An astute reader of the this blog, David Meerman Scott, pinged me after Tuesday’s blog post and said, “Aren’t you going to provide examples?”  And that was such a sensible suggestion that I hasten to oblige.  So here is The Evolution of Public Speaking (and acting) Part 2.  I begin with the wonderful Sir Laurence Olivier’s Hamlet, the famous “To be or not to be” soliloquy.

Olivier’s Hamlet


Now, here’s a modern actor, Ethan Hawke, doing the same soliloquy.  Note how much more conversational the speech is.  Same words, different delivery.
Hawke’s Hamlet


And here’s Sir Winston Churchill’s famous “Quisling” speech from 1941.
Churchill’s Quisling Speech


And finally, a great business speaker, David Meerman Scott, talking about the “New Rules of Marketing and PR.”  Again, note how much more conversational David’s style is compared to Churchill’s.
David Meerman Scott on The New Rules of Marketing and PR


Through these examples you can see the evolution of both acting and speaking to a more conversational, natural style.  It’s time for us all to catch up.


  1. Hi Nick, Well I’m glad I asked the question! I didn’t expect to be a part of the answer though! I’ve really enjoyed the series of posts over the past few months. Keep the great information coming!

  2. This was a great post and great followup.

    Candidly I think that the Olivier sounds much better to my ear than the Hawke, because it matched the underlying language better, but this isn’t an issue for speakers today as we generally get to choose our own language.

    More importantly, since David and I and the rest of we business keynote speakers aren’t discussing committing princely suicide or the resistance to the predations of Hitler, I think actually it is even *more* important for this reason that we use a more conversational tone. Great point, Dr. Morgan!

    1. Thanks, Micah! And agree — the context matters a good deal. If you’re declaring war or peace, different standards apply, within a contemporary range of possible styles. But a Presidential talk today is still going to be more conversational than one from 50 years ago.

      1. The evolution of television, as you mention, is really something that affects us all (especially quote unquote reality TV); radio too: NPR and Howard and Robin on Howard Stern are so intimate in their way.

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