Nelson Mandela’s Tips On How To Customize Your Next Speech

by drjim on March 22, 2011

Nelson Mandela Knew How To Customize Each Speech To His Audience

Nelson Mandela Knew How To Customize Each Speech To His Audience

Hopefully everyone knows who Nelson Mandela is – he’s the South African leader who’s tireless efforts helped to get rid of his country’s oppressive apartheid policies. What is less known is how he marshaled world opinion in order to support the change that he wanted. It turns out that one way he made this happen was by giving speeches that uniquely connected with his audiences…

Nelson Mandela’s Speeches

Nelson Madela spent 27 years in prison before he was released by the South African government. When he got out, he quickly started to give speeches that all had one common message: support his African National Congress (ANC) party in their attempt to create a new government.

It was important that Mandela work his key message into every speech that he gave. No matter where in the world he was, no matter who he was speaking to, his message was always the same: lend your support to the ANC.

This meant that he really had to give the same speech over and over again. However, he couldn’t just show up and say the same thing each time – he would quickly lose the interest of his audiences. He needed to find a way to deliver his message in such a way that it would appeal to his audience while at the same time allowing him to incorporate his main message: please support the ANC.

It turns out the Nelson Mandela is a good speaker – he has a lot of natural ability. However, it was the realization that he needed to find ways to connect with his audience each time that he spoke that turned him to a great speaker.

How Nelson Mandela Connected With His Audience

Nelson Mandela connected with his audiences by taking the time to customize the words that he was saying. He knew that the core of each of his speeches needed to remain the same, support the ANC, but that he could modify the rest in order to reach out to and connect with the audience that he was addressing.

William Stevenson III has spent time studying the speeches that Mandela gave and he has been able to document the ways that the speeches were customized for various audiences.

When Mandela traveled to the United States, he gave a speech to a huge crowd in New York City’s Harlem area. During this speech he changed it to include statements about how his struggles in South Africa were similar to the struggles of the Harlem residents to overcome their economic and social challenges.

Later in the same trip, Mandela addressed the U.S. Congress. During this speech he invoked the struggles that had been incorporated into the U.S. constitution and he related that to what he was trying to accomplish in South Africa.

What All Of This Means For You

Nelson Mandela is an accomplished political leader who successfully overthrew the oppressive apartheid polices that were holding his country back. One of the key skills that he used to do this was his ability to deliver powerful speeches to diverse audiences.

The only thing that the audiences that Mandela talked to had in common was that they were so very different. Mandela talked in multiple countries always sharing the same message: support my effort to cast out the current government of South Africa. In each country he would talk to different types of audiences. He would talk to common people in the street and leaders of government.

The way he was able to make his message connect with each of these audiences was by customizing his words to match what was important to them. He would use this type of tailored speech to capture the attention of his audience and then once they were connected, he would share his main message with them. We need to learn from Mandela and use his knowledge to reach our audiences so that our messages will make a lasting impression on them…

– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World Public Speaking Skills™

Question For You: How much customization of a speech do you think that you should do for a given audience?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

Speakers who are facing a challenging speech or challenging audience often ask themselves what they could do in order to be more successful. Sure, there are a lot of tricks out there that one can use to capture an audience’s attention and make them laugh a few times. However, if you really want to deliver a successful speech then you are going to have to share the true you with your audience – you’re going to have to show them your personal speaking style…

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