What CEO’s Can Learn From Great Speeches

Before Martin Luther King Jr. galvanized a nation with one of the greatest speeches of the 20th century, he had honed his delivery and storytelling skills through years of experience behind the pulpit as a Baptist minister. 

He became a pastor at the age of 25 and delivered his famous “Dream Speech” nearly a decade later, giving him plenty of opportunities to sharpen his craft.

Many of the most gifted public speakers in our society are faith leaders. One gratifying benefit of writing books and columns on communication skills is the opportunity to reach an audience that extends beyond the “target market” of sales and business leaders. I constantly hear from spiritual leaders across religious denominations—priests, pastors, ministers, and rabbis—who work on their speaking skills to deliver more inspiring sermons. Their messages are different, their traditions are different, but their goals are the same—to inspire their audiences and to give them a reason to return to church or synagogue the next week.

By understanding the needs and the challenges of our spiritual leaders I’ve also learned to appreciate just how much business leaders can learn from those whose job it is to inspire their congregations. In fact, many of the words we use to define great communicators in business are based in the spiritual tradition. We look to business leaders to “inspire” us. In many companies the best presenters carry the title, “evangelist.” We call especially persuasive CEOs “charismatic,” capable of “converting” prospects into customers. They are “passionate” leaders who have “a calling” and inspire us to a “higher purpose.”

Read more: Forbes


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