If Martin Luther King Jr had used PowerPoint….

Thursday, August 29th, 2013 by Simon Morton

Fifty years ago this week Martin Luther King Jr delivered a speech that was designed to change the world – and it did.

You don’t need to have a particular interest in equality, civil rights, politics, religion or history to know what I’m talking about, ‘I have a dream’ is one of the most often quoted, misquoted, emulated and parodied speeches of all time.

Presenters everywhere yearn for such clarity of message and can only dream about the levels of engagement this speech achieved. Not only that, the speech included one of the ultimate calls to action of all time, one that people are still responding to half a century later.

But what if PowerPoint was his communication tool of choice?

Martin Luther King’s aide was quoted as saying “the logistical preparations for the march were so burdensome that the speech was not a priority for us, on the evening of Tuesday, Aug. 27, Martin still didn’t know what he was going to say”. Something we call the presentation paradox.

And if that’s true then his presentation might have looked something like this.

But we don’t believe that this could have happened because King had mastered the two key components of every presentation:

He knew his story.

He knew his audience.

Not only that but if he was to have used PowerPoint we bet that the presentation would have been as powerful as the speech.

How can we be so sure?

Martin Luther King Jr was not just an enigmatic speaker, he was a planner and a strategist who gathered a band of experts around him to help him achieve his goals and if PowerPoint had been part of the plan he would have sought the best help available.

And we’d like to think that might have been someone like us.

Most of the presentations we create don’t change the world, but they can change the opinions and perceptions of your audience, if the quality of the presentation truly communicates the quality of the story.


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One Response to “If Martin Luther King Jr had used PowerPoint….”

  1. Byron Wolt says:

    Great Post! i absolutely agree that Dr. King would have used PowerPoint to enhance his already amazingly powerful message. I have his I Have a Dream speech on my IPod and try to listen to it regularly to be inspired both as a human being for his message, and as a speaker for his amazing delivery.

    After thinking about doing it for too long, i finally created my own PowerPoint on my 10 favorite quotes from the speech. Today i learned it made the front page of Slideshare in the most discussed on Facebook category.

    I can only imagine how many shares, likes and embeds Dr. King would have generated for his PowerPoint and his message. Thanks for the post!

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