Please enjoy this guest post by Jim McCraigh, speaker, author and executive coach who blogs at Purposeful Leadership about how to make a life-changing difference at work, at home and in your community. Read his Seven Secrets for Giving World Class Presentations.
The man who delivered the actual Gettysburg Address has been forgotten in time. No, not Abraham Lincoln. The other guy, Edward Everett.
Everett’s story serves as a reminder of just how great a communicator Lincoln really was. On that rainy November afternoon 150 years ago, he had been booked to give the main “Gettysburg Address”. Lincoln had only been scheduled to make a few remarks to dedicate the site.
Everett was one of the most accomplished lecturers of his time. After all, he was certainly intellectually qualified to give the address… he had been a pastor, a congressman, a senator, a governor, Secretary of State under Millard Fillmore, and to top it all off, president of Harvard University.
Everett had carefully researched and recounted the details of the battle of Gettysburg. Using a carefully structured script, he went on for two hours. By the time Edward Everett ended his dramatic oratory, he’d spoken nearly 13,600 words.
Then, after some music, Lincoln stood up and was able to summarize the importance of the battle in just ten sentences.
Civil War folklore has it that Lincoln scribbled the speech on the back of an envelope on the train from Washington to Gettysburg. He may have… or he may have finished it in his room earlier that morning. What is important is that Lincoln spoke from his heart and Everett spoke from his head. Everett had carefully crafted a formal speech for the occasion. Lincoln took just three minutes to share his innermost thoughts that day.
Rather than deliver a set of facts and pronouncements, Lincoln did what exceptional leaders do… he made an emotional connection with those in attendance rather than Everett’s more intellectual one. In less than 280 words, he inspired us all in a way that lives on to this day.
Makes me want to be like Abe…