Takeaways: Every speech should be built on a big idea, a purpose, the why of the speech. Metaphors are useful tools to create simple and relatable ideas. John F Kennedy , January 20, Hand in hand with the main idea is the call to action. The most memorable quotes from inaugural speeches come from presidents who challenge the American people to reassess their beliefs and take action. There were many obstacles for Kennedy to overcome in the minds of the American people. Kennedy was, at 43, the youngest president, and the first Catholic president.
He was taking office during the tragedies of the Vietnam War.
He not only represented a shift in the status quo of the presidency, he was the face of the new America, the youthful generation of men and women who were now adults taking control of the country. His call to action challenged an idealistic generation to continue to serve their country after having already been sacrificed by the older generation to the Vietnam War.
State of the Union: Read the full transcript - CNNPolitics
His call to action is repeated throughout his speech, but the most famous line embodies everything he wanted to impart on the American people. Takeaway: A speech should not tell the audience what they already know. Build a call to action on the foundation of your big idea that challenges your audience to participate in your message long after your speech is over. Barack Obama , January 20, Speakers who weave narrative throughout their speeches instead of just spouting bullet points are the most effective in conveying their message.
Our brains are wired for story.
President Donald J. Trump’s Address to the Nation on the Crisis at the Border
We make sense of our world through the narrative of experience. In this sense, presidents who acknowledge and pay homage to American history while also offering hope for the future are the best storytellers. He invokes history as both a call-to-action and as reason to move forward. Every good story has a hero, a villain, a conflict, and a resolution. Obama is not the hero; the voters and citizens of America are the heroes. The villain is not American history, but the desire to live in the past.
The conflict in his narrative is not between the two parties, not even between the previous administration. This historical pursuit of our nation is the plot of his speech. Every instance of history he references is about the greater good, but clearly evokes the struggles our nation and its people have endured to accept equality, and thus, finally elect an African American for president.
In the face of our common dangers, in this winter of our hardship, let us remember these timeless words. With hope and virtue, let us brave once more the icy currents, and endure what storms may come. Takeaway: Utilize the elements of good storytelling plot with a hero, villain, conflict, and resolution to create a speech that provides your audience with a clear, emotionally relatable narrative.
Bill Clinton , January 20, We must provide for our nation the way a family provides for it's children. Our founders saw themselves in the light of posterity. We can do no less. Anyone who has ever watched a child's eyes wander into sleep knows what posterity is. Posterity is the world to come -- the world for whom we hold our ideals, from whom we have borrowed our planet, and to whom we bear sacred responsibility.
We must do what America does best; offer more opportunity to all and demand more responsibility of all. It is time to break the bad habit of expecting something for nothing, from our government or from each other. Let us all take more responsibility, not only for ourselves and for our families but for our communities and for our country. To renew America, we must revitalize our democracy. This beautiful capital, like every capital since the dawn of civilization, is often a place of intrigue and calculation. Powerful people maneuver for position and worry endlessly about who is in and who is out, who is up and who is down, forgetting those whose toil and sweat sends us here and pays our way.
Americans deserve better, and in this city today, there are people who want to do better. Let us resolve to reform our politics, so that power and privilege no longer shout down the voice of the people. Let us put aside personal advantage so that we can feel the pain and see the promise of America. Let us resolve to make our government a place for what Franklin Roosevelt called "bold, persistent experimentation", a government of our tomorrows, not our yesterdays. Let us give this capital back to the people to whom it belongs.
WE WROTE A BOOK!
To renew America, we must meet challenges abroad as well as at home. There is no longer division between what is foreign and domestic. The world economy, environment, the world AIDS crisis, the world arms race -- they affect us all. Today, as an old order passes, the new world is more free but less stable.
Communism's collapse has called forth old animosities and new dangers. Clearly, America must continue to lead the world we did so much to make. While America rebuilds at home, we will not shrink from the challenges, nor fail to seize the opportunities, of this new world. Together with our friends and allies, we will work to shape change, lest it engulf us. When our vital interests are challenged, or the will and conscience of the international community defied, we will act -- with peaceful diplomacy whenever possible, with force when necessary.
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The brave Americans serving our nation today in the Persian Gulf, in Somalia, and wherever else they stand are testament to our resolve. But our greatest strength is the power of our ideas, which are still new in many lands. Across the world, we see them embraced -- and we rejoice. Our hopes, our hearts, our hands, are with those on every continent who are building democracy and freedom.
Their cause is America's cause. The American people have summoned the change we celebrate today. And it is an interesting biological fact that all of us have, in our veins the exact same percentage of salt in our blood that exists in the ocean, and, therefore, we have salt in our blood, in our sweat, in our tears.
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We are tied to the ocean. And when we go back to the sea - whether it is to sail or to watch it - we are going back from whence we came. An old Breton fisherman's prayer that Admiral Rickover had inscribed on plaques that he gave to newly commissioned submarine captains. Rickover presented President Kennedy with one of these plaques, which sat on his desk in the Oval Office. For space science, like nuclear science and technology, has no conscience of its own. Whether it will become a force for good or ill depends on man, and only if the United States occupies a position of preeminence can we help decide whether this new ocean will be a sea of peace or a new terrifying theater of war.
I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the earth. Quite obviously, there is a higher purpose, and that is the hope that you will turn to the service of the State the scholarship, the education, the qualities which society has helped develop in you; that you will render on the community level, or on the state level, or on the national level, or the international level a contribution to the maintenance of freedom and peace and the security of our country and those associated with it in a most critical time.
The Greeks defined happiness as the full use of your powers along the lines of excellence, and I can imagine no place where you can use your powers more fully along lines more excellent in the 's than to be in the service of the United States. The Greeks once defined happiness as full use of your powers along lines of excellence, and I can assure you that there is no area of life where you will have an opportunity to use whatever powers you have, and to use them along more excellent lines, bringing ultimately, I think, happiness to you and those whom you serve.
That is a wonderful challenge for us as a people. I come here today And unless in this free country of ours we are able to demonstrate that we are able to make this society work and progress, unless we can hope that from you we are going to get back all of the talents which society has helped develop in you, then, quite obviously, all the hopes of all of us that freedom will not only endure but prevail, of course, will be disappointed.
So we ask the best of you I congratulate you on what you have done, and most of all I congratulate you on what you are going to do.