10 Best Speeches in the 2000s (Part 2)

10 Best Speeches in the 2000s (Part 2)

Four years after we hyped ourselves up to deliver a speech with Eminem’s “Lose Yourself” in 10 Best Speeches in the 2000s Part 1, we now enter 2008 with five amazing speeches under our belt. From those five speeches, we learned that clear and engaging content is essential, energy is driven by good volume, steady eye contact makes all the difference, and authenticity is the key to memorability. 

Nerves don’t disappear overnight, they take a ton of work and practice to overcome! So let’s take a look at five more speeches from the late 2000s to cement these skills, nail our speech, and exit this decade with a bang. 

Jill Bolte Taylor, My Stroke of Insight, 2008

In this TedTalk, Neuroanatomist Jill Bolte Taylor discusses her personal journey with brain function after having a rare stroke. This experience taught her about the difference in brain hemispheres and how we as humans can choose how we lead our lives. She continues to work on this in her career. 

What went well: 

  • Personal story as attention-getter upfront.
  • Memorable and impactful use of props – she pulled out an actual human brain!
  • Doesn’t dumb down the content – Breaks down left brain and right brain concepts clearly and with no jargon.
  • Motivating call to action at the end.

Even Better If: 

  • Made the cadence authentic to her – has a classic ‘TedTalk’ pace that makes it sound like a parody.

Elizabeth Gilbert, Your Creative Genius, 2009

Known for her 2006 memoir – Eat, Pray, Love – Elizabeth Gilbert, journalist and bestselling author, takes to the TedTalk stage to ponder the perception of creative genius. She questions the stereotype of the tormented artist and talks about how we should battle that perception by thinking of creative genius as an external force, not an internal ability. 

What Went Well: 

  • Authentic – tone feels very conversational.
  • Brings humor in through her honesty – VERY challenging and risky. Humor is quite subjective. 

Even Better If: 

  • Unlocked/relaxed her gestures – locked makes her look more nervous.
  • Less pacing back and forth – becomes a bit distracting.  

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, The Danger of a Single Story, 2009

In this TedTalk, Nigerian novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie speaks on the development of her writer’s voice over time, warning about the dangers of only hearing a single story of people, places, or things. She highlights many misunderstandings, both her own and other’s, to convey the message that knowing there is never a single story gives us paradise. 

What went well:

  • Great hook at the beginning – grabbed my attention!
  • Beautiful pace – not too fast, not too slow, just right – engages with ease. 
  • Repetition of key points – hard to walk away not knowing what she wanted to convey.
  • Maintained common thread of her growing up and encountering single-story situations.

Even Better If:

  • Picked a few people to make eye contact with instead of moving her gaze around so often (down, up, around) – it breaks the focus. 
  • Practiced increasing volume and vocal variety – nervous quiver in voice and at times speaks in monotone.
  • Added gestures or intentional movement to liven up her delivery. 

Simon Sinek, How Great Leaders Inspire Action, 2009

Simon Sinek, author and motivational speaker, delivers a thought-provoking TedTalk, proposing the idea that people purchase and follow others who believe what they themselves believe. 

What Went Well:

  • Good hook. Brings in different examples off the bat (Apple, MLK, Wright Brothers)
  • Inspiring tone and good energy – his passion comes out strongly.
  • Eye contact is good, stable and delivers one thought to each section of the audience.
  • Uses Apple example as a common thread throughout the presentation. 

Even Better If: 

  • Slowed down the pace a bit so listeners had time to digest points. 
  • Planted his feet and stopped pacing to keep the focus on him and not his motion.
  • Didn’t have his back turned to the audience when whiteboarding – better to break from the visual periodically to address the audience with key points. 
  • Leaves visual alone when he’s done using it – frequently points to it or leans on it when he shouldn’t.

Dan Pink, The Puzzle of Motivation, 2009

In this TedTalk, New York Times bestselling author and business thought leader, Dan Pink breaks down motivation and how external reward frequently leads to underperformance.He makes a case for autonomy in the workplace using various examples to show just how impactful the results can be.

What went well: 

  • Great hook at the beginning – draws you right in. 
  • Good pacing – allows for pauses to digest information. 
  • Has great energy – good intonation and excitement comes through in his voice – very conversational and human.

Even Better If: 

  • Removed ums as he’s thinking and pausing.
  • Maintained steady gaze – eyes too fast, gives a wild look. 
  • Put down clicker at times, the clicker locks one hand for gestures – props can get in the way. Be careful!

With 10 years of the best speeches from the 2000s in our resource bank, let’s recap what new things we learned. 

Keeping a good cadence is key! If you’re too slow your audience will get bored; too fast and they’ll lose your point. Next, opening with a personal story or example is a great way to capture the audience’s attention right off the bat. Finally, if you’re using props or visuals make sure they aren’t getting in your way, that you don’t touch them when you’re done with them, and that they don’t take your attention or eye contact away from the audience. 

A decade of public speaking lessons wiser, you’re ready to head into the turbulent 2010s. 

Want to takeyour public speaking to the next level and develop your voice? Check out our blog on finding your leadership voice. 

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