3rd Station – Speak up to be heard


Find yourself a quiet space in which to work. You will need access to the internet to watch some short films and TED Talks and read online reference sources, plus a pen and paper for making notes, and a copy and your Circle of Influence worksheet from Station 2 (if you started completing it there).


What makes a great speech?

Think of the best speech you ever heard. What made it great? Jot down some thoughts.

One of the fundamental principles of democracy is freedom of thought and speech – the ability to have your own ideas, views and opinions and share them with others: To speak YOUR truth.

One way of doing this is through public speaking – through making a speech.

Sometimes we make formal speeches in order to share knowledge, to get people talking about a certain topic or to promote an idea. Our aim might be to encourage or persuade people to think how we think, or recruit them to a cause. Sometimes our aim is as simple as wanting to share our own story or entertain people.

So not all speeches are the same – different situations call for different types of speeches – but the objective is usually the same: To share an idea and have your audience think, feel or act in a certain way as a result: Cause and effect.

Of course, free speech is not only about our ability to speak freely but also our ability, and willingness to listen to others and allow others’ views to be heard. A speech will only achieve its objectives if people are prepared to hear it.

All too often we choose to hear those speakers whose views and opinions most closely mirror our own. But one of the most important ways we can promote free speech is by being ready to hear ideas and opinions that we might not agree with or may not want to hear.

So how can we make our speech so great that people will want to listen even if (or especially when) they don’t already agree with what we are saying?

Watch and Learn

Let’s start with some tips and techniques from coaches and experts: Watch at least one of the short films and read at least one of the articles below, and, as you watch and read, add to your list any new points for what makes a great speech.


Julian Treasure:  How to speak so that people want to listen

Have you ever felt like you’re talking, but nobody is listening? Here’s Julian Treasure to help you fix that. As the sound expert demonstrates some useful vocal exercises and shares tips on how to speak with empathy, he offers his vision for a sonorous world of listening and understanding.

Conor Neill: How to Start a Speech

Conor Neill has been teaching Persuasive Communications on MBA courses at IESE Business School for 10 years. In this presentation he asks: What are the first words of a speech? What should be the first sentence of a speech? How can you engage an audience from the first moment?

Nancy Durate: The Secret Structure of Great Talks 

From the “I have a dream” speech to Steve Jobs’ iPhone launch, many great talks have a common structure that helps their message resonate with listeners. In this talk, presentation expert Nancy Duarte shares practical lessons on how to make a powerful call-to-action.


Consolidate your learning:

Now think about the speech that you will write for the ultimate Spirit of Democracy Challenge and start to consider:

Now for some inspiration:

Choose two of the speeches listed below and as you watch and listen see how many of the points you can spot from your list of what makes a great speech. Did they:

Martin Luther King, Jr’ – I have a Dream

“I Have a Dream” is a famous speech from American civil rights activist Martin Luther King Jr. in Washington D.C. on August 28, 1963, in which he called for civil and economic rights and an end to racism in the United States. Spoken to over 250,000 civil rights supporters from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, the speech was a defining moment of the civil rights movement.

Gloria’s Steinem – Women’s March Speech, 2017

Feminist icon, Gloria Steinem, addressed over 500,000 women who gathered at the Women’s March in Washington DC, with fearlessness and conviction. She took on topics plaguing the society such as the role of women in the world and equal rights, while sending a bold message to the government to not undermine the power of women.

Barack Obama – Election Victory Speech 2008

This speech is often referred to as the Obama “Yes we can!” speech. This election victory speech in 2008 was watched across the world, marking, as it did, a historic moment that offered hope, and promised change and responsibility, in anticipation of a better future.

Malala Yousafzai – Nobel Peace Prize Lecture 2014

Malala Yousafzai is a Pakistani student and education activist. She is known for her activism for girls’ and women’s rights, especially for her campaign to allow girls to go to school. She survived a gunshot attack in October 2012 and is the youngest person to have won the Nobel Peace Prize. This is her acceptance speech.

Steve Jobs – Commencement Address at Stanford University, 2005

Steve Jobs, Chairman and Co-Founder of Apple delivered a now-famous speech at Stanford University’s 2005 graduation ceremony. In a 15 minute address, Jobs summarized life lessons into three stories that were inspired by his personal experiences. His closing advice to his audience to “stay hungry, stay foolish” became synonymous with Steve Jobs and with the idea of striving to become better versions of ourselves.

Hillary Clinton’s Address at the Women in The World Summit, 2015

Calling women the ‘agents of change’, Hillary Clinton delivered a passionate speech at the Women in the World summit, speaking about the struggles women face in all walks of life due to unequal rights. While remaining optimistic about seeing a positive change in future, she spoke about issues that often go overlooked.

Structuring your speech

Public speaking can be a frightening prospect for anyone. Even the most impressive public speakers feel just a little bit nervous before they go onstage. This can be a good thing if it brings energy to your talk, but too much anxiety can affect your ability to get your message across. So what causes the fear?

One of the top answers that comes up in response to this question is the fear of making a fool of yourself, in particular by not knowing, or being able to remember, what you were going to say or losing your way and rambling.

The way to tackle this is through preparation. Even if you are not planning to read your speech or use notes, it helps to write it down and plan what you are going to say in advance. Your introduction should capture the attention and interest of the audience and set out the topic you are going to address. Think about structuring the main content of your speech around three key points that you want to cover, each of them supporting the main purpose of your talk and using examples, data or other references to add interest and substance to your talk. Then think about a conclusion that includes a call to action.

You will have spotted that a lot of the advice given about public speaking (both verbal and using your “voice” in other ways e.g. in online communities) uses acrostics or other techniques to remember rules and tips, or is organised into a number of points “I am going to tell you three things” or “give you four tips” etc. This is no accident. It is to help us to remember, and it is a technique that works if you apply it to constructing a speech.

Here is our version, click here to find out the steps to construct it. You might find this useful in building your speech for the final challenge.

If you completed Station 2 find your Circle of Influence Worksheet and consider whether you have captured anything at this station to add to the circles.

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