As we celebrate the birthday of noted Civil Rights leader—Dr. Martin Luther King in January, 2012—it is fitting we look at the speaking techniques that made him one of the greatest speakers of all time.
Because these tend to overlap, I'll focus on two (2) inter-related elements:
1. powerful use of metaphor
2. eloquent language
Regarding the use of metaphor, the American Civil Rights Movement was subtlety cast in the context of the Exodus of the Israelites from Egypt led by the prophet Moses.
Thus, Dr. King was subtlety cast as the "black Moses," evident in this seemingly (prophetic) last speech before his death:
"God has allowed me to go up to the mountaintop. I may not get there with you, but I promise you that we, as a people, will get to the promise land."
Dr. King not only uses compelling metaphor but also uses eloquent language. Eloquent language was often used in his 1963 iconic "I Have A Dream" speech:
Why organize your speech?
If your speech is organized, you help your audience understand, follow and remember the main ideas of your speech.
Conversely, a disorganized speech quickly frustrates your audience—causing them to immediately tune you out early. Thus, they will hardly remember the main ideas you are trying to convey—and you will have simply wasted your time.
The following is a speech outline for a general speech. (For highly-specialized speeches, such as a persuasive speech using Monroe's Motivated Sequence or a problem—solution speeches, I will post the specific outlines in a later post.)
Speech Title:_________(Note: Make it Interesting)
A. Grab Attention immediately: say a bold quote, bold statement, short anecdote, or a physical gesture.
B. State your Thesis (one concise sentence): what you want audience to specifically think, feel or do?
C. Summarized ALL Supporting points
Say Transition (from Introduction to Body)
Many speakers do not explain how their speech topic is personally relevant to the interests of their audience and listeners.
The great thing is that most can be made relevant—or more relevant— to the personal interests of the audience.
Let's make this Introduction more relevant to the audience.
In 2009, approximately 11K innocent victims were killed due to drunk driving accidents–approximately 32 percent of the total driving deaths for that year. Horrible and needless deaths!
Make the Introduction personal and closer to your audience by adding the following:
Last week—in our very town of Mt. Pleasant—five (5) innocent young victims of drunk driving were buried by devastated and grieving relatives. Next week, the next drunk driving victims in our town could be your wife, husband, son, daughter, father, mother, niece, nephew or friend.
Stop this carnage in our beloved town of Mt. Pleasant! Stop drunk driving NOW!