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There are a lot of criteria that may be used to judge the greatness of a speech out of which the content, the setting and the impact are the most vital. “Most importantly, it is the oratory skills of the speaker which can transform a seemingly commonplace speech into a fascinating one and embed it in history’s pages for years to come,” says Monique Rissen-Harrisberg CEO and founder of The Voice Clinic and doyen of voice and communication training in South Africa.

The Voice Clinic established in 1988, has trained many leaders and Harrisberg is currently coaching Dr Mamphela Ramphele, leader of the newly established AGANG party.

 “The pressure put on women to project what might seem to be incompatible qualities (to be credible as politicians they must come across as authoritative, competent and courageous but to be acceptable as women they must appear unaggressive, modest and vulnerable) poses real problems for them as public speakers,” explains Harrisberg. Here at The Voice Clinic we assist public speakers to overcome any problems or fears they might have,” says Harrisberg.

“Remember that every politician on this level usually has someone like me behind the scenes, to make them look and sound even better than they already are. Public Speaking is an art and a science that can be harnessed to gain power and lead empires,” explains Harrisberg.

Hillary Clinton lost to Barack Obama in Iowa during the last elections in America. The media described her as being ‘shrill’ and ‘strident but after extensive coaching Clinton was praised for her overtly feminine style, speaking directly about her feelings and shedding a few tears after her victory in New Hampshire.

Margaret Thatcher often considered the most formidable of all western female political leaders was criticised early in her prime ministerial career that she lacked a certain authority and gravitas. She acquired an image consultant after which Mrs Thatcher emerged with a new voice. She had lowered her pitch and learned to control her intonation, the rise and fall of the voice in normal speech. These modifications were intended to make her sound less like a genteel English lady and more like a commanding leader. Her remodelled way of speaking undoubtedly contributed to the perception that she was hectoring and aggressive

Public speakers are remembered and quoted for decades because of brilliant speeches that they delivered. No other speech has acquired such a cult status as the words uttered by Martin Luther King. More than just the words, it was the truth and passion with which these words were uttered that made them even more fascinating. Even though it had been a century or so that slavery had been abolished in America, the black Americans still faced extreme prejudice from the whites. Racism was as normal as bread and butter. It was in this setting that King Jr. delivered this historic speech and uttered: “I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed”. It was only fitting that this speech was delivered on the steps of the Lincoln memorial. The following year, at the age of 35, he became the youngest man to win the Nobel Peace Prize.

In his first speech as Britain's Prime Minister, Winston Churchill tied the outcome of the fight against the Nazis to the survival of Britain itself. One of history's best battle cries:“You ask, what is our policy? I can say: It is to wage war, by sea, land and air, with all our might and with all the strength that God can give us; to wage war against a monstrous tyranny, never surpassed in the dark, lamentable catalogue of human crime. That is our policy."

In a relatively brief address that he spent two months crafting, John F. Kennedy at 43, the youngest president elected to the office stressed the importance of national service."My fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you ask what you can do for your country."

When Ronald Reagan issued his famous challenge to Mikhail Gorbachev in Berlin, the speech earned mixed reviews.  But in 1989, the Berlin Wall was demolished, and today the address is remembered, in the words of the German newspaper Bild, as a speech that "changed the world." "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!"

There is hardly a sane person walking the face if earth who hasn’t heard Nelson Mandela. His perseverance and ability to endure the hardship of 30 years in prison has set a precedent for citizens all over the world. In Pretoria, South Africa in April 20, 1964; at the opening of his trial on false charges of sabotage and treason, Mandela delivered this famous speech standing at the dock and facing years of imprisonment. His unflinching faith in equality and courage to stand up against the toughest is what makes this speech really historic. Talking about democracy and free society, Mandela said: “…it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.”

“The Voice Clinic offers voice offer complimentary voice and communication skills assessments to assist individuals in evaluating their current skills levels. Book online www.thevoiceclinic.co.za