The History of Public Speaking
We’ve been captivated by words for as long as we’ve been using them.
Throughout history, the power of words has been proven time and time again, whether talking about powerful speeches, letters, poetry, music, and good, or sometimes pivotal, conversation. There are so many examples of people who have used their words to change the world for the better and even more examples of people who have used their words to bring hope to others in times when they thought there was none left.
Here’s what I believe: the “power of words” has never been just about the message—it has also been about the way that message was delivered. The more captivating the delivery, the more powerful the words became.
This wasn’t just true in ancient times—it still rings true today! If you think about it, motivational speakers are just as capable of changing the world as any politician or religious figure of the past by using their motivational speaking, utilizing their words and voices as tools to inspire positive change in people’s lives.
Through inspiration, change can be made.
Motivational speaking has helped build great nations…
The story of ancient Greece is a wonderful story demonstrating the power that well-strung words have had for centuries to influence and inspire people.
In a speech from Pericles, he said, “I cannot pretend that our sufferings are as nothing to them or to myself, but every great and glorious achievement has been achieved by men who have thought it worthwhile to stake their all upon a supreme effort.”
After years and years of plague in Athens, these words from Pericles spoke to the heart of the Greek people, inspiring them to rebuild their city and make it even more beautiful than before.
Motivational speaking has helped make great changes…
“Let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia. Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee. Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi, from every mountainside. Let freedom ring . . .”
Martin Luther King Jr. was an American Baptist minister who became the most visible spokesperson for civil rights in the 1950s and 1960s. He led many campaigns for labor rights and against racial discrimination, including organizing The Montgomery Bus Boycott and helping to organize the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom in 1963.
At that time, Martin Luther King Jr. played a crucial role in helping Americans voice their desires and need for change. MLK Jr. utilized what I like to refer to as a “collective voice.” This collective voice was a culmination of thoughts and feelings many Americans were already thinking and feeling. To speak truthfully on behalf of others, he first had to listen. He had to observe. And he had to address his own hurts to speak on behalf of entire communities of people with both strength and courage.
Motivational Speaking is Capable of Changing the World
There is power in our words. There is not a doubt in my mind that the weight of the words we carry is heavy. Words, when utilized with intention, are change-igniters, heart-healers, and a testimony to our lived experiences. Words will always be capable of shaping our future, healing our past, and, most importantly, utilizing our present.
Once upon a time, you would have found me sitting in the back row of meetings at A.L. Williams. I kept quiet; I added my input when needed, but regardless of how loud my voice was at the time, I was always observing (and I’ll have you know, the back row is quite the observation deck for life’s happenings).
Through my observations, I came to my own conclusions. I spent years identifying the patterns of my life, trying to find the points at which my theories made the most sense. As my role grew in the company, I started looking at our team’s patterns. What led to success? What invited failure?
I bring all that up to point out that my version of public speaking is based on my lifelong journey of observation. My life experiences, like many of yours, hold lessons; these are lessons that I have felt moved to share with you all over the past twenty years or so, especially.
Motivational speaking is about communicating, not just speaking.
When you add the tone, energy, inflection, and cadence of the spoken word to written words, you have a powerful combination that is determined to make a difference. We shouldn’t just listen to words; we should feel them.
Motivational Speaking Harnesses the True Power of Connection
I bet you can think back to words that moved you. These could have been passionate words from your partner, empathetic understanding from your therapist or pastor, or perhaps it was a poem you read or a powerful speech you heard on YouTube.
I want you to think back to those words and consider how they were conveyed. Why did you feel so connected?
The best motivational speakers have their own way of speaking to convey the best possible feeling and understanding. They tend to stray away from that colorful, flowery language (it gets a little weedy if you ask me) and focus on the words that are bound to make the most impact. Good motivational speaking isn’t as much about talking as it is communicating.
How can one empower others?
How can one speak with confidence?
How can one transfer their in-depth knowledge into something simple for other people to understand easily?
These are all questions to ask yourself as you speak to your team. You don’t have to be on a platform in front of thousands of people to ensure your words make an impact.
Could an inspirational speaker help empower your team? I have known it time and time again; there is nothing quite as powerful as having an invigorated spirit moving amongst your team.
How Can You Become A Better Public Speaker?
Write down your message—what do you want to say? What are the lessons you want to share? What is the experience that has made you who you are today? Once you have that clear in your mind, take a step back and look at your message as if it were an audience member. What would they want to hear from you? How can they relate to your story?
Practice speaking out loud. Practice inflection, pacing, and tone of voice until it feels natural for you. Then practice again!
Stand out. Help people notice that this isn’t just another speech but an experience worth listening in on. Or, maybe just being yourself—the person who has lived through something extraordinary and wants everyone else to know about it too—will make all the difference in how well people connect with what you have to share.
Does Your Team Need a Morale Boost?
Motivational speeches have long been a part of the business world and can be an essential tool that helps companies achieve their goals. The top motivational speakers are able to communicate their ideas with passion and authenticity, which makes it easier for audiences to connect with their message. Does your team need to hear a message that leaves them invigorated and ready to invest in teamwork?
John Addison has been speaking to audiences big and small for over four decades as he helps lead business owners to the places where they feel comfortable, capable, and confident in their leadership skills. Known for his southern charm and wit, John knows how to captivate a crowd and offer the kind of perspective that spurs action.