Drawing Public Speaking Lessons from 'I Have A Dream' (Speech Analysis) - Frantically Speaking (2023)

The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.

-Martin luther king, jr.

Windows 10 - How to Disable the Nar...

Windows 10 - How to Disable the Narrator Voice (& Change Narration settings)

Since time immemorial, we have been witnessing heart-wrenching instances of racial injustices in America. While the extent has reduced in the recent times, that hasn’t always been the case.

Be it the killing of George Floyd or the act of Amy Cooper making false allegations against a black man in Central Park, we continue to witness such sad incidents of racial discrimination, even in today’s times.

Almost sixty years ago, One Black Man delivered One Speech with One Belief and revolutionized the pathway towards Racial Justice in America.

This man is none other than Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr who delivered the speech, ‘I Have A Dream’ from the steps of Lincoln Memorial.

Throughout the course of this speech, he brought to light his belief of constructing an American Society characterized by peace, brotherhood and harmony.

To top it all, this heart-felt speech that ignited millions of minds to walk on the path of racial justice and civil rights,has a lot of public speaking lessons in store for you.

Watch the full speech here.

A Quick Overview

Drawing Public Speaking Lessons from 'I Have A Dream' (Speech Analysis) - Frantically Speaking (1)

Born and brought up in Atlanta, Georgia, a city afflicted by cases of racial injustices, Martin Luther King faced racial segregation in his day-to-day life.

Having done his doctorate in Systematic Theology from Boston University and established himself as a member of Baptist Church, he firmly believed that the act of racial segregation and discrimination is a disgrace to God’s will and thus, equality must prevail in the society.

He then pledged to fight back against the racial injustices and stood up for the rights of African-Americans.

From the Montgomery Bus Boycott which marked his presence as a national leader fighting against racial discrimination to the American Civil Rights Movement which resulted in the passage of Civil Rights Act of 1964, his contributions to the American Society are remarkable. To list a few-

With front seats being reserved ‘For Whites Only!’ and the black people being forced to opt for back seats in any given bus, it was considered an obligation on the part of Black people to give up their bus seats so that white passengers could sit on those seats.

The instance where Rosa Parks denied to give up her seat during one such travel and got arrested, stimulated the famous movement of ‘Montgomery Bus Boycott’.

Martin Luther King then formed the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) . This organization comprised of black civil rights leaders and called for the existence of an integrated American Society. With the rise in cases of racial segregation and violence against black people, it became essential for people to raise their voices against this growing injustice and gave rise to the Civil Rights Movement.

One of the most pivotal achievements of Martin Luther King, Jr include the speech, ‘I Have A Dream’.

The Main Message Of ‘I Have A Dream’

Listed asone of the most iconic speeches in the world history, ‘I Have A Dream’ was centered around the themes of:

  • Racial justice and civil rights
  • Improvement in the socio-political and economic status of African-Americans
  • Equality and freedom for all
  • The idea of Great American Dreamcalling for a more accepting society

History and Importance Of The Speech- ‘I Have A Dream’

Aimed towards bringing an end to racial injustice in the American Society, a nation-wide March was organized on 28th August, 1963.

This Nation-wide March of 1963 stood out as one of the largest public demonstration march in the history of United States Of America.

Events Leading To ‘The Washington March Of 1963’

The year 1960s saw a great upheaval in terms of public demonstrations demanding for racial justice. In spite of this, there was an urgent need to organize one united demonstration against all forms of racial injustices because different protests were being organized for different sorts of racial injustices.

Due to this very reason, the prominent leaders came together and organized ‘Washington March of 1963’ in order to have an enhanced impact on the authorities as well as the mass population.

How Was ‘Washington March Of 1963’ Organized?

Drawing Public Speaking Lessons from 'I Have A Dream' (Speech Analysis) - Frantically Speaking (2)

The public demonstrations advocating for racial freedom and equality in employment opportunities came together and gave rise to ‘The Great March of 1963’.

Bearing in mind the significance of this march, it was organized at Lincoln Memorial in Washington to recall the legacy of Abraham Lincoln who first brought light to the lives of Black People by freeing them from slavery.

Holding a crowd of around 250,000 people, this March called for equality in employment opportunities and at the same time, called for civil rights of African-Americans.

Unlike most of the public demonstrations organized then and now, this march actually brought a paradigm shift in legislative terms with the passage of American Civil Rights Act in 1964 which abolished the practice of racial segregation and discrimination in all public spaces.

Not to forget, it gave birth to one of the most iconic speeches in the history of the world, that is, ‘I Have A Dream’.

‘I Have A Dream’- Factual Information

Duration Of The Speech16 Minutes
Date28th August, 1963
Venue The Lincoln Memorial, Washington
EventThe Nation-wide March for racial justice and civil rights
Impact of The SpeechPaved the way for the passage of American Civil Rights Act in 1964.


As you have now understood the crux of Martin Luther King’s Speech, let us analyze the speech through:

1. Speech Writing Lessons

2. Public Speaking Lessons

3. Speech Delivery Lessons

4. Audience Analysis

But, before we jump on to the public speaking lessons, we advise you to keep thespeech drafthandy for a better understanding.

1. Speech Writing Lessons from ‘I Have A Dream’

‘I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.’

– Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr

This quote sums up the core essence of the speech.

So, let’s now sum up the speech by studying the basic structure of the speech:

Beginning Of The Speech- The Question Of ‘What Have We Done So Far?’

Considering the fact that this speech was being delivered from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial,it began by paying a tribute to the Great American President, ‘Abraham Lincoln’ and his contributions to the American Society (particularly,the Emancipation Proclamationwhich brought an end to slavery).

As the speech progressed, King stressed on the fact that we musttake Lincoln’s legacy forward to bring an end to the racial segregationexisting in the then society.

Check out the article ‘How to start a speech- writing an interesting introduction‘ to ace the art of drafting an amazing introduction.

Body Of The Speech- ‘Where Do We Stand Now?’

This section dealt with the then present scenario which involvedan urgent addressal of the social injustices against the African-American community.

(Video) How To Become Better At Public Speaking Immediately

It brought to notice the social injustices like:

A) Police brutality,

B) Segregation,

C) The act of depriving the African-Americans from the right to vote and,

D) The discrimination on the basis of race in public domain.

Thus, MartinLutherKingurged his listeners to unite togetherin order to bring anend to a years-long history of racial discrimination and segregation.

Even while urging people to unite, heapproached people from all walks of life and different racesto continuedemanding for the long due rights of African-Americans in a non-violent way.

End Of The Speech- The Question Of ‘The Way Forward?’

This is themost intriguing, crucial and famous part of this speech.

In this section, heportrays the goals in the form of his own dreams.

This section showcases thedreams of racial justice, peace, harmony and brotherhoodin American Society.

Most of all, the dream of an American Society wherepeople are not judged based on thecolorof their skin but the content of their character.

We have listed a few hacks for you in the article ‘How to end your speech with maximum impact?‘.

Just like the television series ‘Dark’ where ‘the end is the beginning’, the speech ‘I Have A Dream’ laid the foundation stone for the beginning of the civil rights movement and influenced millions of mindsets.

In a nutshell, the speech can be best described by using the technique of ‘5Ws1H’:

What?It brought to notice the issue of racial segregation and discrimination
Who?against the African-Americans
Where?in the American Society
When?It called for an urgent need to address the situation in the then present scenario
Why?because of the the social injustices and the act of depriving them from the basic civil rights
How?by following non-violent means of protest

Title Your Speech Right!

The title ‘I Have A Dream’ arouses curiosity in our minds as to ‘what is this dream about?’ and since a dream is something we all share in common, you are now intrigued to know more.

Thus, the title of your speech helps the audience to decide whether they want to listen to you or not.

While an intriguing title can help you attract your audience, a boring title can result in you losing your audience.

But, hold on, the word ‘boring’ in itself sounds pretty daunting, isn’t it? So, how exactly do you go about titling your speech right?

The most important thing to remember here is to know who your target audience is and then, draft the title accordingly.

Well, let’s simplify the process of titling your speech by looking at ‘What makes a killer speech title?’:

Sense Of Intrigue

Just like the trailer of a great movie, the title needs to generate some intrigue in the minds of the audience. You wish to provide the audience with the theme of your speech but remember not to give the whole idea away. It’s the unanswered questions in the minds of the audience that will help you attract your audience.


Creating A Possible Conflict

Every time you watch a movie. there’s either a want or a conflict that drives the entire narrative and at times, puts you as a viewer in an uncomfortable space where you just can’t wait to know ‘what happens next’.

In a similar fashion, a conflicting title can put your audience in a sense of discomfort and will lure your audience in.

Thus, create a title that is conflicting but related with the core idea of your speech. When done right, the audience would naturally be drawn towards your speech and would want to know more!


Out-Of-The-World Title

Many a times, we come across something we haven’t ever heard of and are naturally drawn to know more about the same. The question of. ‘What exactly is it?‘, is powerful enough to make the audience curious.

Remember the first time you heard the phrase, ‘Orange is the new black’? Well, such thought-provoking titles keep the core essence of your speech alive in the minds of the audience for a long period of time.


Get Familiar With ‘The Unfamiliar’

Something unusual yet related to the speech can also assist you to hold attention of your audience. Thus, a title which sounds unfamiliar but in actuality, binds with the idea of your speech is just right for you to get the needful done.


2. Public Speaking Lessons from ‘I Have A Dream’

Spatio-Temporal Element

Drawing Public Speaking Lessons from 'I Have A Dream' (Speech Analysis) - Frantically Speaking (3)

Now, you might be thinking as to why is geography bothering you in a public speaking lesson, right?

Well, consider it to be that important lesson which you skip before an exam but it ends up playing a vital role during the assessment of your performance.

It states that you need tomention the significance of the place and the time at which you are delivering a particular speech.

For instance, while delivering the speech ‘I Have A Dream’, Martin Luther King mentioned:

  • the significance of the space from where he was delivering the speech, that is,The Lincoln Memorial.

Thus, he took a moment to pay a tribute to Abraham Lincoln before he dived into the essence of his speech.

  • For the element of time, he mentioned the significance of the date on which he was delivering the speech, that is, the event ofNation-wide marchbeing held in front of the Lincoln Memorial.

Keeping these things in view, include thespatio-temporal element at the beginning of your speech. This way, you will be able to show your audience that you realize the value that the place and the time holds.

But, how exactly do you go about incorporating this?

A) Begin Your Speech With A Quote

If the date holds the birthday of a renowned figure and you have been asked to mark the occasion with your speech, it’s ideal to start your speech by a quote given by that renowned figure.

B) Pay A Tribute To The Renowned Figure

You can do this by paying an ode to that figure. Ideally, by remembering his or her contributions to a given field.

Remember that this is exactly how Martin Luther King began his speech, ‘I Have A Dream, that is, by remembering Lincoln’s pivotal contributions to the United States of America.

Preparing The Skeleton Of Your Speech

Structuring your speech in the right order is really important.

Drawing Public Speaking Lessons from 'I Have A Dream' (Speech Analysis) - Frantically Speaking (4)

Follow the three-act structureof:

A) Ethos- The Beginning

The beginning of your speech contains ethos and itdictatethe success factor of your speech.

Butwhat exactly is ‘Ethos’?

Ethos, refers toestablishing your credibility as a speaker.The audience must first trust you. Only then, they can accept and respect your point of view on a given topic.

(Video) PUBLIC SPEAKING TRAINING Documentary 2019 | Improve your presentation skills

You cangain the trust of your audienceby using relatable references and personal experiences.

For example –

In the speech, ‘I Have A Dream’, Martin Luther King started by paying tribute to the great ‘Abraham Lincoln’ and referred to his contributions to the American Society. This made the audience realize that Martin Luther King respects the pivotal contributions to the American Society and thereby, established the trust factor.

Not to forget, keeping in view the short attention span of your audience, the introductory statement must be interesting enough to hold their attention.

Thus, you maystart your speech with a personal experience, a story, a quoteor as we mentioned in the above pointer, you may start bytaking a moment to showcase that you understand the value that the event and the venue holds.

Make sure you don’t begin your speech with something that doesn’t relate to the theme of your speech.

Here, you wish to provide your audience with abasic idea of your speech.

B) Logos- The Middle

This is the heart and soul of your speech.

Logos refers to the act of providing your audience with valid reasoning.

Just gaining the trust of your audience would not work.Making sensible and believable argumentsis just as important.

It provides the audience with a clear understanding of your speech. Here, to provide reasoning, youadd facts and tell a personal story by using the statement-problem-solution approach.

For example-

In the speech, ‘I Have A Dream’, Martin Luther King used the statement-problem-solution approach in the following way:

Statement: Purpose of the speech, that is, bringing racial justice in the American Society

Problem: Lists the various social injustices against the African-Americans. To name a few – police brutality, racial segregation and discrimination, the act of depriving them from the right to vote

Solution: Guides to follow the non-violent path to reinforce the lost justice and cites the ultimate goal of establishing a society where everybody is treated equally and judged on the basis of the content of their character and not the race.

C) Pathos- The End

Emotions or factual information? What do we tend to remember better?

Well, of course, we retain emotions for a comparatively longer time. Therefore, it is essential for you toappeal to the sentiments of your audience.

You have toincorporate emotions through body language, facial expressions and vocal variety throughout the course of your speechto support your statements with just the right emotions.

This way, the audience will associate a different emotion with each statement you make, enabling them to remember the content vividly.

So, in the concluding remarks, provide the audience with thegist of your speech supported by just the right emotionsso that they remember the core essence of your speech.

There’s a limit to the information that the human brain tends to retain. So, it’s essential that you sum up the crux of your speech at the end.

Try being as creative as you can.Use quotes, poetic and rhetorical devices to enhance the emotional impact.

For example-

In ‘I Have A Dream’, Martin Luther King concluded the speech by using repetition and popular culture references to portray his idea of a free and equal society. He used references like the Old Testament of Bible and the Patriotic Song – America : My Country, ‘Tis of Thee’. These references appealed to the sentiments of people.

Refer to the summary section of this blog to get a better understanding of the structure of ‘I Have A Dream’.

Related Article:The Ultimate Guide to Structuring a Speech

Persuasive Elements: Using Rhetorical Devices

Drawing Public Speaking Lessons from 'I Have A Dream' (Speech Analysis) - Frantically Speaking (5)

Theuse of rhetorical and poetic devices aids to the listening experienceof the audience.

Thus, it keeps your speech alive in the minds of the audience.

The speech, ‘I Have A Dream’ has plenty of rhetorical and poetic devices.

Let’s list a few of them:

A) Anaphora

This rhetorical device involves therepetition of a certain word or phrase at the beginning of consecutive statements.

When you repeat a word or a phrase twice or thrice for that matter, theaudience anticipates further repetitionand gets engrossed with the content of your speech.

The use of this technique marks a swifttransition of the speech format from prose to poetryand your speech sounds even more interesting.

The Impact It Holds

It brings a poetic effect to your speech and persuades your audience by appealing to their sentiments. Repetition guides the audiences’ minds to give due importance to the message you are trying to convey.

It works best in persuasive speeches as it directly appeals to the audiences’ emotions. This helps to inculcate a change in the mindsets of your audience and persuade them into believing your point of view on a given topic.

How To Incorporate ‘Anaphora’ In Your Speech?

Make a decision as to which section is the most crucial in the context of your speech. Once you have decided this, pen down a phrase by referring to your personal experiences. After this step, include that phrase at the beginning of the consecutive statements.

Use ‘anaphora’ as a part of either introductory or concluding remarks of your statement because both introductory and concluding remarks demand you to catch the attention of your audience.


Let’s understand this with reference to the speech, ‘I Have A Dream’:

I have a dreamthat one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.

I have a dreamthat one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dreamthat one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

Martin Luther King, Jr included the above-mentioned lines as part of his concluding remarks. Thus, it created a lasting effect in the minds of the audience.

B) Metaphor

This rhetorical device cites animplied comparisonbetween the actual idea and similar thought.

This way, the audience gets abetter idea about the intensity and relevance of the idea.

(Video) 7 Ways To Teach Public Speaking To Kids

The Impact It Holds

A metaphor helps in painting a picture alive in minds of the audience and enables them to make a comparison between the actual idea and similar thought. This way, they understand the relevance better.

It works best in descriptive speeches as it helps you to convey the message in a simple concise way and thereby, enables you to break down the complex information into simple information.

How To Incorporate ‘Metaphor’ In Your Speech?

Decide on the complex elements of your speech and think of relating them to a similar thought or experience. Remember that you do not want to break the simpler elements but the complex ones. Once you have found a similar thought or experience, make a comparison and join the two sentences.


Let’s understand this by citing two metaphors from the speech ‘I Have A Dream’:

  • ‘It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their captivity.’
  • ‘Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked “insufficient funds.’

C) Parallelism

This rhetorical device takes placewhen phrases in a sentence have similar grammatical structure.

This enhances the listening experience of the audience byproviding a rhythmto the speech because let’s face it – we all love rhythms.

The Impact It Holds

It makes the idea memorable and easy to remember. Since it has a rhythm, it appeals to the emotions of the audience and holds their attention effectively.

Parallelism works best for persuasive speeches as it enforces your idea effectively in a way that moves the audience.

How To Incorporate ‘Parallelism’ In Your Speech?

All you have to do here is to assign a rhythm to your speech. That’s it!

To assign a rhythm, look for repetitive grammatical elements in your speech and put them together efficiently. It could be verbs, sounds, nouns, anything.


Let’s state an instance of parallelism from the speech, ‘I Have A Dream’:

‘With this faith we will be able towork together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.’

Related Article:Getting Your ‘Wordsworth’: Poetry in Public Speaking

Always Keep It ‘Real’!

As it has been rightly said, ‘It’s easier said than done’.

Similarly, while delivering a speech,make sure that you are not exaggerating, overpromising or feeding any lies to your audience.

Many a times, we get so engrossed in putting forward the solutions that we often don’ttake into account the depiction of reality and the obstaclesin the way of achieving a particular goal.

The use of this technique shows that you are open to a two-way communication model bycaring for the feedback of the audience.

The audience needs to know that you understand and care about their situation even while putting forth your opinions.

For instance, while motivating the citizens to unite together and walk on the path of racial justice, Martin Luther King said and I quote-

I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from narrow jail cells. Some of you have come from areas where your quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive.’

This statement made the audience reaffirm their faith in Martin Luther King and helped him to establish his credibility as an orator.

Popular Culture References

Drawing Public Speaking Lessons from 'I Have A Dream' (Speech Analysis) - Frantically Speaking (6)

Toestablish the relatability quotient, it’s important for you to state a few popular culture references.

Your audienceneeds to relate to you in order to trust and respect your ideas.

Another reason for you to incorporate popular culture references lies in the complexity of certain facts or instances.

Youneed to break down the complex elementsin your speech with popular culture references so that the audience can understand it.

A) How Does It Make Your Speech Relevant?

Incorporating popular culture references to your speech is a hack that most of the public speakers use but don’t speak about it.

That’s mainly because popular culture references makes your speech relatable, fun, interesting and make your audience believe that you get them. Just the presence of thought ‘Ah, I totally relate to this, this speaker understands me’ in the minds of the audience can establish you as a great orator.

In addition to this, referring trending topics and popular references show that you chose to stay updated with the current affairs, just to convey your thoughts through this speech.

So, this way, it adds to your credibility as a speaker and at the same time, shows the amount of dedication and efforts on your side.

B) Relevance With Respect To ‘I Have A Dream’

When we study this with reference to ‘I Have A Dream’, we find a few interesting observations:

  • The tone of the speech sounds like a biblical sermon
  • The speech has a number of popular culture references like
    • Old Testament of the Bible
    • The patriotic song – ‘America: My Country,‘Tisof Thee’
  • To explain how African-Americans have been denied the basic rights, he took help of a ‘bank situation’

-Well, irrespective of the race people belong to, everybody has had a similar banking experience

-So, he compared the denial of rights with ‘the act of cashing a bad check’

3. Speech Delivery Lessons from ‘I Have A Dream’

To gain the trust of your audience and establish yourself as a credible orator, youmust sound confident while delivering your speech.

But, how do you transform yourself from being an anxious speaker to a confident one?

Well, here are a few tips for you:

Right Body Language Establishes Your Credibility As An Orator

While delivering a speech, non-verbal communication is just as significant. It helps in establishing credibility and trust.

Keep a few things about body language in mind while delivering a speech:

A) Maintain a straight posture with your arms on side. This gives out an indication to the audience that you are open to a two-way form of communication as well as interested in listening to the feedback of the audience.

B) Use right hand gestures to enhance the impact of your speech.

C) Right facial expressions aid to the narrative of your speech by attaching a sense of emotion to it.

We wrote an article on ‘The Do’s and Don’ts of body language’. Check it out to get acquainted with the body language guide to public speaking!

Set Pitch And Tonality Of Your Speech

Pitch of your voice can help you govern the mood.

While stating a positive fact, sounding enthusiastic and confident will result in a happy emotion. Similarly, while stating a negative and sad fact, sounding empathetic will result in a sad emotion.

For instance, while citing the injustices against the African-Americans, Martin Luther King sounded really empathetic. The extent of his sadness towards these injustices was visible in the form of voice tonality and facial expressions.

This gesture moved the audience emotionally and they started cheering for him, all the way more.

(Video) 3 Secrets for Powerful Public Speaking to Become a World Class Speaker | Eric Edmeades

To ace this technique, check out

Practice Is The Key To A Successful Speech

This is something that can break or make your performance.

Practice as much as you can. Before your performance, either you can practice in front of the mirror or record yourself to self-assess your performance. This will help you realize the possible scope for improvement and you will be able to make required changes to your presentation techniques.

To get familiar with simple yet effective processes to practice your speech, read ‘Simple Hacks to practice for your speech’ to get some ideas!

Importance Of Vocal Variety

There’s a thin line between being expressive and being dramatic. While delivering any particular speech, try being expressive but at the same time, avoid being dramatic as it might intend an over-exaggeration from your end.

Thus, this lesson on vocal variety is really important for you!

Effective Pauses And Voice Modulation

In the speech ‘I Have A Dream’, King employed effective pauses and voice modulation to stress on the important elements of his speech such as delivery of the consequent phrases of ‘I Have A Dream that one day…’ Here, there is an effective pause after the phrase, ‘I Have A Dream’.

It clearly gives out the message that given the intensity of the issue, justice would take time to prevail but one day, the shared dream would become a reality.

To highlight the key phrases of your speech, make sure that you are loud enough so that the audience can register the important facts. In his speech, King highlighted key phrases by being just adequately loud.

Remember not to be extremely loud as it will result in a ‘noise’ and not a ‘loud voice’

Keep The Right Pace

While on one hand, a fast pace would reduce the understandability quotient of your speech. On the other hand, a slow pace would disinterest your audience.

So, maintaining just the right pace is crucial in public speaking.

In the speech ‘I Have A Dream’, King delivered the content with a duration of 16 minutes. However, if you look closely at the transcript of the speech, you would feel that the duration could be shortened.

But, here’s the catch! King was mindful of the wide audience and impact he wished to make. So, he deliberately maintained a certain pace so that the audience could understand each and every bit of the speech without getting lost.

4. Audience Analysis of ‘I Have A Dream’

The imminent audience of the speech, ‘I Have A Dream’ encompassed a gathering of 250,000 people at Lincoln Memorial, Washington.

Apart from this, millions of people listened to Martin Luther King as he delivered his speech from the steps of Lincoln Memorial. This was possible because of the live telecast of the speech via radio and television.

The speech ‘I Have A Dream’ continues to stand relevant, even in today’s times, because of its dynamic audience. Anyone who seeks to stand for equality and freedom comprises the audience of this iconic speech.

Drawing Public Speaking Lessons from 'I Have A Dream' (Speech Analysis) - Frantically Speaking (7)

Taking into account the varied audience of the speech, King sustained a certain level of simplicity while delivering the speech ‘I Have A Dream’.

An issue as complex and sensitive as ‘Racial Justice’ was simplified in such a way that even a toddler could understand the content and have a takeaway from that speech.

Molded in the form of a story for easy understanding, ‘I Have A Dream’ limited the use of jargons and explained the content in layman’s terms by sparing the complex historical details in order to reach every strata of the audience.

King directed the audience towards important parts of the speech through effective pauses and voice modulation.

While maintaining the overall tone of the speech similar to that of a biblical sermon (something that people are used to listening in their daily lives), the audience could easily pay attention to the idea he had to convey.

By breaking down the complex content with the use of relatable experiences like ‘cashing a bad check’ and painting the ideas alive in form of metaphors and simile, the content of the speech was understood by almost everyone. Thus, it resulted in a lasting impact.

Figuring out the possible obstacles in the way of protests, King stressed on the fact that even though the great changes happen gradually, one must remain consistent in terms of his beliefs and continue fighting for justice to prevail.

Most importantly, King catered his speech to people from every race and called for a ‘united stand for justice’.

Impact Of ‘I Have A Dream’

The speech had a lasting impact on the minds of its listeners by drawing resemblance with each and every global citizen.

Let’s list a few legislative changes brought by this speech

1. The Passage of Civil Rights Act in 1964.

As a result of Civil Rights Act, racial segregation in public spaces ended up to a larger extent.

To acknowledge a few- racial segregation in educational institutions, healthcare and public transportation reached a standstill.

2. The Passage of National Voting Rights Act in 1965

With the introduction of National Voting Rights Act, racial segregation legally ended in America.

When the adequate laws are not in place, the situation worsens and so was the case in 1950s. Thus, this act put the people at ease with a hope for a better future.

3. Impact on Kennedy Administration

The then President John F. Kennedy watched the speech on television and was really moved by King’s powerful words.

After the Washington March, the prominent leaders who organized this march were invited to the White House to meet President Kennedy. Most evidently, the speech helped President Kennedy to gain the popular opinion for his civil rights bill.

Interestingly, all these developments did not spur any discouragement from the White People as King always emphasized for unity and called out both black and white people to work in harmony towards equality.

Because, after all, we all share the same dream, that is, the creation of a more accepting and welcoming society.

In addition to this, every now and then, the speech is being quoted by great speakers to enhance the impact of their respective speeches.

Famous Quotes From ‘I Have A Dream’

  • I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.
  • I say to you today, my friends, that in spite of the difficulties and frustrations of the moment, I still have a dream.
  • I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal’
  • We cannot walk alone. And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall march ahead. We cannot turn back.

Other Iconic Speeches To Draw Inspiration From

Gettysburg Address – Abraham Lincoln

You can find the transcript here.

We Shall Fight On The Beaches

You can find the transcript here.

The Audacity of Hope – Barack Obama

You can find the transcript here.

Final Thoughts

It would only be fair to say that this speech led America to a pathway towards racial justice and reduced racism up to a larger extent.

Most evidently,

  • The well-structured format
  • Portrayal of a clear and concise vision
  • Brilliant presentation techniques

owe to the popularity of the speech, ‘I Have A Dream’.

Apart from that, this speech is indeed a great source of learning! Just by imbibing inspiration from this speech, a speaker can ace his presentation techniques and a writer can master the research processes involved in writing an amazing article from the scratch.

Be it the Civil Rights Movement of the past or the Black Lives Matter Movement of the present, this speech continues to come out as a major source of inspiration for the positive developments in the society.

To sum it all up, this speech inspired the global citizens towards a significant paradigm shift from a segregated society to a society devoid of racial discrimination and segregation.

(Video) The 7 secrets of the greatest speakers in history | Richard Greene | TEDxOrangeCoast

In this blog, we analyzed Martin Luther King’s ‘I Have A Dream’ and tried to draw public speaking lessons from the very same speech.

We hope that this blog aids in your public speaking skills by drawing inspiration from ‘I Have A Dream’.


What is the public speaking analysis of I Have a Dream? ›

Throughout this piece, King engages with themes of freedom, justice, and the future. He acknowledges the past and present as a way of alluding to the promise of the future. His determination that no one rest until all people are truly equal comes through in his calls for justice and freedom.

What lesson is learned from I Have a Dream speech? ›

Pursue your dreams.

King comes from his historic 1963 speech: "I have a dream." Dreams are powerful, and can serve as great motivators - but they are only meaningful if we act on them. How many people let their dreams die along with them because they feared making an effort to pursue that for which they wished?

What are the 3 main ideas in the I Have a Dream speech? ›

Martin Luther King, Jr.'s speech is about legal equality, economic equality, and social equality.

What techniques did Martin Luther King use in his speech? ›

King drew on a variety of rhetorical techniques to “Educate, Engage, & Excite” TM his audiences – e.g., alliteration, repetition, rhythm, allusion, and more – his ability to capture hearts and minds through the creative use of relevant, impactful, and emotionally moving metaphors was second to none.

What are two examples of repetition in the I Have a Dream speech? ›

Consider these commonly repeated words:
  • freedom (20 times)
  • we (30 times), our (17 times), you (8 times)
  • nation (10 times), america (5 times), american (4 times)
  • justice (8 times) and injustice (3 times)
  • dream (11 times)
Jan 18, 2009

What lessons can we learn from Martin Luther? ›

7 Life Lessons: Martin Luther
  • Bring the truth to light. Essentially Martin Luther wrote these theses; against the Catholic use of indulgences. ...
  • On fear. The less love we have in our hearts; the more fear we have: ...
  • Heaven, hell, purgatory. ...
  • Works of love. ...
  • Build things with my own money. ...
  • Follow my own conscience. ...
  • Necessity.

What is the purpose of the I Have a Dream speech quizlet? ›

Martin Luther King Jr.'s main purpose in 'I have a Dream' speech is.... To urge all people to peacefully work together for racial equality.

Where was the purpose of the I Have a Dream speech? ›

On August 28, 1963, at the March on Washington, Martin Luther King Jr. delivered a speech entitled "I Have a Dream". The purpose of Martin Luther King 's speech was to make Americans of all racial backgrounds aware of the racial, civil, and economic inequality that was taking place in the United States.

What are 3 rhetorical devices in I Have a Dream Speech? ›

King uses the rhetorical devices of personification, metaphor, and symbolism in his "I Have a Dream" speech.

What was a major impact of the I Have a Dream Speech? ›

Popularly known as the "I have a Dream" speech, the words of Martin Luther King, Jr. influenced the Federal government to take more direct actions to more fully realize racial equality.

What was the cultural impact of the I Have a Dream Speech? ›

King gave the speech "I Have a Dream," which was a powerful call for racial equality and justice. A growing awareness of the significance of African American culture and the necessity of racial justice in the United States was one of the most significant cultural shifts brought about by the "I Have a Dream" speech.

What is the most famous line in I have a dream? ›

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by their character.

What is hyperbole in I have a dream speech? ›

Hyperbole which is an exaggerated claim or statement is used by Martin Luther King in paragraph 1 of the speech text stating “ I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, and every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and ...

How does MLK use tone in his speech? ›

Dr King makes use of emotive words, his tone is undulating and his language rich in visual imagery. His aim is to clearly outline but also to persuade us to change our minds.

What type of tone did MLK use in his speech? ›

Answer and Explanation: The tone of the I Have a Dream Speech is buoyant and hopeful and all with a sense of determination. King begins by saying he is "happy to join with you today" in a demonstration for freedom, so prized in the US yet not fully matured for all at the time.

What influenced MLK to write his speech? ›

Even the exalted “I Have A Dream” repetition was inspired by a fellow preacher, Prathia Hall, an activist who led a prayer group in Sasser, Georgia on September 10, 1962, the holy ground where the Mount Olive Baptist Church stood a day prior. It was burned to the ground by the Ku Klux Klan.

What is an example of imagery in the I have a dream speech? ›

Hills and Mountains. Throughout “I Have a Dream,” King uses imagery of hills and mountains to invoke the future of the civil rights movement. Just as climbing a mountain requires enduring pain and difficulty in order to reach… Tanner, Alexandra.

What is the simile in the I have a dream speech? ›

In his historic “I Have a Dream” speech during the 1963 March on Washington, King declared: “We will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.” That famous simile inspired the theme of Metropolitan State University of Denver's 2020 MLK Peace Breakfast celebrating ...

What is an example of analogy in the I have a dream speech? ›

The speech begins with a financial analogy: African-Americans are said to have "come to our nation's capital to cash a check." The Founders signed a "promissory note" to "Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness" and the country had defaulted on this with "insufficient funds." Therefore, the people were marching to ...

What is the main significance of Martin Luther? ›

Martin Luther, a 16th-century monk and theologian, was one of the most significant figures in Christian history. His beliefs helped birth the Reformation—which would give rise to Protestantism as the third major force within Christendom, alongside Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy.

What was the purpose of the speech I Have a Dream by making an essay? ›

The purpose of the speech was to address the issues of segregation and racism as a whole. King speaks about the issues of racism and segregation in America during the 1960's. He encourages the use of non-violent protests and to fight for equality to help America solve the issue.

Who was the target of I Have a Dream speech? ›

Aimed at the entire nation, King's main purpose in this speech was to convince his audience to demand racial justice towards the mistreated African Americans and to stand up together for the rights afforded to African American under the Constitution.

What is the author trying to achieve through his speech? ›

What is the author trying to achieve through his speech? Answer: The author is trying to achieve the support of the listeners in the freedom struggle for Negroes by his speech. He also wants to attract the listener towards the piteous condition of the Negroes.

How does Martin Luther King impact the world today? ›

MLK helped bring about the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Each of these bills helped African Americans access civil rights across the country. King's speeches and writings allow us to continue learning from his beliefs and practices today.

How do you start a dream speech? ›

Good Morning everyone, respected teachers and my dear friends, I am here today to speak about a rather interesting topic that is Dreams. First, let me start by asking everyone, how many of you had a dream last night. Do you remember what you dreamt of? If you do remember, were you surprised about what the dream was?

What are the 3 rhetorical devices used to persuade? ›

Aristotle taught that a speaker's ability to persuade an audience is based on how well the speaker appeals to that audience in three different areas: logos, ethos, and pathos.

What is the historical context of the I Have a Dream Speech? ›

An important historical context for this speech is that the abolition of slavery did not end racism in the United States. Also, even with the Declaration of Independence stating that all men are made equal, the American leadership did not necessarily recognize the need for equality for black Americans.

What event led to the I Have a Dream Speech? ›

Here are 10 facts about the march and the events that led to the speech. 1. The official event was called the “March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.” On June 11, 1963, President John F. Kennedy made a nationally televised address calling for a drive for more civil rights.

What was the most important quote from the I have a dream speech? ›

"Out of the mountain of despair, a stone of hope."

From the "I Have A Dream" speech in Washington, DC on August 28, 1963. The quotation serves as the theme of the overall design of the memorial, which realizes the metaphorical mountain and stone.

What are 5 famous quotes? ›

Famous quotes in English
That's one small step for a man, a giant leap for mankind.Neil ArmstrongEnglish
The love of money is the root of all evil.the BibleGreek
The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.Franklin D. RooseveltEnglish
The truth will set you free.the BibleGreek
54 more rows

What is the summary of I have a dream? ›

In his “I Have a Dream” speech, minister and civil rights activist Martin Luther King Jr. outlines the long history of racial injustice in America and encourages his audience to hold their country accountable to its own founding promises of freedom, justice, and equality.

What is the irony of hyperbole? ›

Hyperbole is a marker of irony that not only directs the hearer's attention to the ironic contrast, but also increases the magnitude of that ironic contrast. Imagine it is raining. The ironic contrast is greater if you say “Oh my gosh, it's the sunniest day of my entire life!” rather than simply “Nice weather …”.

What is 1 example of a hyperbole sentence? ›

He is older than the hills. I will die if she asks me to dance. She is as big as an elephant! I'm so hungry I could eat a horse.

How did the I Have a Dream speech affect the audience? ›

This speech helped solidify African Americans and white people to stand for equal rights. By King standing up and speaking out for what he believed in, a sense of unity between all people has been formed.

Is the I Have a Dream speech a persuasive speech? ›

Martin Luther King's “I have a dream” address falls under the broad genre of non-fiction persuasive prose in the form of a speech. It is broadly targeted at all American citizens; black and white civil rights activists, as well as members of society who are against the Civil Rights Movement.

How did the audience react to the I Have a Dream speech? ›

The reaction of the audience to the speech was electric. The crowd comprised almost a quarter million civil rights activists and millions of people on television. King's speech was very well received and considered a turning point in the civil rights movement.

What tone does Martin Luther King use in his speech? ›

Answer and Explanation: The tone of the I Have a Dream Speech is buoyant and hopeful and all with a sense of determination. King begins by saying he is "happy to join with you today" in a demonstration for freedom, so prized in the US yet not fully matured for all at the time.

What appeals does MLK use in his speech? ›

Martin Luther King's speech “I've Been to the Mountaintop” combines all three forms of appeal: ethos, pathos, and logos. This means that the speaker appeals to trust and authority, emotions, and logic to construct a more compelling case in favor of the protests in Memphis and the Civil Rights Movement.

Who was the target audience for I Have a Dream? ›

Thirdly the target audience of Martin Luther King's speech is intended for the black and white American public.

How does Martin Luther King use rhetoric in his speech? ›

King uses two main techniques, (appropriate) repetition and the rule of threes, to convey emotion through his rhetoric. And while everyone has noticed the first one – it's how the speech is known – few have remarked on the second.

How can words inspire change? ›

Words give meaning and promote unity. The words you use inspire others to participate in the future that is promised, and the change that is aspired to.

What are the tips you observe in the speech delivery? ›

Speech delivery practice
  • Stand tall—do not hold or lean on the podium.
  • Come out from behind the podium during the speech. Makes an impact especially at the conclusion of the speech. ...
  • Use gestures. Be sure gestures can be seen.
  • Make eye contact. It is easy with a podium to look down especially if you have notes or outlines.


1. We can help you master public speaking - Chris Anderson
2. How to speak so that people want to listen | Julian Treasure
3. Public Speaking | Public Speaking Techniques | Public Speaking Training | English Speaking Skills
(Pebbles live)
4. The truth behind your fear of public speaking | Mel Robbins
(Mel Robbins)
5. Martin Luther King Jr’s “I HAVE A DREAM” was a fluke #shorts
(Frantically Speaking)
6. 6 Hand Gestures For Effective Public Speaking & Presentation ✊👆👌🤘 | Communication Skills Training
(Skillopedia - Skills for the real world)


Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Pres. Carey Rath

Last Updated: 11/27/2023

Views: 6114

Rating: 4 / 5 (41 voted)

Reviews: 80% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Pres. Carey Rath

Birthday: 1997-03-06

Address: 14955 Ledner Trail, East Rodrickfort, NE 85127-8369

Phone: +18682428114917

Job: National Technology Representative

Hobby: Sand art, Drama, Web surfing, Cycling, Brazilian jiu-jitsu, Leather crafting, Creative writing

Introduction: My name is Pres. Carey Rath, I am a faithful, funny, vast, joyous, lively, brave, glamorous person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.