I’M a speech nerd. There, I’ve said it.
I regularly spend my long drives for work listening to TedX podcasts, and my love of the written word was really born from a love of the spoken word (which, as my mum would tell you, I’ve been particularly skilled at speaking since I was very young – and rarely stop).
So here’s my favourite ten speeches from 2016. They may not be yours, but they all struck a chord (whether it be funny, serious or emotional) with me.
Remember, a good speech doesn’t necessarily mean you agree with the content – it’s about the ability to use language to evoke emotion, thought and discussion.
1. Matty Johns' Australia Day speech, aired on Triple M
This had to be, hands down, my favourite speech of 2016. Yes, it’s a bit left-field, but it left me with a much heightened respect for good ol’ Matty Johns.
Favourite quote: “It’s a real good time to ask the question, I mean with the threat of terrorism, the temptations to shut our boarders, close in and shut the door – withdraw from the world a step or two. But I mean really, who are we kidding? We’re the product of multiculturalism – that’s who we are. I mean what gives us the right right now to turn our backs on some poor bludger and his family fleeing horror in his homeland?”
2. US President Barack Obama’s speech when awarding Ellen the Medal of Freedom Award
This speech is a recent one, and one which I’m sure most people have already seen (thanks to the powers of social media). I could have filled this top ten list with ten of Obama’s speeches if I’m honest, but this one was my favourite from 2016.
Favourite quote: “Today, every day in every way, Ellen counters what too often divides us. With the countless things that bind us together – with one joke, one dance at a time.”
3. Selena Gomez at the 2016 American Music Awards
Quite honestly, I can’t believe I’m including Selena Gomez in a list of my favourite speeches from 2016.
However, the speech that she gave at the AMAs this yeah highlighted the importance of taking a step back and looking after mental health – regardless of the expectations of others. And I think that’s a pretty important message, and she certainly has the right platform to reach the future of our society.
Favourite quote: “I had to stop. Because I had everything – and I was absolutely broken inside. I kept it all together enough to where I would never let you down. But I kept it too much together, to where I let myself down.”
4. The Michelle Obama/Melania Trump debacle
Oh the calamity. Oh the hilarity.
Who could forget when Melania Trump plagiarised First Lady Michelle Obama’s speech? Did she really think no one would notice? It had to make the list as one of the weirdest decisions of 2016 – but undoubtedly a great (if not Michelle Obama’s) speech.
Favourite quote: I’m not sure who I’d quote, so I’m not going to pick one here.
5. Leonardo DiCaprio’s Oscars speech
There may have totally been room for Rose on the door, but I will forgive Leo for that mishap after his Oscars speech this year.
Passionate and humble, he took the space to bring light to a topic may choose to skirt around.
Favourite quote: “We need to work collectively together and stop procrastinating. We need to support leaders around the world who do not speak for the big polluters and the big corporations who speak for all of humanity, and the indigenous people of the world, and for the billions and billions of underprivileged people who will be most affected by this.”
6. Stan Grant’s speech on indigenous rights in Australia
Stan Grant is a respected journalist, and he certainly achieved that because he knows and understands how to use language to evoke emotion.
This speech was widely viewed, and I believe it deserves its place in this list – and deserves to be heard widely throughout not only Australia, but the world.
Favourite quote: “Australians all let us rejoice, for we are young a free. My people die young in this country. We die ten years younger than the average Australian, and we are far from free. We are fewer than three per cent of the Australian population, and yet we are 25 per cent – a quarter of those Australians who are locked up in prisons.”
I had to pick two favourite quotes from this one.
“An indigenous child is more likely to be locked up in prison than they are to finish high school.”
7. Donovan Livingston’s Harvard graduation speech
Donovan Livingston is not famous, he’s not an actor, a politician or a leader. He was, however, a masters candidate from Harvard who performed an amazing piece of spoken word this year.
Favourite quote: “For some, the only difference between a classroom and a plantation is time. How many times must we be made to feel like quotas, like tokens and coin phrases; diversity, inclusion.”
8. Emma Watson’s speech at HeForShe
Emma Watson has a place in the hearts of most of my generation – after bringing Hermione Granger to life on our screens. However since her Harry Potter days ended, she has become a passionate warrior for the gender equality movement, and has presented countless impressive speeches.
Favourite quote: “We all belong to a long history of people who have made sacrifices. Some groups much more than others. In order to make indefinably large contributions to our modern lives.”
9. Waleed Aly’s Gold Logic acceptance speech
With a generous balance of humour and serious reflection, Waleed’s acceptance speech was watched by Australian viewers, and both widely appreciated, and contested.
Either way – it makes it a great speech. It invoked thought and opinion, and that’s what it’s all about.
Favourite quote: “I want to claim this award on behalf of a couple of people. People like this guy who I’ll call Demetri, who none of you will know. He’s a guy who came up to me about a week ago – and he did something that most people don’t do. He didn’t come up to me to wish me good luck for tonight. He came up to me, and through gritted teeth, commanded me to claim this award tonight. And it was a bit scary… but he communicated something to me – that this really, really mattered to him.”
10. Rebel Wilson’s BAFTAs 2016 speech
To end things on a very light note – this speech from Rebel Wilson had me in stitches.
Political correctness flew out the window – and the laughs poured in. It’s so important that we don’t take ourselves too seriously these days!
Favourite quote: “The BAFTAs have diverse members. And that’s what we all want to see in life isn’t it…. diverse members.”