Public Speaking Lessons from MLK for Changing the World

Were he still alive today, Martin Luther King, Jr. would be 83 years old; however, his impact on the world, even 44 years after his death, is undeniable. The power of his words, in particular from his famous “I Have a Dream” speech still resonate with us today as we examine the state of human rights in the US and worldwide.

One year ago, Nancy Duarte shared a project on MLK’s “I Have a Dream” speech. Her findings provide great insight into how to effectively, and more importantly, convincingly communicate with an audience.

MLK’s “I Have a Dream” speech is not only literarily brilliant, its structure follows the presentation form perfectly, by traversing back and forth between what is and what could be, and ending by describing what the new bliss of equality looks like. In addition, MLK carefully chooses phrases and metaphors that resonate deeply with his audience.

If you’re struggling to create your next big presentation or even just crafting the message for your next staff meeting, take a few minutes to be inspired by the brilliance of one of America’s most beloved orators. Thank you, Dr. King, for standing up and speaking out to change the world.

Martin Luther King Jr.’s speech analyzed by Nancy Duarte from Duarte Design on Vimeo.


  1. Ruiter January 16, 2012 at 6:03 pm

    Mr. King’s act then was theatrecally impressive, although I thought it even at that time overdone; or even rather vulgar. But OK I did not like him.

    According to FBI Hoover, rev. King had ‘more lovers than followers’. Has that ever been refuted? Yes or no the verdict is now by the time clear. Exoneration for King – even by facts – is not longer possible.

    God bless the USA, our liberators.

    Sorry. I am emancipatory, by mind, and sometimes by deed.