Communication Tip: Inspiring Your Audience

A visitor to my site recently asked me for tips on writing an inspirational speech. Here are the suggestions that I passed along to her.

The key to writing an inspirational speech is to identify the feelings that your audience has and express them so that they reaffirm those beliefs and inspire the audience to act upon them. Here are some examples from history’s most inspirational speeches:

  • President Franklin Roosevelt gave his first inaugural address when our nation was afraid because of the Depression and growing fascism abroad. This is why he said, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” He wanted to reassure the country and inspire them to work together to overcome the Depression.
  • President John F. Kennedy’s inaugural address tapped into America’s post-war confidence and fears from the Cold War. This is why he said, “Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we will pay any price, bear any burden…” He ended with his famous call to action, “Ask not what your country will do for you…”
  • Reverend Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream Speech” reassured civil rights workers who faced brutality in their fight for freedom and eloquently presented a vision of racial harmony for people to work towards.

Once you understand your audience’s feelings, you can then put them into words and offer reassurance and a call to action. For example, if people feel uncertain about their own future because of the post-September 11 economy, you can suggest that they can find solace in helping someone less fortunate than they are.

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