Moving Your Audience With Words

George J. Ziogas

The secret to moving your audience to action

Individuals in the United States recently celebrated the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Ringing from the radio stations and television programs was his riveting “I Have a Dream Speech;” arguably one of the most quoted and moving deliveries of all time.

What made this speech so compelling? Perhaps it was Dr. King’s candor, reputation or delivery style that made the speech remarkable. However, if you strip down this famous speech to mere words on paper, you’ll see that the language used stands up to this memorable delivery.

If you have to deliver speeches on a consistent basis or you just want to improve your public speaking style, let’s consider the telling themes used in one of the greatest speeches of all time.

By analyzing his unique wording style and language cues, you’ll be able to implement these tricks into your next speech.

Grandeur

“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.” — Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

The opening statement of Dr. King’s speech instantly grabs your attention. Not because it’s delivered with power or the voice speaking the message is an icon. Rather, the exaggeration and expression of grandeur is enough to turn a head or two.

When you’re writing your next speech or essay, express confidence in your words. This will make your audience compelled to listen to what you have to say; even if you’re just starting out in your career.

History

“But one hundred years later, the Negro still is not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination.” Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Dr. King uses one of the tenets of public speaking; repetition to evoke a message. By incorporating this style into a historical context, it’s educating the reader in an entertaining way.

Now that the audience is presented a statistical fact, they’re more inclined to agree with his point. When you’re writing a speech, it’s best to provide some sort of historical context that aligns with your overall theme. Backing up your statement with undeniable proof makes your writing valid. It also leaves your audience with a nugget of information they probably didn’t know prior to.

Metaphors

“But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt.” — Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Using metaphors and similes makes the context relatable. The audience is able to make a connection they probably couldn’t make prior to listening to the speech. This no doubt grabbed the attention of individuals who may not have been dealing with social injustice.

If you want your audience to stay alert and understand where you’re coming from, incorporate imagery into your writing. This keeps the piece interesting and shows your literary creativity.

Urgency

“It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment. This sweltering summer of the Negro’s legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality.” — Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Using words like urgent and fatal no doubt stressed the importance of Dr. King’s message. It made his audience understand that their nation’s time was limited.

Freedom ultimately meant life or death. This point wouldn’t have been taken seriously had Dr. King not used such telling vocabulary.

A successful website has several “call-to-actions” sprinkled about to drive the reader to do something. This is not to be neglected in your writing. By encouraging your audience to do something, you’re holding them accountable.

Even if they don’t follow through on their actions, they’ll still remember that sense of urgency in the future.

When using words to convey a message, think about who your audience is and what they might need. Implement these tips and your speech is bound to turn heads.

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HR Consultant | Life Coach | Freelance Writer | Delivering content with the reader’s interests in mind.

New York, NY
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