Best Speeches of 2018: A Look Back

2018 was a great year for presentations, and we want to highlight some of the best speakers we saw and wrote about over the past 12 months. We tended to notice speakers who brought emotion and authenticity to their presentations, as well as great stories and great passion. Here are some of our favorites – click the titles to view the speeches:

Oprah Winfrey at the Golden Globe Awards

After Oprah gave this rousing speech in accepting the Cecil B. DeMille award for lifetime achievement, we heard people declaring it as the moment that would propel her to run for president. Oprah was powerful, starting with her story of being a little girl watching Sidney Poitier accept the Oscar for best actor in 1975, and how that was a life changing moment for her. Every detail of her story, and every insight she offered, combined to make this a remarkable presentation.

Emma Gonzales at March for Our Lives

Sometimes, everyday people find themselves thrust into the public eye. Such was the case for young Emma Gonzales, a survivor of the horrible school shooting in Parkland, Florida last spring. It was Gonzales who emerged as a leader of the “March for Our Lives” movement that drew hundreds of thousands to Washington and to similar events across the country. While many things about Gonzales captivated us, it was her amazing six minutes of silence—equal to the amount of time it took the shooter to kill 17 people at her school—that we won’t soon forget.

Reverend Michael Curry at the Royal Wedding

When Reverend Michael Curry stood at the imposing lectern in London at the royal wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, it was an especially moving moment in a great event being watched around the world. Curry literally twisted his body to connect with his entire audience as he preached about the power of love, using memorable gestures, great vocal variety, and an ability to make his voice rise to fill the giant Westminster Abbey.

Senator Cory Booker at Temple University Commencement

Each year we call attention to the many great commencement speakers at universities across the country. Senator Cory Booker was our favorite this year when he delivered the annual address at Temple University. We thought Booker hit all the right notes, and we appreciated the detail of his personal stories and especially the poignancy of his connection to civil rights leader John Lewis. It’s worth 26 minutes of your time to watch him!

Ray Lewis at NFL Hall of Fame Induction

Talk about energy. This man’s presentation was so animated that he frequently had to mop his head with a towel. Lewis talked about growing up in extreme poverty, getting the last scholarship at Miami University, and the sacrifices his mother made so that he could find a road to success. We actually heard many great speakers at this event, and invite you to read our blog article that talks about them in more depth.

Jim Kelly at ESPY Awards

We’ve written many times about the exceptional speakers we have heard speak at this annual event celebrating the sports industry. We really appreciated the presentation by former quarterback Jim Kelly, a motivational speaker who lost his son, Hunter, to a devastating genetic disease and himself is currently fighting cancer. Kelly showed himself to be a humble man of great faith, and an inspirational presenter as well.

Survivors of Sexual Abuse speaking at the ESPY Awards

One of the most moving moments in presentations this year was when 140 women, all victims of sexual abuse by USA Gymnastics and Michigan State doctor Larry Nasser, came together to the stage to accept the Arthur Ashe award for courage. Three women, including Olympic gold medalist Aly Raisman, spoke openly about what happened to them, sharing their struggles and showing their courage. Raisman encouraged people to share their own struggles, saying “Your truth does matter, you matter, and you are not alone.” Be sure to watch the audience’s touching and memorable response to the presentation.

Be sure to watch this space in 2019 for more examples of great presenters!

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