There are lots of people that have the power to motivate people through their words, and then there are others that can string words together that will undoubtedly move the audience by instilling hope. People with such abilities are often invited to be a keynote speaker at a large event. However, some of the best speeches were not even keynote speeches that were delivered at conventions and such. With the only exception of Barack Obama, former Illinois Senator as a keynote speaker at the Democratic National Convention in 2004, those in this list were not even the keynote speakers of the events they had presented at, but their inspiring words have awarded them with recognition as arguably having the best motivational speeches of all time.
Barack Obama’s keynote address at the 2004 DNC
As previously mentioned, US President Obama was the keynote speaker at the Democratic National Convention in Boston, Massachusetts. He begins the address with his father’s journey to America, how his parents met, and his upbringing that was filled with a tremendous amount of hardship. He reflects on the hardships and explains how he and his family overcame the obstacles with simply having faith in better possibilities and a brighter future. He was the perfect candidate for the keynote speaker of the conference, as his humbled background truly inspires listeners to seek out their full potential. He continues to deliver exceptional speeches at events, but this may have been the one that inspired people the most.
Robin Roberts’ award acceptance speech at the 2013 ESPYs
At the ESPYs 2013, Robin Roberts was awarded the Arthur Ashe Courage award. A truly remarkable woman, as she was the very first black broadcaster on ESPN in the 1990s. Roberts who is also a host of ABC’s “Good Morning America”, she has gone through hell and back with her struggles in health. Despite battling breast cancer and then myelogysplastic syndrome, a rare blood disorder, she explains how strength and support from her loved ones helped maintained her faith. She survived against all odds, and her story gives people the hope and strength that they need to fight off those life challenges.
Randy Pausch’s last lecture at Carnegie Mellon in 2007
In this particular speech entitled “Achieving Your Childhood Dreams” in his lecture series “The Last Lecture”, late professor Randy Pausch gives that last motivational push to a full auditorium. At the time of delivery, he was notified that he only had six months left to live, so he decided to disclose all the lessons that he learned in life and provides students with treasured advice on how to reach goals in terms of your career and personal life. In his speech he reminds everyone the importance of having dreams and believing that anything is possible.
Steve Jobs’ commencement speech at Stanford University in 2005
The amount of inspiration this Apple pioneer gave and continues to give to the rest of world cannot be summed up into one speech, but his commencement speech at the 2005 Stanford University graduation does come close. With the graduating class he shares three stories from his past. They were about making connections, death, and love. His diagnosis of pancreatic cancer had given him an outlook on life that is infectious, providing the graduating class and anyone who has a listen to his speech a sense of reality and personal reflection, all the while giving them self-assurance. Although his death was a tragedy, his presence still exists because of his past achievements that have encouraged others’ endeavors in their pursuits of life goals and dreams.