I spend a lot of time explaining to professional communicators (including speechwriters) what makes speeches special. When to bother with something as inefficient and inconvenient and disruptive as a speech … and when to communicate by another, less intrusive method.
Leaders give speeches essentially for emotional purposes, use them to spiritually galvanize audiences, connect them not just to themselves but to one another.
But leaders aren’t the only ones who give speeches. Citizens do, too.
One of the persuasive aspects of a speech is the physical courage it requires to stand before a group of your fellow citizens and deliver it—like Louisiana Walmart employee Beth McGrath did the other day.
Had McGrath delivered it as a serial Twitter rant or even a departing salvo on the company Yammer … it wouldn’t have had a hudredth of the power it has as you watch her deliver it with shaking hands but in steady voice, while you wonder whether she’s going to be tackled by a company security guard before she finishes.
Whether it’s an act of corporate disobedience like this, or just a convention-challenging speech at a business conference, a big part of the unique credibility a speech confers is the required courage to stand and deliver, knowing you are so badly outnumbered, and so physically vulnerable to physical attack, verbal censure, or public humiliation by mass silence.
Long live the dangerous speech.
And people like Beth from Electronics.