Top 10 Motivational Speeches of all time

Throughout history, speeches have held the power to make or break a situation. A speech that has strong content, and is delivered effectively, has the power to impact the hearts and souls of millions. A motivational speech has the capacity to revolutionize the world. Sometimes, one speech is all it takes to make great things happen. Keeping to the note, here are the top 10 motivational speeches of all time.


10) Baz Luhrmann – Everybody’s Free

It is supposed to be an advertisement, but one that takes five minutes to tell the audience about life and some important lessons to learn. These involve daily events to catastrophic situations, and the speaker gives advice and inspiration to all. Although it starts – and ends – with asking the people to wear sunscreen, it is more than just an advertisement. The words touched millions of people, and there are accounts of people changing their entire lives on the basis of this single speech. However, Baz Luhrmann doesn’t get all the credit. The speech is written by Mary Schmich and was originally published in the Chicago Tribune.

9) Steve Jobs – Standford University Commencement

Steve Jobs was not only one of the greatest inventors of al time, but also a thinker and a mentor to many other people. In 2005, he was invited to Stanford for the commencement of their students. There, he narrated three personal stories, which moved the guests and those who watched the video online. He talks about the difficulties of life, but also sheds light on the human courage and determination to face any challenge thrown our way. Emphasising on the need of faith – in yourself, others, or a Supreme Being – he gives solace to the listeners about how life tends to turn out just fine in the end. He ended the speech with a quote that he held close to his heart – “Stay hungry. Stay foolish.”

8) Ken Robinson – Do Schools Kill Creativity

TED talks is renowned for bringing some of the most famous and successful people together to give a talk on any topic that enriches ones knowledge. Although difficult to choose from, Ken Robinson’s 2007 talk about the debate of schools killing creativity in people. Through humour and wit, he  makes a compelling case about the importance of education and our vested interest in an education that does not squander creativity. He talks about real life experiences of little children being unafraid of making mistakes, of being confident, and how the education system stigmatises mistakes. No wonder, this is one of the most famous TED talks of all time and has more than 9 million views.

7) Randy Pausch – Achieving Childhood Dreams

Professor Randy Pausch was diagnosed with a terminal disease and had a few months left to live. Instead of mourning or fearing death, he decided to give a lecture on how to achieve your childhood dreams. He talks about the importance of dreams in the first place, and how life is all about achieving the dreams that are most important to you. He stresses about dreams being the driving force behind our decisions and behaviours and inspires people to take steps that ensure they die in peace. The fact that a dying man is able to dispel such wisdom had an immense impact on the entire audience and continues to inspire people after his death.

6) Sara Blakely – The Spanx Story

Sara Blakely gave a speech at ‘The Edge Connection’ about her invention of Spanx. She admits to it being for her personal comfort but then started making homemade versions of her invention. Hers is a story of incredible determination and grass-root level efforts to get her invention to the women. She points out the problems with the underwear business, where men are the top inventors and the manufacturers. Listening to her story one learns to not head to criticism or self – doubts, and believe in their ideas despite what the world thinks of them.

5) Yeonmi Park – Escaping from North Korea

A young girl, a refugee from North Korea, shared her borrowing experience of growing up in North Korea. She recounts how it was to live in a country that allows absolutely no freedom. Although disheartening to listen to her stories and personal tragedy, the girl was symbolic to exceptional bravery to not only survive but speak up against the atrocities committed in the country. Her story was heard by people from almost 200 nationalities at the One World Summit and was shared online by people, echoing their concern for the State and the refugees. Her story inspired people to talk and discuss the possible solutions to the larger problem while also teaching people to be thankful for the more privileged societies they are born in.

4) Emma Watson – He for She Campaign

Emma Watson, a celebrity who grew up in the limelight since her first Harry Potter movie, took the stage at the UN to talk about gender equality. As the UN Women Goodwill Ambassador, she laughed a campaign called ‘He for She’. Watson went on to explain how patriarchy is not simply a women’s issue, but an issue that affects every human. Her speech started a social media campaign and led to people from various countries pledging their support for the common cause of gender equality in both public and private spaces. Her speech effectively rekindled the debate of half the world’s potential being left untapped, half the population being systematically discriminated against, and inspired many young men and women to speak up and take action as well.

3) Jim Carrey – Not Playing it Safe

In another commencement speech, Jim Carrey narrates a story about his father who took the safe route to become an accountant, instead of following his passion of becoming a comedian. Unfortunately, the safe route didn’t work out and the family struggled for most of their lives. He explains how it is important to believe in what one wants to do, and following ones ambitions despite the drawbacks one may be afraid of. With a personal story, he motivates people to take chances and take the risks necessary to be happy and true to oneself, rather than following a ‘safe’ path. This speech has since inspired many to do what they love, not what they see as a safe bet.

2) Barack Obama – Keynote Speech

One of Obama’s best qualities is his ability to deliver beautiful speeches. In 2004, far before his election as President, he talks about the challenges he faced as a child. He shares his upbringing in a poor family that struggled to make ends meet. However, he continues to explain how it is not the money that allows for success but the determination and hard work one puts into it. He highlights the necessity of sweat for success, but also makes sure people know that anything is possible. His own success story later on in life prove his mantra of determination and remains to be one of the most motivational speeches for anyone who feels downtrodden.

1) Martin Luther King Jr. – I Have a Dream

Perhaps the most recognisable speech of all time, Martin Luther King Jr’s ‘I have a dream’ gave rise to hope and courage in millions of African-Americans to stand up for their rights. It painted a picture of a world where discrimination didn’t exist, a world where people were free irrespective of their race and colour. It was this speech back in the day in 1963 that gave new momentum to the Black movement in the United States, and across the world. After this speech, he also became one of the youngest people to win the Nobel Peace Prize. This speech has inspired more people than is possibly measurable, and will remain to be one of our greatest treasures.

All of these speeches have had left their impression on millions of people and continue to inspire millions through their wise words and wisdom. Listening to these people motivates us to make the most out of our lives, and strive for what we believe in.

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