Franklin D. Roosevelt

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Student Question

What technique made Franklin D. Roosevelt's speech at the US Naval Academy effective?

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In addressing the new graduates at the United States Naval Academy, President Roosevelt communicated simply and openly, talking directly to the new Naval officers about the ways in which they should strive to relate to others. He used concrete examples to explain unacceptable behavior and ways in which positive and respectful relationships were expressed.

Esprit de corps, pride of profession... when it is carried to the point of assuming that only the holder of an Annapolis commission or diploma, or the possessor of a college degree, is a valid member of the aristocracy of life... becomes a hindrance instead of a help to your service, to the Government and to your fellow citizens.

President Roosevelt's speech was sincere, to the point, and easy to understand. He addressed the situations the new officers would be encountering upon leaving the Naval Academy with succinct, clear advice and an appeal to the pride of the graduates as representatives of their fellow citizens.

think of those people not as an abstract, theoretical mass, but as one hundred and twenty millions of men and women and children in forty-eight States—on sea coast, on plain and among the mountains; in city, in village and on farm; rich people, people of moderate means, poor people; people employed and people out of jobs. You represent them all.

President Roosevelt was a master of communicating as if he were talking directly to one individual person, not a large crowd. It's still one of the most effective techniques for any speech-maker.

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