1: The date was June 4, 1940. Nazi Germany was on the verge of victory over France. The situation was desperate. Prime Minister Winston Churchill had to prepare the British people for a momentous challenge ahead.
“We shall fight in France.
We shall fight on the seas and oceans.
We shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air.
We shall defend our Island, whatever the cost may be.
We shall fight on the beaches.
We shall fight on the landing grounds.
We shall fight in the fields and in the streets.
We shall fight in the hills.
We shall never surrender.”
Winston Churchill’s stirring speech that day is widely held to be one of the finest oratorical moments of the war and of his career. His oration is an electrifying example of the power of anaphora, where we communicate using a word or phrase at the beginning of successive clauses and sentences.
“Anaphora is effective in the building of a movement because it increases the intensity of an idea, and intense ideas sear themselves into our brain,” Carmine writes.
2: The “master class” in anaphora? Martin Luther King‘s Dream Speech.
Eight times Martin thunders the phrase “I have a dream…”
Eight times he contrasts the difficulties facing the nation with his dream of a better future.
As he wraps up his iconic speech, he wields an anaphora once again. This time speaking the phrase “Let freedom ring.”
“And so let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire.
Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York.
Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania.
Let freedom ring from the snow-capped Rockies of Colorado.
Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California.
But not only that:
Let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia.
Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee.
Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi.
From every mountainside, let freedom ring.”
3: Incredibly powerful, we think, but what does this technique have to do with me?
The Storyteller’s Secret? “Actually,” Carmine observes, “anaphora can be seamlessly and comfortably incorporated into business presentations meant to inspire audiences to see the world differently.”
Reflection: What can I learn from orators like Winston Churchill and Martin Luther King, Jr.?
Action: Experiment with anaphora to transform an otherwise functional presentation.