Greatest Orators: Top 10 Great Orators of All Time
Who are the greatest Orators of all time?
Or who are the best Orators?
These questions are not easy to answer, as there are so many orators that were great in their own time and ways. Some of which we have no record of.
Therefore, compiling this list of “The Top 10 Great Orators of All Time” is no easy task. But after thorough researching, analysis and rating, we present to you our “Top 10 Great Orators of All Time”.
And There are:
1. Cicero Marcus
Cicero is perhaps the greatest orator of late Roman Republic. He is an orator, a philosopher and a lawyer. A typical classical orator: being more philosophical and drenched in law.
“The ideal orator would master both law and philosophy and would add eloquence … He would also be the best of human being, who understand the correct way to live, act upon”
Cicero on the Ideal Classical Orator
During their time, there was less heart to oratory than in contemporary times. Great classical orators use more of logic in their delivery as opposed to modern great orators who are more emotional (more hearty) in their delivery.
Cicero viewed oratory as a one-way communication, and he was highly persuasive. As a brilliant orator and one of Ancient Roman’s great philosophers, he was well made for greatest in oratory and he was great.
Demosthenes was a great orator of Ancient Athens, one of the finest of Ancient Greece. He is the father of modern oratory.
Demosthenes journey into oratory began at a very tender age. He started by studying speeches of great orators before him. And his initial goal journeying into oratory, was the hope of recovering what was left of his inheritance from his guardians. Demosthenes planned on achieving that through judicial proceedings that rested on excellently delivered judicial speech.
At Age 20, Demosthenes achieved his goal and regain his inheritance. He later establish himself as a lawyer, a professional speech writer and a major political figure in Ancient Athens. Through fervent study and practice, Demosthenes established himself as a great in oratory.
3. Frederick Douglass
Frederick Douglass was born into slavery, in a time when slavery was morally right in the sight of beastly men. Men whom though they have the form of humans, possess the soul of beasts.
Douglass became literate at an early age which empowered him for greatness. He manage to escape slavery and eventually became a National Leader of the Abolitionist Movement in New York and Massachusetts.
Douglass was the most influential African American leader of the 1800s. He was so great an orator that people doubted he was once a slave.
Also Read: How to Prepare for an Outstanding Speech
“Northerners at that time found it hard to believe that such a great orator had once been a slave”
Frederick Douglass, Wikipedia.com
4. Abraham Lincoln
Best known as the orator who delivered the Gettysburg Address. Lincoln is one of my favourite orators. He is the 16th President of the United States, whose presidency at that time was pretty much unlikely. His only experience in elected position came during his one term as a congressman.
Lincoln had a profile of being staunchly against slavery in the United States; making him so unpopular. But using the magic wand in oratory, he delivered series of brilliantly crafted speeches that made him popular enough to be nominated as a Presidential Candidate for the then newly formed Republican Party.
His speech before a 1,500 audience at Cooper Thin Hall in New York City was said to have played a major role in his nomination for Presidency. And eventually his election as the 16th President of the United States.
“Had Lincoln not delivered such a triumphant address before the sophisticated and demanding audience that night, it is possible that he would not have been nominated, much less elected to the presidency the following November.”
Lincoln the Orator, American Heritage
Lincoln was a uniquely gifted orator, and a self-educated lawyer. I wouldn’t have expected anything less than his greatness in oratory.
5. Winston Churchill
Churchill was a British Politician, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom during the Second World War. He led the UK into victory, delivering some of history’s greatest speeches.
Churchill instilled hope and belief into all of the UK during those turbulent times with his well-crafted and delivered words.
“He had long understood the power of words, writing at the age of 22: ‘Of all the talents bestowed upon men, none is so precious as the gift of oratory. He who enjoys it wields a power more durable than that of a great king”
– Did Winston’s Word Win the War?, BBC iWonder
You May Also Want to Read: Fear of Public Speaking: Practical Tips to Overcome it
6. Adolf Hitler
Hitler is a good reminder that a gift as precious as the gift of oratory could be used for evil purposes. I think, I am an admirer of Hitler’s oratorical talent. And I must immediately note that I am a great despiser of how he decided to use his talent.
Adolf Hitler was a charismatic dictator who initiated the Second World War in a bid to enhance the Nazi Party’s influence all over the world. And of course, he wanted to maintain his status as the head of the Nazi Party while this purported influence spread.
He was a propagandist, master of dark art in oratory. One who propelled himself into absolute power by capitalizing on economic woes, popular discontentment and the existence of a political infighting.
As a politician, he and his Nazi Party were never popular among the Germans. Evidenced by the fact that Nazis never attained more than 37% of votes at their peak. But as an orator, he was great, energetic and filled with passion (or rather hate, so to say).
7. John F. Kennedy
John F. Kennedy rose to height of greatness when he defeated Nixon with the slightest of margin (49.7% to 49.5%) in 1960. Before his short-lived Presidency he was a fine orator. With an experience in the military and in journalism, I would say he had enough real-life opportunities to develop fast as an orator.
As President of the United States, he was young, vibrant, and full of hope. He employed all this attributes into his speech: vibrancy, audaciousness and hope.
His words are powerful, having the force to change the course of history and it did change the course of history.
8. Martin Luther King Jnr.
Forever, King will be remembered for his ‘I have a dream speech’. King was the 1964 Nobel Peace Prize Winner for combating racial inequality through non-violence and civil disobedience.
“Martin Luther King Jnr. … became the most visible spokesperson and leader in the civil rights movement from 1954 until his assassination in 1968”
Martin Luther King Jnr., Wikipedia.com
Kings name is a frequently featured name in any well researched list of top orators of all time. His oratorical skills, I believe, was rooted in the fact that he was a trained preacher. Normally preachers at that time were trained to be highly skilled orators (persuasive speakers). King, son of preacher, who grew up to become a preacher, what else should one expect?
9. Nelson Mandela
Mandela is not just a great orator, he is one of the most thoughtful orators of all time. He emerged South Africans first black president in her first fully representative democratic elections. A revolutionist, an equality advocate and a Nobel Peace Prize winner.
He is an oratorical master storyteller, and most of his speeches are a perfect examples of the power of storytelling in oratory.
In my opinion, his 27 years in prison helped form and shaped him. The prison time paved way for the highly thoughtful, humble and exceptional orator in Mandela. After getting out of prison Mandela was levels high above ordinary in his speeches.
10. Barack Obama
Obama so far is the 21st Century Finest and Greatest Orator. He served as the 44th President of the United States and the first black American President of the US.
His political rise to presidency, was carried on the wings of sound oratory. With the theme of his speeches usually revolving around “national unity” and “positive change”. Obama is a gifted orator. Who has the notable ability to connect with his audience by finding common ground.
“My personal favourite of Obama speeches, was the speech forbes.com claimed made Obama president. The 2004 National Convention Speech: The Audacity of Hope”
Henry Goodluck, Co-Founder Oratorshub.com
I hoped you find this list inspiring and helpful to you. I wish to note that there were so many notable exceptions. Orators whom might have deserved to be on this list but are not.
If there is any body you think should be on this list, let me know by commenting down below.