Subject Material

Barack Obama and Martin Luther King - Great Speakers

Published: 11.08.2009, Updated: 03.03.2017
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Barack Obama's Inauguration Speech

Listen to and watch parts of Barack Obama's inauguration speech. Focus on his oratory skills.

Discussion

  • What are your first impressions?
  • How does he strike you as a person?
  • How does he appeal to the people?
  • What words stand out?
  • How important is his body language?

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. at the Lincoln Memorial

On August 28, 1963, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. told 250,000 supporters at the Lincoln Memorial of his dream of equal rights. King was assassinated less than five years later, but the "I Have a Dream" speech has lived on, expressing an ideal of racial harmony toward which America continues to struggle. Listen to and watch parts of his speech at the Lincoln Memorial. Focus on his oratory skills.

Martin Luther King Speech 

Discussion

  • What are your first impressions?
  • How does he strike you as a person?
  • How does he appeal to the people?
  • What words stand out?
  • How important is his body language?

Writing

Come up with a title yourself.

  1. Write an essay in which you discuss the following proverb: The tongue of a man is his sword and effective speech is stronger than all fighting. Make references to the speakers above in your text.
  2. How important is it to have people like Martin Luther King to stand up and fight for common causes?
  3. Martin Luther King was a pacifist, which means he did not accept the use of violence to reach his goals. His followers were often subjected to violence. Do you think you would have responded in the same peaceful manner, or would you have fought back using violence?

Presentation

Choose a famous speaker, e.g. one of the two above, and make a Powerpoint/Impress presentation of him/her. Make sure you include why you think he/she is a great speaker. Do not just list facts about their lives, but tell relevant anecdotes and add pictures/audio/video to liven up your presentation.

Other suggested great orators:

  • Winston Churchill
  • Abraham Lincoln
  • Oprah Winfrey
  • Hillary Clinton
  • Margareth Thatcher
  • Nelson Mandela

Research

Sit in pairs. Find your favourite speech and show it to each other. Explain why you like it, and describe the occasion under which it was delivered.

Where to look: