MLK – Changing the World Through Speech

Martin Luther King is known as the greatest orator in modern times– a man whose words and style created profound social change. Though few of us will transform society, we can elevate our professional world through the way we speak.

Here are three lessons:

  1. Your words have power:  MLK taught us that a leader must have a theme that s/he states frequently.  The four words “I have a dream” were powerful because they were chanted repeatedly and succinctly expressed MLK’s vision of a more just world. I have a dream my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. I have a dream today!”  
  2. Take a stand:  Leaders need courage to say what they mean and mean what they say.  As a communication coach, I have found that the most respected leaders take a stance, with diplomacy and strength. Dr. King statedThere comes a time when one must take the position that is neither safe nor political nor popular, but he must do it because his conscience tells him it is right.
  3. Find your Voice:  MLK’s voice was resonant and lyrical, with a poetic rhythm and passion felt through each phrase. Each leader needs to find his/her unique style.  My team and I have observed many kinds of speaking styles among effective leaders.  Whether reserved, impassioned, sonorous or subtle, the lesson from Dr. King rings clear:

The time is always right to do what is right.”

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