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10 Speaking Lessons From Dissecting a Martin Luther King Jr. Speech

6. In application, start broad and zoom in.

As Dr. King makes the turn from his truth points, he does what great speakers do when it comes to application: They start broad and zoom in and zoom in and zoom in.

What I mean by this is begin with a universal application and then narrow in on more specifics.

7. Create urgency with application.

He creates urgency for these Jr. High students and encourages them that they are a part of the solution. There’s a tendency for our hearers to rest in the perceived comfort that someone else will do what needs to be done and that they can ignore the call to action—especially when the call is so big.

Whenever we are connecting truth to life and truth to action, we must bring with it the friend that is known as urgency. Bring urgency to the party.

8. Conclude with inspiration.

In the end, he utilizes a poem to inspire and brings the speech home to a rally cry: “We must keep moving, we must keep going. If you can’t fly, run. If you can’t run, walk. If you can’t walk, crawl. But by all means, keep moving.”

9. Vary your voice and your cadence.

Dr. King’s speeches and sermons are engaging because of his vocal variation. He has moments when he is loud and moments when he isn’t. He has moments when he extends the vowel of a word to create extra emphasis. In some moments, he speeds up his cadence and in other moments, he slows it down. At times, he extends a pause and at other times, he shortens it.

Pay attention to your cadence and your voice. Don’t be single-minded in either. Vary them both.

10. Focus your focus.

Instead of staring at notes throughout, Dr. King stood behind a podium and focused on his audience.

He understood the thrust of his message and was able to deliver it with his focus on his hearers.

This takes hard work, especially when you connect this lesson to the task of weekly preaching. But it can be done. It just takes intentionality.

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This article originally appeared here.