iJumpTV 74: Great Speeches

February 22nd, 2010
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I love speeches – well, great ones at least. And Great Speeches for Better Speaking takes you on the inside of some of America’s best speeches: JFK’s inaugural address, Ronald Reagan’s state of the nation address following the Challenger disaster, and other lesser-known but equally powerful examples.

In this review I explore (among other things) the connection between oratory and social media – particularly the ability to persuade. It touches on issues covered by Clay Shirky in Here Comes Everybody – the idea that whether we like it or not, everyone has the ability to influence, whether they’re right or wrong.

The answer? An informed public. It’s going to be a better world if we all understand how persuasion works – whether it’s through a speech, or through a blog.

The author of Great Speeches also runs a website called AmericanRhetoric.com, which is a remarkable education resource.

In this review I also look back at another oratory-related review, Say it Like Obama. Who knows, maybe January 2011 will bring yet another book review about speech-making.

Also worth watching/listening: JFK, MLK and Winston Churchill run through autotune. Sounds like a joke, but I found it surprisingly touching!

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  • Pat
    When you are running for public office, you do need to be a really eloquent public speaker. Do these books on improving your speech giving capabilties have a section of how to pass a lie detector test too?
  • As a matter of fact ... no. :) This particular one has a section about the potential dangers of rhetoric in the democratic process. It really explores the issues well.

    If it's lying you want, I'll be reviewing a book later this year called Smoke and Mirrors about how statistics are used misleadingly.

    If you're really interested, you may enjoy this review I did many years ago on The Truth About Lies:

  • jonathonhagger
    There are also some great speeches on iTunes under iTunesU. They are great to listen. One of the great ones is by MacArthur "Duty, Honour, Country".

    One of the important points about great speeches is that they create actual and real change. Hence the reason why Churchill's speeches will long be remembered.
  • Great observation, Jonathan. MacArthur's "Duty, Honour, Country" is one of the speeches covered in the book. And JFK's inaugural apparently won a (short-lived, but sincere) peace agreement with Fidel Castro. That's action!
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