Monday, April 3, 2017

Five Public Speaking Lessons we can Learn from Meryl Streep *UPDATED WITH VIDEO*

One of the reasons  I decided to switch my website over to Blogger was because of the ease of embedding elements such as video here. Now that I can, I have updated this post by sharing the video I shot to accompany it. After all, it's not all the time we have the energy to read. If you'd rather read the post, please continue.  

But before you do, let me reintroduce you to this topic: In this year's Golden Globes, Meryl Streep’s acceptance speech for the Cecil B DeMille Award, which honoured her contribution to the world of entertainment can only be described as thunderous. She unleashed a storm over Trump's head by publicly admonishing him for his behaviour. But, what I took from her speech were the lessons in public speaking. 

This week has been a remarkable one for famous speeches. Namely that of Meryl Streep and then of  Barack Obama (which I am yet to listen to in full). But I’d like to pay attention the former, which we can all learn from.
Meryl Streep giving her acceptance speech
On Monday Morning we woke up to the highlights from the Golden Globes.Many awards were given out and received but what probably took centre stage had to be Meryl Streep’s acceptance speech* for the Cecil B DeMille award, which honoured her contribution to the world of entertainment. The storm she had cooked up was so thunderous that I had to watch her performance for myself.
She totally annihilated Donald Trump without so much as mentioning his name, and her delivery had all the grace of The Queen’s Christmas speech. She basically twisted the knife in Trump’s chest whilst fluttering her lashes at him, with Hollywood’s elite and the world’s media as witnesses!
Then I decided to have a little bit of fun, and pick out the main features that made her speech an unforgettable one.

These are lessons we can all learn for ourselves when giving our own speeches.
1.      Emotive language – this is language that appeals to your audience’s emotions. For example  “he really upset me”, has a bit more feeling than “he caused me some offense”. That is what makes the former emotive.  When Meryl Streep used phrases such as  “it broke my heart”, she made and emotional connection with her listeners.
2.      Solidarity with the audience – by featuring the likes of Viola Davis, Sarah Jessica Parker and Ruth Negga in her speech (who were all in the audience)  and likening them with her, she created a sense of unity that extended itself to everyone else that was listening.
3. Story telling – besides solidarity, she told her story. “I was born and raised and created in public schools…” is a line that told her story. This is always a powrful tool and one that will always appeal to the human side of your audience. No matter the indusrty you’re in.
4.      Tone and rhythm  – known as prosody amongst linguists and speech experts.  Her outright disgust was measured by the calmness of her tone. There were times when she sounded like she was on the brink of tears. There were other times when she paused to allow the audience to laugh or clap. All these are features that make a speech interesting. Remember this when you delivered her own speech
5.      Setting – or backdrop. She used a heavily televised and hugely popular event as her stage. Her subject, ie Donald Trump is a hot topic of the season. And of course, she IS Meryl Streep!
I hope you found these lessons useful. If you have enjoyed this post and would like to read more please subscribe here


  1. I've also noticed Meryl Streep's use of emotive language, and how interesting about her tone and rhythm. I'll definitely have to watch my own sometime as I've never really noticed before!

    1. Hi Gabrielle. Many thanks for passing through. She really uses emotive language well. Good speech overall!

  2. I don’t know what has happened to the custom of delivering consistent good articles. I hope that the custom comes alive after this..thumbs up for your work

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