Ted Kennedy: A Voice of Power and Compassion

The public speaking community has lost a true orator today with the passing of Senator Edward Kennedy. Much will be written and spoken about this great statesman who spent his life as a public servant. As the remaining heart and soul of the rich Kennedy legacy he was indeed a champion of justice, fairness and compassion. Like his brothers before him, he believed that everyone was entitled to participate in the great American opportunity.


It’s true that Senator Kennedy was not a saint and that his controversial past was never far from scrutiny. But it is also true is that he was not a sinner. He was a gracious man with a magnanimous smile who used his vigorous intellect and forceful personality to power the American progressive movement. He made change happen.


And he was blessed with a unique talent. He possessed a rare gift, one that deepened the political dialogue, inspired commitment and action and was the envy of public speakers everywhere. It was that Kennedy voice, theatrical, eloquent and penetrating. His voice was a kaleidoscope of sound, at times rousing, thunderous and passionate; and then, sad, soft, beseeching. Every word he spoke carried emotional heft. And that’s what made us listen.


So I recommend that you listen to the following speeches twice, once for the pure intellectual and emotional experience of hearing and honoring a true orator and statesman; and once to uncover the incredible range of Ted Kennedy’s vocal power.


Listen for the following:


·         Deep vocal resonance

·         Booming volume

·         Long, comfortable pauses

·         Strong, punctuated inflection

·         Easy breathing

·         Lingering, musical phrasing

·         Rising and falling pitch


Democratic National Convention 2008



Edward Kennedy Iraq Speech at the National Press Club



Ted Kennedy Victory Speech in 1994



Eulogy for Robert Kennedy



The Dream Shall Never Die