Body language plays a vital role in public speaking because it helps a speaker build an instant relationship with their audience. An audience can easily get disinterested when the speaker presents his speech without poise or expression, regardless of how good the speech is. The audience enjoys engagement more than speech. Practicing body language when preparing a speech is essential as it makes one comfortable, relaxed, and confident because they feel they have what is required to give an effective speech. Various body language, such as eye contact, head movement, hand gestures, body posture, and facial expressions, are all important in public speaking. This paper analyses and compares Dr. Martin Luther King’s and Alicia Garza’s speeches in regard to body language.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr presented his speech during a demonstration by the civil rights movement in 1963, held in Washington. Black Americans have been discriminated against and segregated for the longest time. This prompted Dr. Martin Luther King Jr to give a speech titled “I Have a Dream,” which talked about justice and freedom for African Americans. In his speech, he referenced the United States Constitution that guaranteed all Americans the freedom to move and interact as one people, regardless of their racial backgrounds. Alicia Garza presented her speech regarding “black lives matter.” Having co-founded, she gave the speech in 2013 to respond to increased police brutality, mainly in the African American community. In her speech, she focused on racism, domestic workers, gender issues, and a call to action to eradicate police brutality. Additionally, she talked about social injustice history in the United States, especially among the black American community.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr and Alicia Garza effectively used body language in their speeches. They both utilize facial expressions and hand gestures to emphasize what they are talking about or express their feelings. For example, when talking about the oppressive history of the African American community, both speakers frown to express their displeasure. In addition, their facial expression also indicated hope because they believed the movements would have positive results (John et al., 2017). Dr. Luther’s Jr speech is full of strength, charisma, and energy, and it is evident that the audience enjoyed the speech and the engagement. He builds a constant relationship with his audience when delivering his speech. He expresses his message enthusiastically and convinces the audience that their struggles will be resolved. In contrast, Alicia’s speech lacked the charisma, strength, and energy needed to persuade the audience. Her tone was detached and disappointed to the extent that the audience does not frequently engage. She was gentle, which did not match the enthusiasm required to deliver such a message.
Abraham Lincoln is remembered for the efforts he made to liberate enslaved people. Dr. Luther’s speech revolved around the enslaved people’s treatment carried on from the past. He focused on black African community segregation, which also happened to enslaved African Americans. The venue of the speech had an impact on the audience because it was a remembrance of the efforts done by their own before to end racism. In addition, Luther chose this location to send a message that American society should follow the constitution as established by President Abraham Lincoln. He also chose the church because he believed everyone was equal before God. He campaigned against slavery, hatred, and other forms of injustice that contradicted biblical teaching. Therefore, it can deduce that the location from which a speech affects the messaging because of what the location presents (Hay et al., 2017). The manner in which messages are transmitted today has significantly changed due to technological advancement. Today’s speech locations may have little or no effect on messaging. For example, Alicia Garza delivers her speech in a hall that may not affect the audience regarding their ability to relate to the subject matter.
As observed in Dr. Martin and Alicia’s speech, body language plays a crucial role in public speaking. They help the speaker establish a connection with the audience. The location from which a speech is delivered matters because the audience can easily relate to the subject matter if the venue brings back important memories.
Hay, J., Podlubny, R., Drager, K., & McAuliffe, M. (2017). Car-talk: Location-specific speech production and perception. Journal of Phonetics, 65, 94-109.
John, A. D., Nagarajan, G., & Arthi, M. (2017). Non Verbal Communication in Public Speaking. Impact Journals, 5(2), 97-100.