On Effective Communication

Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address: “A Few Appropriate Remarks”

President Lincoln

By Ken Michaels, Guest Writer

Editor’s note: Because Presidents’ Day is celebrated in February, we are honoring one of our nation’s greatest presidents and most skillful communicators.

In a recent article in the Poster, I mentioned that the words “I have a dream” are not to be found in the manuscript that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. took to the lectern on Aug. 28, 1963, during the celebrated March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom demonstration. When he sensed that his prepared speech was missing the mark, he resorted to the “dream” speech, which he had given several times previously, albeit not on the national stage. The result was the speech now considered the greatest American speech of the 20th century.

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A Really Great Speech That Almost Wasn’t

Portrait of Martin Luther King Jr.

By Ken Michaels, Guest Writer

As the anniversary of the birth of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. approaches, I’m reminded of two other, equally noteworthy, events that have special meaning to aficionados of excellence in speechifying. And they are especially significant to those in our geographical area; both occurred within 50 miles of Frederick, Md.                                    

The first event occurred on Aug. 28, 1963, when King delivered a speech in front of the Lincoln Memorial during the celebrated March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom demonstration. The other event was 100 years earlier, on Nov. 19, 1863.

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A Few Words about Words

Oil painting of William Shakespeare.

By Ken Michaels, Guest Writer

In Shakepeare’s play “Hamlet,” Polonius inquires of the prince, “What do you read, my lord?” Not at all pleased with what he’s reading, Hamlet replies, “Words, words, words.”1

I have previously described the communication model in which a sender encodes a message and then sends it via some channel (or medium) to a receiver, who decodes the message and, ideally, understands what was sent. Surely the most common way of encoding a message is in choosing the most appropriate words for the listener or reader.

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