03 Nov 6 Historical Figures Who Had a Way With Words
When devising your next captivating brand strategy and perfecting your communication, it’s no secret that good wording is key.
A muddled message that fails to inspire risks being remembered for its mediocrity, or worse – being forgotten altogether.
Many of history’s most notable figures have made their claim to fame with words as much as with actions. Just a glimpse at the history books is often all it takes to assure yourself that, with the right wording and careful delivery, nations, politicians and entire movements can bring about the winds of change.
You need powerful words at your disposal to convey any message with conviction, so take note from these unforgettable historic figures and their way with words and ensure your copywriting strategy is effective.
During his military career in the late 1800s, a much younger Winston Churchill remarked that ‘of all the talents bestowed upon men, none is so precious as the gift of oratory’. History proved just how powerful Churchill’s command of words was destined to be.
Made Prime Minister during wartime, in a period in which Britain was watching Europe being swallowed by Nazi occupation, initial hopes weren’t high for Churchill. It’s easy to forget that he changed the minds of a reluctant public through his inspiring speeches and penmanship.
By appealing to collective concern and converting it into courage, Churchill’s words became a huge component in the Allied victory of the Second World War. His legacy lives on in any of us using words to stir our own allies into action, against challenges facing our organisations.
Ancient Greek orator Demosthenes and Winston Churchill have something in common, besides their affinity for powerful words. Both suffered a speech affliction in their youth that they overcame, proving that everyone can find the right words and best delivery with conscious effort.
Much like Churchill, Demosthenes’ most famous speeches were those in defence of his homeland. Many of his contemporaries were resigned to the idea of Philip II of Macedon, father to Alexander the Great, overtaking Athens, as he’d already overturned much of Ancient Greece beforehand. By the time Philip was knocking on Athens’ door, many feared it too late, yet Demosthenes’ gave an impassioned speech decrying how other surrendering or conquered cities had suffered under Philip’s rule.
His delivery stirred the statesmen of Athens out of their complacency and inspired them to change their ways, just as good use of persuasion can encourage even those organisations set in their ways to adopt some blue sky thinking.
From Lincoln, we learn the value of a powerful message that’s delivered concisely. Honest Abe is said to have penned his landmark Gettysburg Address on little more than notebook pages in a train carriage en route to the memorial, which he’d been invited to as an afterthought guest speaker.
That speech was presented in just a few minutes, meaning the man at the old circa-1800s camera didn’t even finish setting up to photograph Lincoln delivering it. Nonetheless, it has gone on to become one of the United States’ most famous speeches, famously calling for a government by the people, for the people. Lincoln proved how a good message delivered with clarity can speak for generations.
During the late 20th Century, Nelson Mandela made tremendous strides in both ending prejudices in South Africa and stepping forward as its leader. From him, we can learn the power of passionately communicated peaceful messages.
Even when Mandela was sentenced to almost three decades in prison for supposedly treasonous acts against the state, he demonstrated no anger and instead spoke of equality, peace and camaraderie among humankind. These same principles are what he brought to his leadership over South Africa, and each of his words carried a message that inspired devotion in his followers, having appealed to their hearts.
Sometimes you want your communication to motivate its target audience into touching base with that inner sense of aspiration in us all. American President Theodore Roosevelt was great at connecting people with that feeling, with his motivational speeches and writings calling on young American men, in particular, to embrace etiquette and decorum.
Roosevelt was a big fan of learning, and his followers found his wordsmith ways as educational as they were engaging. Similarly, those of us who can educate as much as entertain stand to gain plenty in our own communication strategy.
Gandhi’s methods of peaceful protest were pioneering for their day, helping secure India’s freedom. Yet even with such methods aside, those actions would be nothing without words. By giving the reasoning behind his beliefs from an emotional perspective, Gandhi appealed to people’s empathy through logical explanation.
From there, he was able to convey his message with sincerity, which is perhaps the biggest secret of all. People can innately tell if you’re sincere in what you’re communicating, so ensure that you follow Gandhi’s lead when it comes to delivering your message with clarity.
At WooContent, we believe that the great wordsmiths of the ages still have plenty to teach the content strategists of today. We’d love to connect with you in finding out how to make your message shine among your contemporaries, encouraging business growth and personal relationships alike.