Week 6: Effective Speaker

A few weeks ago I read that we would need to blog about an effective speaker, presenter, or performer. The thought about this often and continually returned to one individual who was not only an effective speaker but he was a successful presenter and performer. In addition, he was known as the Great Communicator. I am referring to our 40th president, Ronald Reagan. Reagan was our president from 1981-1989 which was during my middle and high school years. (Yes, I know I am telling about how old I am!) Even though we had many effective speakers with famous speeches such as John F. Kennedy’s “Ask not what your country can do for you”, Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I have a dream”, or FDR’s “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” Reagan made a tremendous impact on me. I was witnessing Reagan address the nation and his messages were connected with the concerns of the American people, like my parents.

Reagan was an effective speaker because of his ability to connect with the American people. He was a believable speaker because he believed in what he was stating. This included his faith in the country, the people, and freedom. His messages were simple, clear, and sincere. Reagan was always prepared and had a nice rhythm when he spoke. Of course, being trained as an actor did not hurt. One of his well-remembered speeches occurred at the Brandenburg Gate near the Berlin Wall on June 12, 1987. He challenged Soviet Union leader Mikhail Gorbachev to destroy the Berlin Wall and his quote “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall” became famous. His speech writers had not wanted him to use that phrase but Reagan knew what he wanted to say and he repeated it often.

I can personally recall when Reagan addressed the nation after the Challenger disaster.
I feel it was an effective performance because Reagan’s heartfelt words conveyed his sincerity. “We mourn their loss as a nation together,” he said. “We will never forget them, nor the last time we saw them, this morning, as they prepared for the journey and waved goodbye and ‘slipped the surly bonds of earth’ to ‘touch the face of God.” His speech had a personal side when he spoke of his and his wife Nancy’s feelings. He spoke to everyone regarding his sorrow. He spoke to the country, the mourning families, and children who watched the disaster. It was a sorrowful time but Reagan’s words helped bring the nation together during this tragedy.



3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Thoughts and Things
    Sep 24, 2013 @ 21:59:24

    This was definitely an effective speech – his tone was appropriate for the subject and his words did seem heartfelt. Also, his speech flowed really well from point to point. I like that you chose something that had meaning to you personally, and chose an orator from another generation. It is interesting to see the difference between this speech and some from more recently, like camera angle and presentation. It evoked emotion in me as well, which adds to its efficacy.


  2. catherinemprince
    Sep 24, 2013 @ 22:01:06

    My favorite part of the speech is when he addresses the children. Though they had undoubtedly spoken to their parents and teachers about what happened, for him to address them also shows he knew his full audience. His sincerity and sorrow can’t be doubted.


  3. Amy Snyder
    Sep 25, 2013 @ 16:52:37

    Wow. You’re right– you can really feel his genuineness. One of the most effective aspects of this speech was his eye contact through the camera, as if he truly was having a conversation with me.


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