Dr. Martin Luther King was a very gifted public speaker and his speeches are used in oratory classes around the English speaking world. A major attribute that Dr. King displayed was an ability to connect to his audience. His speeches had a reciprocal quality in that the audiences drew energy and passion from him as he drew energy from his audience. The authenticity of his speeches and his ability to provide context for his work made this relationship with his audience possible.
In a number of King’s speeches, he discusses his own struggles and how these struggles have impacted him on a personal level. He was also a master of context, providing stories from history and the Bible that parallel the struggle that faced African-Americans in America. The context and autobiographical nature of his speeches allowed for a certain connection with the crowd that was authentic and real.
Although King was very practiced and prepared for his speeches, the pace and cadence of Dr. King’s speeches were what allowed him to arouse the audience’s attention. He always started his speeches with a slow, calculated pace. As the speeches progressed and the audiences were hooked, he would deliberately add more animation and energy to further draw in the assemblage. By the end of the dialogue, as he was ready to deliver his most important points, the audience was at an almost fever pitch. The witnesses of his speeches were left feeling motivated and that they had been a part of something larger than themselves.