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For me, the biggest take-away from this book is the incredible insight it provides into AUDIENCE ANALYSIS.

No speaker will be judged as great if he/she has not analysed the audience well, and crafted a speech that resonates with the audience’s needs and interests.

This book contains speeches from Pericles in 495 BC, to Abraham Lincoln in 1863, to Nelson Mandela in 1990, and beyond. In every case, the context of the speech is provided, allowing the reader to get an idea of the audience the speaker was addressing.

The book states its aim as highlighting just what makes a speech great – what makes a speech memorable – things like language use, repetition, etc. It also aims to provoke thought, based on the ideas expounded in each speech.

For me, as I’ve said, the major lesson lies in how well the featured speakers (1) identified their audiences, and (2) crafted their speeches specifically for those audiences.

You probably wouldn’t read this book in one go. It’s a great reference to pick up when you’re in the mood!