“I have a dream.” For most people, those four words bring a vision of Dr. King standing in front of thousands of people, inspiring them to greatness. We all know it is a great speech, but why? Let’s take a look at a few things that Dr. King did to motivate a nation to change.
Inclusion – One of the most potent things about this speech is his connection with his audience. Dr. King stands tall and strong in front of the crowd, but he is not preaching at his audience. He is with them, using words such as “we,” “us,” “our,” “together.” He became one with his audience.
Using these inclusive words keeps your audience interested. You are together on this, and you want to work with them.
Language– Just reading Dr. King’s speech is enough to inspire people to be better than they were before they read it. Language is such an important part of speaking, yet we take it for granted. Certain lines in Dr. King’s speech can compel you to act in ways you had never thought; for example, he says:
“Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice.”
He paints the picture as he talks. He doesn’t throw facts and figures, he inspires his audience by his eloquent use of words.
Not all presentations or speeches can be presented with such descriptive adjectives; however, give some thought to what you want to say, take the time to find the right words to convey those thoughts to your audience to inspire them to your cause.
Confidence – Have you ever seen someone present when they were not sure of the material? Did you cringe for them? Wonder exactly how many minutes they spent preparing for this presentation? With preparation, practice, and the right delivery skills you can avoid these responses and instead look and feel confident.
Dr. King exuded confidence. We saw it as he stood tall, his gestures and booming voice capturing his audience. He also had confidence in his material, so much in fact, that he actually diverted from and discarded his entire prepared speech. The phrase “I have a dream…” was not a prepared part of Dr. King’s speech that day in August 1963. He used the energy of his audience to carry his speech to conclusion. Dr. King’s great oratory gifts may have come naturally, but my guess is he practiced, practiced, and then practiced some more. I bet he not only practiced his speech, he practiced looking confident, his shoulders back, his head held high, his voice loud and strong, his eyes meeting others. Even if you are really shaking in your shoes, all of these behaviors give the impression that you know what you are doing. One of our motto’s here at EDC is “Behaviors drive impressions.” So what impressions are you creating?
Let’s all take a little inspiration from Dr. King today and take our dreams of excellence in communication to the next level.