What is the secret to giving a speech that is viewed and shared by millions of people? This year brought us a collection of wonderful presentations and speeches by leaders, who effectively inspired each of us through the persuasiveness of their content and the humility of their delivery.
These speeches captured just the right moments that melted our hearts and massaged our minds. What inspires us most is the character and an etiquette that truly distinguishes the human qualities of these influential movers and shakers of our world.
These most inspirational speakers seize moments with a gift of amalgamated perspective, not only as if they’re dancing down on the dance floor, but also as if they’re standing high atop on the balcony.
Such inspiring leaders see a context for change and create it.
They give their audiences a strong sense of history and what’s moving about our past, as well as, what’s driving the forces at work today, and what’s the responsibility people must take in shaping our tomorrow.
Most of all, these inspirational speakers remarkably convey our struggles over values and power, while allowing us to see simply through their storytelling and imagination what’s functional and dysfunctional about our actions and reactions to change.
Toastmasters International (@Toastmasters on Twitter) is a nonprofit educational organization that teaches public speaking and leadership skills through a worldwide network of meeting locations. Headquartered in Rancho Santa Margarita, California, the organization's membership exceeds 313,000 in more than 14,650 clubs in 126 countries. Since 1924, Toastmasters International has helped people of all backgrounds become more confident in front of an audience.
March 2: When Matthew McConaughey won the Best Actor Oscar® for his performance in "Dallas Buyers Club" he described the three things he needs each day: (1) Something to look up to. (2) Something to look forward to. (3) Someone to chase. http://bit.ly/1pmmnyL
March 20: In his TED Talk, leadership expert Simon Sinek explored what makes a great leader. He suggested it's someone who makes his or her employees feel secure and who draws staffers into a circle of trust. Creating trust and safety — especially in an uneven economy — means taking on big responsibility. http://bit.ly/1xtPCSx
May 6: After winning the NBA Most Valuable Player Award, Kevin Durant brought the audience (and himself) to tears while thanking his mother during his acceptance speech for being "the real MVP." http://bit.ly/1hx8S6u
May 28: Returning to Harvard, her alma mater, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg addressed the graduating seniors and told them, "The first time I spoke out about what it was like to be a woman in the workforce was less than five years ago. That means that for 18 years, from where you sit to where I stand, my silence implied that everything was OK. You can do better than I did, and I mean that so sincerely." http://bit.ly/1ji2CAy
August 18: After a tough loss in the Little League World Series, David Belisle, coach of the Cumberland American Little League team, delivered an inspiring postgame speech to his players, telling the team, "You've given me the most precious moment of my athletic and coaching career." http://bit.ly/1rT16K6
August 23: In his speech, "I See Something," Sri Lankan Dananjaya Hettiarachchi inspired the audience with his story of personal growth and was crowned Toastmasters' 2014 World Championship of Public Speaking. Hettiarachchi beat 30,000 other contestants from 126 countries to win the championship. http://bit.ly/1BmFSbf
October 10: Two years after surviving a terrorist attack for advocating girls' education, 17-year-old Malala Yousafzai of Pakistan became the youngest ever Nobel Peace Prize winner. In her acceptance speech, Yousafzai vowed to continue speaking out on the importance of education, saying children around the world "should stand up for their rights" and "not wait for someone else." http://bit.ly/1xKfXKp
Nobel Peace Prize Co-Laureate Kailash Satyarthi of India (shown above on right) @NobelPrize said, “I refuse to accept … just one week of global spending on armies is enough to bring all of our children into classrooms. @k_satyarthi 7:45 am – December 10, 2014
Satyarthi also said “I refuse to accept that all the temples & mosques & churches & prayer houses have no place for the dreams of our children” @k_satyarthi 7:42 am – December 10, 2014
Toastmasters named these seven speeches as the most buzzworthy of the year, because they were personal, memorable and heartfelt.
By what methods are their most inspirational oratory messages produced?
Perspective of the most inspirational speeches showcased here, can be viewed through the lens of the most enduring speeches of all time by the oratory classists and essayists, Hugo, Sainte-Beuve, Renan, Taine, and Mazzini.
As their personage, messages and humility are quite obviously related to those expounded here in 2014, it seems appropriate to close here the manner in which these classic opinions, like those of the seven most buzzworthy speeches in 2014, are expressed.
Altogether, these speeches are most inspirational classics, not merely because they contain relevant and potent messages of their times, but also because they are in themselves oratory works of persuasion. For these speeches confer pleasure as well as profit. What distinguishes them from the recognition message on the one hand, and the doctrinaire study on the other, is their artistic composition.
Hugo, Sainte-Beuve, Renan, Taine, Mazzini and seven master orators of 2014 never give us a “collection of ideas.” Rather, they organize their collection of facts into a “dominate idea” sort of speak, which however complex, is cohesive, coherent, comprehensible, and complete.
Be it Matthew McConaughey’s “Something to chase,” Simon Sinek’s “Making great leaders,” Kevin Durant’s “Appreciating our Mothers,” Sheryl Sandberg’s “Speaking out as a woman,” David Belisle’s “Holding your head up with pride in the face of losing,” Dananjaya Hettiarachchi’s “Seeing something in oneself for personal growth,” and Malala Yousafzai’s and Kailash Satyarthi’s “Finding peace in defending children’s rights and dreams.”
These master orators give a voice to humanity that is “an intelligible unity of national utterance – sad, gentle, and imaginative,” says Harvard’s classic instructor in English, The Late Ernest Bernbaum.
Bernabaum instructs: “Sainte-Beuve answers his sweeping question, “What is a Classic?” with the succinct definition – a work that reveals in a beautiful and individual manner an eternal truth or emotion.”
What is essential for us to summon from these seven most inspirational speeches of 2014 is the universality of the “single sentence” conveyed by each compelling orator; “for in each a powerful mind grasps and expresses a single idea,” praises instructor Bernbaum.
The great critical orator, resisting all temptation, subordinates all details of “a collection of facts” to the general design of “a dominate idea” of their presentation in a methodological arrangement, wherein each of the sections of the orator’s speech, like the masters Taine and Renan, “is a firm and necessary foundation for those that succeed it," advises Bernbaum.
Bernbarm adds: We the listeners are “not asked to leap from point to point, or to retrace our way.” Our orator gently and humbly takes us “step by step along the path of his or her discovery” as an orator.
Sprinkled throughout these great orator’s messages are picturesque illustrations and storytelling that compels listeners to stay attached to the end of their most inspiring messages.
“Sainte-Beuve states his definition of classicism in a few lines, and devotes the rest of his oratory message to applying it to particular authors,” Bernbaum eloquently points out in sublime illustration.
All the great masters of oratory persuasion have the gift of acknowledgement for it quickly enrolls others to stay onto the dominate idea firmly outlined, and fancifully conveyed in the imaginative paints of vivid colors we see and hear in the master orator’s message.
Most captivating and convincing to us is the clearness the masterful orator critic exhibits the distinctiveness and individuality of his or her message by the use of contrast, comparison and conflict of opinion.
Hugo, like these seven most inspirational speakers of 2014, “intensify our conviction of the complex character of modern life” – as Bernbaum contrasts – by describing a simplicity on this side of complexity, which may be surmised from respecting our history.
“These ideas are, to be sure, clear and enjoyable; but what do they matter?” if the orator critic does not compare and contrast one’s opinion. These seven great orators of 2014 “do not leave us calmly indifferent; they are on occasion critics militant,” Bernbaum celebrates for us as our absentee teacher here on the composition of inspirational criticism these seven great orators have achieved in 2014.
These seven great orators “add vigor to lucidity arouse and delight our minds. When we recognize how skillfully they fuse logic, imagination, and emotion, we perceive the superficiality of the distinction between so-called criticism and so-called creative [content and messages]. Good criticism is indeed creative, and its composition is a high art.” – Ernest Bernbaum, Instructor in English, Harvard University (1914). “The Composition of a Criticism”
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