan, they expect the President to fix it with a sledgehammer plan.

Don't these guys get it? Handling a crisis is not public relations. It's about taking immediate action that is grounded in the present. You can lynch anyone you want, but put the fire out first. You can use every keyword on the planet, but your brand still sucks while the leak gushes oil.

One final thought, it seems to me that both men miss one word that has been included in virtually all great speeches. The word is "WE." And yet, both Obama and Hayward seem to avoid it. The only exception is that Obama uses "we" when referring to his administration and Hayward says "we" when he is talking about his company.

Don't these guys get it? This isn't an "us and them" story with the American public listed under the "them" column. Those people down there, whether funded by BP or directed by the White House, are Americans doing the work. They don't visit the spill area now and again. They live there, every day.

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Thursday, January 28

Setting Agendas: Apple iPad Trumps Presidential Address

A few days ago, Slate published what might have happened yesterday on if Steve Jobs would have delivered the State of the Union address as opposed to President Obama. Dubbed "The iState of the Union Speech" and penned by Christopher Beam and Josh Levin, the transcript provides a fun read.

Hmmm. Maybe it's more than a fun read. Internet trending last night suggests people seemed more attuned to Jobs's launch of the wildly anticipated iPad, despite criticisms, than President Obama delivering the State of the Union address. My friend Geoff Livingston had this on his mind last night.

"Only in America can the iPad and Lost trump the State of the Union. Think about that," he wrote on Facebook. Okay...

It's not America. It's communication.

Jobs opened with an emphasis on words like "better," "going," and "enjoying" as he delivered what could be summed up as a window into the future. And, if the iPad does everything Apple says it can do, the future looks to be a mere one step away from what we suggested it might be last week. Except, maybe it won't be docks that connect everything as much as WiFi.

“iPad is our most advanced technology in a magical and revolutionary device at an unbelievable price,” said Jobs. “iPad creates and defines an entirely new category of devices that will connect users with their apps and content in a much more intimate, intuitive and fun way than ever before.”

President Obama opened with an emphasis on words like "disagreements," "recession," and "fears" as he delivered what could be summed up as a glimpse of what he would like to do, which is what most Americans thought he ought to have been doing all along. Those were the same kind of words that he associated with the previous administration, which allowed him to call for change. But nowadays, those words only reinforce the feeling associated with his administration.

"Next, we can put Americans to work today building the infrastructure of tomorrow," said President Obama. "From the first railroads to the Interstate Highway System, our nation has always been built to compete. There's no reason Europe or China should have the fastest trains, or the new factories that manufacture clean energy products."

The choice seemed clear enough. One speech focuses on the next step. The other focuses on what might be three steps ahead. One speech focuses on what Apple is doing. The other focuses on what America should be doing. One accepts responsibility for moving forward. The other asks for other people to move forward.

Sure, equating a hardware launch to the State of the Union is comparing apples to oranges. And yet, when both compete for the attention of Americans, people didn't tune in to one and tune out another because one is fun and seems serious. They tuned in to talk about one because it represents everything the other didn't deliver — innovation as opposed to limitation.

It might be worthwhile to make other comparisons. Jeffrey Hill created word clouds between last night's State Of The Union and previous presidencies. At a glance, one notable difference between last night's speech and other presidents: President Obama seems to place the emphasis on the American people to do something to move forward whereas others placed an emphasis on what they were going to do to help the American people move forward.

Maybe Christopher Beam and Josh Levin's piece in Slate wasn't such a bad idea after all. Jobs might have made us feel better about the direction of things because Jobs would have been the priority 12 months ago.

Saturday, November 15

Killing Communication: CafePress

In what can only be described as a panicked reaction to an Associated Press story (and perhaps a cease-and-desist letter), placed a hold on and/or removed all merchandise bearing the likeness of Martin Luther King, Jr.

The AP story, which appeared in hundreds of newspapers, reports how the family of Martin Luther King, Jr. is demanding proceeds from the sudden wave of T-shirts, posters and other merchandise depicting the civil rights leader alongside President-Elect Barack Obama (and not alongside Obama for that matter).

CafePress members weren't notified with such a specific reason. Instead, CafePress simply sent a message with its prewritten policy rhetoric: "We recently learned that your account contains material which may not be in compliance with our policies."

As this wasn't the first time I've had to provide expressed documented permission to CafePress over its "hold first, ask later" policy, I e-mailed a brief message back outlining how we have permission for the usage. Doing so usually generates a ticket code and assigns you a "content usage associate," who tends to be a bit more attentive than a form letter. Not today.

Your use of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s likeness may violate his right of publicity. As outlined in our Intellectual Property Rights FAQ's, the Right of Publicity clause makes it unlawful to use another's identity for commercial advantage without permission.

Except, our use of Dr. King's likeness was not employed without permission. Our use of his likeness was in cooperation with the Corporation for National & Community Service and the Points of Light Foundation for the Volunteer Center of Southern Nevada in celebration of the Martin Luther King, Jr. "Day of Service." Affiliated centers, such as the Volunteer Center of Southern Nevada, were granted rights to use the image as part of a public service campaign, which is posted here. Our company receives no commercial advantage and confined such usage to the "Day Of Service" image.

Thank you for contacting! I apologize but it is not in our power to restore your images and host them on our site at this time. The only way we can do so, is if you obtain an authorization for commercial resale from his family.

When a company ceases two-way communication with a customer, it's time to consider another company. So while we always appreciated better print quality on paper items, it might be time to consider alternatives prior to an upcoming facelift on an experimental blog and on-demand store.

I might be wrong, but I do not believe for one minute that The King Center meant to block an approved national public service campaign that endears a prolific civil rights leader to a people. And if I am wrong, I will reluctantly start finding another Republican to write about every January.

So how could CafePress have handled this crisis communication issue? More on Monday.

Saturday, November 1

Considering Audience: Speaking On Social Media

I frequently tell people that social media is not a cookie-cutter operation, but it doesn't always resonate without context.

Generally, each business and industry might consider any number of qualities — the strategic objectives of the company, intended publics, corporate culture, and available resources, among other things — to determine the best approach for their business. While this sometimes means the answer to the question "how should my company engage in social media?" becomes "it depends," it's the most genuine. Consider some upcoming speaking engagements:

IABC Las Vegas Chapter - Twitter For Business, Nov. 6

On Thursday, Nov. 6, the International Association of Business Communicators is hosting a webinar on applying Twitter for Business: The Power of Micro-blogging with Aaron Uhrmacher from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. (check the link for other time zones). Immediately following the webinar, I'll provide some human touch for IABC Las Vegas with a short question and answer session. The local chapter tie-in will be held at Imagine Marketing in Las Vegas. The event is open.

U.S. Small Business Administration SCORE - A Social Media Overview, Nov. 11

On Tuesday, Nov. 11 (Veteran's Day), I will be presenting a 20-30 minute overview of social media for the Southern Nevada Chapter of SCORE, which is made up of experienced counselors who provide free business counseling to small business owners who are either just starting out or are already in business. SCORE is a resource partner of the U.S. Small Business Administration. You can learn more about SCORE here. The meeting is closed (for counselors only).

G2E 2008, Social Networking: Implications for Casinos, Nov. 19

On Thursday, Nov. 19, I will be joining a panel featuring eCommerce/Digital Marketing consultant Joe Wall, JJWall Associates and Michael Corfman, president and CEO of Casino City for a session that aims to explain how gaming can "combine social media and viral marketing without losing control." The session will cover how to best utilize blogs, podcasts, and social networks. The session will be moderated by Craig Border, senior account executive for Marketing Results, Inc. (MRI). G2E is the largest gaming expo in the world. The expo is open.

Leadership Las Vegas - Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce, Dec. 12

On Friday, Dec. 12, I will be joining a point-counterpoint panel discussion on Politics and Media: Sculpting Public Opinion for Leadership Las Vegas, which is an intensive, 10-month program devoted to strengthening and educating our community leaders. Leadership Las Vegas provides in-depth insights into a variety of issues impacting residents of Southern Nevada. This is the first time that a panel member will represent social media. Other panelists include: Bruce Spotleson, group publisher for Greenspun Media Group; Flo Rogers, general manager of KNPR Nevada Public Radio; and another member of the media, to be determined, representing television. The panel discussion will be closed (for program participants only).

Is there any possible way to present the same social media information to address varied topics for varied groups and truly provide them a baseline for things to come in their industry? I don't think it's possible. While I can define for them what the "conversation" means, I cannot rely on that as an independent theoretical message and have them leave with confidence.

Instead, much like we all tell early entrants in social media, we have to listen to the audience and adapt our message. In other words, the general idea that is preached — it's always better to pull a chain than to push one — applies to teaching social media as much as it does the application of social media.


Wednesday, March 26

Communicating Everywhere: College of Southern Nevada

Three years ago, I noted that the National Commission On Writing released a study that revealed 33 percent of employees do not meet the minimum writing requirements for the jobs they currently hold. Have we made any progress?

We don’t really know. The next national study, which is confined to students in grades 4,8 and 12, will be released by the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) on April 3. There has already been some buzz about the testing in Vermont, which recently discovered only 37 percent of the students were proficient, according to the 2007 New England Common Assessment Program.

The Burlington Free Press surmised that maybe the tests were too hard. Another ray of hope, the article deduced: If Vermont performed poorly, so did New Hampshire and Rhode Island. Amazing.

With logical leaps like these, it seems more and more that the federal No Child Left Behind Act, which requires these tests, is revealing that our students are participating in every child left behind programs. It also makes even more sense why the administration recently wrote off the National Writing Project. And why state governments were estimated to spend about $250 million per year, attempting to improve writing skills among employees.

Why Communicate? Panel Discussion, 10 a.m. to noon, April 5

All the above are among the reasons I recently volunteered to participate on the Third Annual “Why Communicate?” Panel hosted by the College of Southern Nevada, hosted by Tina D. Eliopulos, professor of English. The panel presentation will take place at the Cheyenne Campus, room 247.

Joining me on the panel are: Andrew Kiraly, journalist and managing editor of Las Vegas CityLife; Janice Marie, author of The Goodness Experience; Anne Schultz, special agent for Department of Justice Federal Bureau of Investigation; and Geoff Schumacher, director of community publications for Stephens Media.

The intent of the panel to discuss the importance of effective communication — written and verbal — in the professional world. Well, 70 percent of all jobs in the United States require writing skills. That seems like a good reason.


Monday, January 21

Remembering Greatness: Martin Luther King, Jr.

Every year, Americans observe Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday (Jan. 15, 1929) on the third Monday in January, sometimes leaving others from around the world to wonder why. The reason is simple enough.

“The Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday celebrates the life and legacy of a man who brought hope and healing to America. We commemorate as well the timeless values he taught us through his example — the values of courage, truth, justice, compassion, dignity, humility and service that so radiantly defined Dr. King’s character and empowered his leadership. On this holiday, we commemorate the universal, unconditional love, forgiveness and nonviolence that empowered his revolutionary spirit.

We commemorate Dr. King’s inspiring words, because his voice and his vision filled a great void in our nation, and answered our collective longing to become a country that truly lived by its noblest principles. Yet, Dr. King knew that it wasn’t enough just to talk the talk … that he had to walk the walk for his words to be credible. And so we commemorate on this holiday the man of action, who put his life on the line for freedom and justice every day, the man who braved threats and jail and beatings and who ultimately paid the highest price to make democracy a reality for all Americans.

The King Holiday honors the life and contributions of America’s greatest champion of racial justice and equality, the leader who not only dreamed of a color-blind society, but who also lead a movement that achieved historic reforms to help make it a reality.

On this day we commemorate Dr. King’s great dream of a vibrant, multiracial nation united in justice, peace and reconciliation; a nation that has a place at the table for children of every race and room at the inn for every needy child. We are called on this holiday, not merely to honor, but to celebrate the values of equality, tolerance and interracial sister and brotherhood he so compellingly expressed in his great dream for America.” — Coretta Scott King

Martin Luther King, Jr. represents someone who believed that all people could be great because all people can have a voice, can be heard, and can serve each other on the path of greatness. This idea, that we are all created equal with an equal opportunity for greatness, was part of his dream.

In addition to promoting his call to service in cooperation with the Volunteer Center of Southern Nevada, we will be placing a remembrance video on Revver and a copy on YouTube with the hope that some people will gain a deeper appreciation for his work.


Monday, January 15

Missing Noble Causes: Martin Luther King, Jr.

When 250,000 people peacefully marched on Washington, D.C. in 1963, to whom Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his address, "l Have a Dream,” most knew he was a leader of the American civil rights movement, political activist, and Baptist minister.

Most people also knew the march made specific demands upon government, including: a law prohibiting racial discrimination in employment; protection of civil rights workers from police brutality; a $2 minimum wage for all workers; and self-government for the District of Columbia, then governed by congressional committee. His speech, considered one of the greatest addresses in American history, and the outcome of that march, led to King being becoming the youngest man to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize (for his work as a peacemaker, promoting nonviolence and equal treatment for different races) in 1964.

A lot can be learned from King, a man who was more interested in promoting civil rights as opposed to censoring those whose aim was to deprive them of those rights. A lot can be learned from the people who followed him to the foot of the Lincoln Memorial, because they understood why they were marching.

Certainly not in every case, today’s activism seems to have changed, and not always for the better. Nowadays, some activists use “we just want to make a point and be heard” as a shield for alternative agendas that their marchers might not understand or agree with.

Addressing “blog swarms” specifically, an activist’s message might be carried forward on thousands of blogs before anyone has gathered the facts. Indeed, the mere volume of posts may make it appear as if the protagonists are telling the truth, even when they are not.

There are many reasons “blog swarms” catch fire, ranging from those who are curious to see why a certain search term has suddenly been driven to the top to those who simply repost an inaccurate recap in order to stack their stat numbers. Even for those who understand a portion of the topic they write about, sometimes the best intentions often bring out the worst behaviors.

Indeed, for these reasons, the phenomenon is probably the most misunderstood and least written about in crisis communication and public relations today. As my class, which usually consists of 15 to 20 students and working public relations professionals, begins this Thursday, it will certainly make for a worthwhile point of conversation in how to apply new and traditional crisis communication strategies to what has possibly become the greatest communicaton threat to businesses today.

Happy birthday, Martin Luther King, Jr. I, for one, miss your message that a true common man could become a civil rights leader, without the benefit of the Internet or anonymity, and move a nation with a noble message that all people, not just some people, could be equal and have a voice.

Monday, January 16

Speaking Of Dreams

"I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: 'We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.' I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slaveowners will be able to sit down together at a table of brotherhood. I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a desert state, sweltering with the heat of injustice and oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice. I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. I have a dream today." -- Martin Luther King, Jr.

Martin Luther King, Jr. was a great thinker, writer, and speaker. He delivered these words with such intense clarity and emotion that they captivate people today as much as they did on the day he spoke them on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial (August 28, 1963). It was following this speech that Martin Luther King, Jr. was credited with mobilizing supporters of desegregation, prompting the 1964 Civil Rights Act, and solidifying his receipt of the Nobel Peace Prize.

He knew, as a few talented speech writers still know, that every speech must be written, rehearsed, and rewritten until it sounds exactly right to the ear. They always use everyday language that is easily understood and create mental pictures so they can better understand the words. They avoid an overuse of statistics and call listeners to take action. They are emotional, effectively using pauses and/or humor, as appropriate to drive key points home. And above all, great speeches demonstrate the power of communication and its ability to change behavior or shape the direction of a nation.

For more examples of great speeches delivered for the betterment of mankind as Martin Luther King, Jr. intended (as well as some speeches that had the opposite effect), visit Great Speeches of 20th Century.

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