The Importance of Delivery

While content is essential to an effective speech, delivery is what can take a speech from “good” to “great.” The smallest variations in timing, intonation, or gestures can greatly influence the meaning and impact of a speech, so it is important that we study and practice the art of delivery

Voices of Democracy contains video or audio recordings of a number of great speeches in history. These videos can be used to learn about the importance of pauses, pronunciation, body language, and other aspects of effective delivery. Among those are videos of several U.S. presidents who scholars have praised for their delivery skills. Although Reaganconsidered a weak speaker in his youth, John F. Kennedy is now regarded among the best presidential orators. Likewise, we still remember Ronald Reagan (left) as “The Great Communicator,” and Barack Obama’s political success is often attributed to his speaking skills—by supporters and critics alike. What is it about the delivery of these three presidents that warrants such praise? Watch these videos and judge for yourself:

John F. Kennedy’s “Inaugural Address” – Jan. 20, 1961
Ronald Reagan’s “Address to the National Association of Evangelicals (The Evil Empire)” – March 8, 1983
Barack Obama’s “Notre Dame Commencement Address” – May 17, 2009

On VOD, each of these speeches is also accompanied by Teaching & Learning Materials, including some questions that encourage you to reflect further on the importance of delivery and its relationship to the content of great speeches in history.

Samantha Baskin, Undergraduate Intern at the Center for Democratic Deliberation, Penn State University.

About Trevor Parry-Giles

Professor Department of Communication University of Maryland
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s