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Speeches That Shook The World

Anaphora, alliteration, allegory, all these might be found in a great speech, and Speeches That Shook The World is just about that – what makes a good speech? In the BBC piece, Simon Armitage examines some of the most important speeches in 20th and 21st century Britain and looks at the tools the speechwriters and speakers utilised in order to communicate their points effectively and with impact.

The show is available to watch, in clips, for free on BBC Iplayer, by following the link here. Perhaps one of the most valuable pieces of advice is during the examination of Aristotle’s identification of three core principles of rhetoric. What made an effective and successful speech back in ancient Greece would still make a successful speech today, with a bit of translation, because the fundamentals of appealing to people with speech haven’t changed.

 

There’s three key areas:

 

Logos – making sure the speech is logical. Few people will buy into what you’re saying, no matter how impassioned or how important, if it doesn’t make sense.

Ethos – coming across as ethical and sincere. Trust is incredibly important in bringing people to your argument. If people do not trust you, they will usually not react well to what you say, even if it is entirely reasonable.

Pathos – the emotion behind the speech and sentiment. A speech can be made entirely logically and by a trusted speaker, but without emotion there is no conviction, no urgency, and the point is easily lost.

 

Remember that you need each of these, at least in someway, to make your speech successful. It is the pathos – the emotional core of a speech, which is usually lost by non-professional speakers. Whilst business may be logical, the people running business are always emotional, even if they make logical decisions, and it’s important not to forget that.

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