The four elements of a great speech, according to Demosthenes–the greatest of ancient Greek orators–are:
- A great person
- A noteworthy event
- A compelling message
- A masterful delivery
In my opinion, the person giving the speech is what matters most.
This is becoming increasingly clear as the presidential primary season plays out here in the United States, and as attention is being given more to the candidates than to their message
To take the most obvious example, whatever is reported, discussed, or analyzed about Donald Trump, positively or negatively, has more to do with his character than with what he says he will do, if elected.
The person giving the speech has, for better or worse, taken center stage.
That’s why character matters so much.
By character, I don’t mean a person’s ego, personality, image, or–gag me–personal brand.
Character, to my way of thinking, involves a person’s long-established, deeply rooted values, integrity, experience, knowledge, compassion, and wisdom.
To be a great person, in Demosthenes’s understanding (and in mine), doesn’t involve status, or wealth, or renown. A great person is one whose virtues contribute to the welfare of others.
PS I build my book, Real Leaders Don’t Do PowerPoint (Crown Publishing) around Demosthenes’s four elements of a great speech.
Photo courtesy of Death to The Stock Photo.