I came across a link to a webpage that listed the Top 10 Best Presentations Ever, based on their own criteria. These weren’t necessarily speeches, but the top 10 presentations of any kind in their history. That makes sense because no one is still around from when Lincoln gave the Gettysburg Address, and most of us are probably too young to remember Churchill’s speech to the nation during World War II.
Out of their top 10, the only presentation I could identify with was the Martin Luther King, Jr “I Have A Dream” speech in 1963, and the only other one I’d even seen was Andy Kaufman doing Mighty Mouse on Saturday Night Live in 1975. Most of their picks are technology related, so I guess it was a good thing they got Dr. King in there at all; not sure about Kaufman’s selection though.
Some time after that, they put some information together from readers of their blog and added the reader’s top 10 presentations, which was a more varied listing. Out of that list, the only one I’ve ever seen, but wouldn’t remember because I was too young, was President John Kennedy’s Berlin Wall speech in 1963, which I have to admit was pretty good.
I decided to add my own list and then ask all of you which presentations you thought were significant, and why. Remember, presentations isn’t necessarily speeches, as you’ll see from my top 5 list:
1. Martin Luther King Jr’s “Mountaintop” speech, 1968. I actually wrote about this one in my other blog, as I felt his words were chilling on that day, considering he was assassinated the next morning.
2. Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean” on Motown’s 25th Anniversary Special, 1984. When Michael Jackson uttered the words “I also like the new stuff,…”, magic came afterwards, and by many accounts that was the most watched entertainment moment in history at the time and possibly saved the music industry, which was in major disarray.
3. Jesse Jackson’s Democratic National Convention speech, 1988. Jesse Jackson was definitely relevant in 1988, and his successes during the 1988 Democratic primary campaign earned him a prominent spot on national television, and he followed Senator Edward Kennedy to the podium and delivered a monumental speech that, if the eventual Democratic candidate had half the passion, he’d have been elected president that year.
4. Bernard Shaw’s announcing the beginning of the Persian Gulf War, 1991. Talk about captivating television. I have no idea why I happened to be watching CNN when they suddenly cut to Bernard Shaw in Iraq, but he gave us a running narrative of the initial bombing of Baghdad while hiding underneath a table for protection, with a camera showing explosions all around them, and for the first time in history the world saw war, up close and personal, and live.
5. Neil Armstrong, first man to step on the moon, 1969. Living up to President John Kennedy’s promise to America that man would step on the moon before 1970, Neil Armstrong was tapped as the man to do the honors first, and below are those famous words that most of America saw live and grainy:
Okay friends, what do you have for me?