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Speaking Lessons from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Tom Ninness
Jan 16, 2010

Speaking Lessons from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. In honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, I decided to dedicate this week’s letter to his incredible speech he gave on August 28, 1963. Those that I coach and mentor, I emphasize the importance of speaking as it “ups” your chances to get clients, meet your hourly rate goals, and gives you the opportunity to show that you are an expert in your field. But speaking is more than just spewing information out—it gives you the opportunity to show compassion, enthusiasm, and the opportunity to inspire the listeners into action, just as Dr. King did during his time on earth. Here is a portion of Dr. King’s speech. “I Have a Dream from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. I say to you today, my friends, so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream. I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal." I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood. I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice. I have a dream that 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. I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification; one day right there in Alabama, little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers. I have a dream today. I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together. This is our hope. This is the faith that I go back to the South with. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day. This will be the day when all of God's children will be able to sing with a new meaning, "My country, 'tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrim's pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring." And if America is to be a great nation this must become true. So let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire. Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York. Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania! Let freedom ring from the snowcapped Rockies of Colorado! Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California! But not only that; 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. And when this happens, when we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, "Free at last! free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last!" What a speech—what a speaker!! I hope you get the chance to watch the You Tube Video of Martin Luther King’s—“I Have a Dream”. Here is the link: Look at the video closely when Dr. King gets to the part “I have a dream”. The emotion that comes from his heart, not reading any notes shows why on August 28, 1963 the perfect example of how inspiring and uplifting Dr. King was as a speaker. Speaking Lessons from Dr. King Dr. King used some rhetorical methods, including repetition, metaphors, inspiration, identification and persuasion in his speech topics. Dr. King identified with the crowd and emphasized unity. He brought historical background into the speech. He used repetition of the current situation and what and why the current situation needed to be corrected by the classical appeals using emotion, facts and values. Midway through the speech, Dr. King explains his goals and solutions to the problems-how to change, proposing, demanding and persuading. As speakers, we need to have elements of problem solutions in our speech topics—visualizing the practicality of our solutions, how they will improve the situation and show their effectiveness and practicality to those that we are speaking to. Final Thoughts In the 1950’s and 60’s Baptist minister Dr. King was the leader of a non-violent movement that strived for racial equality. In 1964, Dr. King was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Here are two additional quotes that I love from Dr. King: “We must combine the toughness of the serpent and the softness of the dove, a tough mind and a tender heart”. “If a man hasn’t discovered something that he will die for, he isn’t fit to live”. In today’s economic challenges, we must remain tough and persevere, but also gentle to those who are important in our lives. We must also have strong convictions that we are willing to die for—no matter what the cost will be. Have a wonderful Martin Luther King Holiday. Tom Ninness is Vice President/Regional Production Manager for Cherry Creek Mortgage in Denver, CO. He is also the President of Summit Champions, Inc. and creator of the “The 90 Day Journey to Your Sales Success”, a powerful 90 day action plan for the sales professional. To learn more about The Journey and Summit Champions, go to, or contact Tom at [email protected] Office: 303-840-0753.
Jan 16, 2010