It can be said without any doubt that all major world shaking events have been brought about by the power of the spoken words. The art of Oratory or public speaking is no doubt a gifted talent but it also requires the conviction, knowledge and the confidence. Many famous orators have influenced the course of the history of the mankind, whether it was for the good or for the bad. Here, we present a list of top 10 most powerful public speakers who lived and shaped the history of 20th century.
1. John F. Kennedy(1917-1963)
John F. Kennedy was the thirty-fifth president of the United States from 1961-63. His speeches were very powerful and inspirational. His speech We Choose To Go To Moon is considered as one of the most influential to persuade the Americans for the space expedition to moon.
You can see this speech here:
His speech at the Berlin wall in 1963 can also be considered as one of the finest pieces of oratory. Just 22 months back Soviet Union had built the Berlin wall. Kennedy’s message to the west Berliners was to assure them of US support against the threat of the communist block in the east.
2. Martin Luther King Jr.(1929 –1968)
Martin Luther was a black civil right activist in the United States who fought against the racial discrimination all his life. He always believed in non-violence and respect for the humanity, irrespective of color, race or creed. His most famous speech is I Have a Dream. It was delivered at the Abraham Lincoln’s Memorial. This 17 minutes long speech was a message of racial equality and respect of humanity. Due to its powerful message it got Presidential Medal of Freedom in the year 1997.
3. Adolf Hitler (1889-1945)
Everyone knows the name of Adolf Hitler. He is considered as one of the most evil mans in history. However, Hitler was an unlikely person to achieve such power. He had a deprived childhood. He dreamt of becoming an architect. Instead, he became a politician. The man tool through which he achieved such extreme power was his powerful oratory. He had an incredible ability to hold an audience of millions in the palms of his hand. His charisma generated a pseudo-religious following among the German people. An example of his oratory is this inaugural address as chancellor of Germany:
4. Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965)
Winston Churchill was the British Prime Minister from 1940 to 1945 and then again from 1951 to 1955. He understood very well his talent of oratory that’s why once he wrote, “of all the talents bestowed on men, none is so precious as the gift of oratory.” When the world 2 started and France was defeated within the matter of weeks he gave his most inspirational speech, famous as We shall fight them on the beaches. This speech demonstrated his resolve never to lay down arms. Indeed, when London was suffering from worst bombardment during the Blitz of WW2, his speeches motivated the British to Keep on fighting.
5. Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto(1928-1979)
Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto was Pakistani President from 1971-73 and Prime Minister from 1973-77. He was one of the most influential Pakistani politicians who used his mesmerizing speeches and the socialist message to seduce the Pakistani masses into voting him. His legacy continues to this day with his daughter and grandchildren doing politics in his name.
6. Ronald Reagan (1911 – 2004)
Ronald Regan was a Hollywood actor and also an American politician. He served as the Governor of California and later as 40th President of United Nations. Due to his ability to connect to his audiences he was named as the “Great Communicator”. His most mesmerizing speech was Tear down this wall. This speech was delivered at Brandenburg Gate gate of Berlin on June 12, 1987. During the speech he challenged then Soviet Premier Mikhail Gorbachev to destroy berlin wall.
7. Nelson Mandela (1918-2013)
Nelson Mandela was the famous political activist from South Africa. All his life he fought against the apartheid and the racial discrimination. He was imprisoned in 1962 by then apartheid Government of South Africa on the charges of sabotage. He spent the 27 important years of his life as political prisoner. Despite all this, he never deviated from his belief in the non-violent means of struggle. Due to continuous struggle of his party white minority rule in South Africa ended. He served as a president of South Africa from 1994-1999. His inaugural speech is considered to be one of the best.
8. Leon Trotsky (1879-1940)
Leon Trotsky was a famous Marxist revolutionary and the founder of the red army. During the communist revolution in Russia, he became famous for his intellect and fiery speeches. The secret of his charisma was his sincere conviction about the ideals of the Marxist communism. He was considered second only to Lenin. But after Lenin’s death, he was sidelined by the political maneuvering of more ruthless Stalin. He was later exiled in Mexico where he was assassinated by the orders of Stalin.
9. Fidel Castro (1926-present)
Fidel Castro was born in 1926 in Cuba, He is well known all around the world because of his communist revolution in Cuba. He served as Prime Minister of Cuba from 1959 to 1976 and later as president from 1976 to 2008. He is considered as to be one of the most influential orators who inspired loyalty among his followers.
10. Jimmy Jones(1931-1978)
James Warren Jones is well known as an American religious leader. He created his own pseudo-religious cult Peoples Temple. He gained notoriety because of the mass suicide committed by him along with his cult member in 1978 in Jonestown, Guyana. In all 909 of his cult members died including 300 children. It was due to his mesmerizing skills and powerful oratory that he was able to inspire the blind following among his cult members.