25 Iconic Speeches You'll Want To Watch On Repeat

Nellie Eden
Nellie Eden

We've compiled a list of the most moving, inspirational and unforgettable public addresses. Be prepared to laugh, cry and gasp. Here are the most iconic speeches of all time.

1. Martin Luther King, I Have A Dream, 1963

This is quite possibly the most famous speech of the modern age. Fifty years ago, Dr King urged us to judge one another, 'not by the colour of our skin, but by the content of our character'. Epic.

2. Margaret Thatcher, The Lady's Not For Turning, 1980

Thatcher suggested to those asking for a 'u-turn' to 'you turn if you want to', in this forceful speech that cemented her larger-than-life reputation for nerves of steel and uncompromising determination.

3. Angelina Jolie, World Refugee Day, 2009

We defy you not to join the A-list actress and well up over her emotional account of meeting an Afghan family and enjoying a cup of tea with them before the war broke out. What a hero.

4. Winston Churchill, We Shall Fight On The Beaches, 1940

Churchill's declaration of war is a sombre but hopeful speech that rallies the British public to group together and remain optimistic. It's a stirring and epic speech that defined an era.

5. Barack Obama, The Audacity Of Hope, 2004

Obama's speech in Illinois was critical in his path to precidency. Commentators were stunned at his presentation skills and mass appeal in a state that had previosly been difficult for minority candidates to secure votes. 

6. President Kennedy's Inaugural Address, 1961

As well as being the youngest and first Roman Catholic president, JFK was also the first candidate whose image became as important as his politics. His assasination and widow, Jackie, became part of American history's most tragic stories.

7. Cuba Gooding Jr, Oscars Acceptance, 1997

Cuba Gooding's speech makes our list for two reasons – firstly, who can forget his epic performance in Jerry Maguire? (Show me the money!) and secondly for his sheer enthusiasm. His utterly endearing acceptance speech contains quite a few 'I love yous'. Smiles all round.

8. Ronald Reagan, Brandenburg Gate, 1987

In this moving speech, Reagan urges Gorbachev to tear down the Berlin Wall that had become the ultimate symbol of opression in Germany. 'This wall will fall. Beliefs become reality.' Epic.

9. Elizabeth Gilbert, Your Creative Genius, 2009

Eat, Pray, Love author Elizabeth discusses the expectations we put as a society on artists and shares the radical idea that, instead of the rare person 'being' a genius, all of us 'have' a genius – we just have to locate it.

10. Michelle Obama at Oxford University, 2011

The First Lady gave an inspirational speech telling a group of London schoolgirls they can achieve anything and when they do, to use that power to help others. *Melts*

11. Earl Spencer, Princess Diana's Funeral, 1997

 A nation mourned a Princess and Earl Spencer poignantly noted that despite the name Diana meaning the Goddess Of Hunting, she became 'the most hunted person of the modern age'.

12. Nelson Mandela, Release From Prison, 1990

A Human Rights pioneer, Nelson Mandela's release from prison saw a nation rejoice. Upon his emancipation, he gave a speech in which he told South Afica 'We Love You.'

13. Steve Jobs, Stanford Commencement Address, 2005

Steve's speech dedicated to graduates at Stanford in 2005 went viral instantly. The tech God muses on life, death, typography and being fired from Apple in 1995.

14. J. K. Rowling, Harvard Commencement Address, 2011

J. K. Rowling gave a speech entitled The Fringe Benefits Of Failure And The Importance Of Imagination. She joked the banners made the event feel like a 'Gryffindor reunion'. Love.

15. Hillary Clinton, Women In The World, 2012

Everyone suspected that part of Bill's success lay at the feet of his formidable wife. Clinton urges women to change and embrace the fact that 'women’s rights are still human rights'.

16. Maya Angelou, On the Pulse of Morning, 1993

African-American writer and poet Maya Angelou became the first black woman to recite a poem at a presidential inauguration of then-president Bill Clinton.

17. Malala Yousafzai, Worldwide Access To Education, 2013

Her bravery stunned the world, and this speech marked her 16th birthday. Malala urged all assembled to 'fund new teachers, schools, books and recommit to getting every girl and boy in school by December 2015'.

18. Sir Ken Robinson, Do Schools Kill Creativity?, 2006

Sir Ken claimed that schools kill creativity in his Ted speech from 2006. His groundbreaking argument makes a case for creating an education system that nurtures (rather than undermines) creativity.

19. Stephen Hawking, Questioning The Universe, 2008

Stephen asks big questions about the universe in his 2008 speech, covering huge topics like 'How did the universe begin?', 'How did life begin?', 'Are we alone?'. The speech cemented his status as a cultural icon and a symbol of progress and advancement.

20. Oprah Winfrey, Stanford Address, 2008

Winfrey's 'Inner Moral GPS' speech was a guide to finding happiness and rolling with the punches. The TV host said: 'I’m going to address my remarks to anybody who’s ever felt inferior, disadvantaged or screwed by life.'

21. The Queen's Speech, 1957

Although the footage seems quaint now, at the time, it was groundbreaking. She said: 'I very much hope that this new medium will make my Christmas message more personal and direct'. Her speech included the historic quote: 'I cannot lead you into battle, I do not give you laws or administer justice but I can do something else, I can give you my heart and my devotion to these old islands.'

22. Sheryl Sandberg, Why We have Too Many Female Leaders, 2010

COO of Facebook Sheryl looks at why a smaller percentage of women than men reach the top of their professions and advises women on how to get to the top.

23. Baz Luhrmann, Everybody's Free, 1999

Baz's speech is our only speech that's spoken over a score music. Narrated by the actor Lee Perry, the song reached number one in the UK and features witty advice like 'Be kind to your knees – you'll miss them when they're gone.' So true.

24. Scarlett Johansson, DNC Speech, 2012 

We know her as a Hollywood actress and pin-up girl, but Scarlett's impassioned and powerful speech proved she can also stand her ground as a poltical commentator and educator. She movingly talks of growing up in 'lower-income-housing' and of friends she still has who rely on the state for healthcare.

25. Sally Field, Oscars Acceptance, 1985

Famously gushing, and also missinterpretted, Sally Field's emotional speech saw her utter the lines 'I can't deny the fact that you like me, right now, you like me!'. She was parodying a line from her role in Norma Rae for which she had one the Oscar, but it went over many people's heads and the line has been satirised in many speeches since.



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