These are 25 of the best speeches delivered around the world in 2018. Many of our speech spotters are in the USA and Australia, so apologies for the bias in that direction. We’d love suggestions for speeches we’ve missed, and hope to make Speakola a truly international site. Obviously the act of comparing across politics,arts, sport and society is inherently flawed, but these have been favourites with our readers.
There were so many great speeches from the Parkland students but this one was so raw and so contemporaneous that it swept the world. The writing is superb, the gun lobby arguments passionately and systematically torn apart. She has a rallying cry. She marches on through tears and trauma. Our vote for 2018’s best speech, and followed up with something similarly impressive at March for Our Lives. Full transcript and video.
Could the two best speehes of 2018 really have been delivered by teenagers? For years we have documented Al Gore’s climate emergecncy speeches, including this masterpiece in ‘An Inconcenient Sequel’’ but 15 year old Thunberg speaking in Poland this year was the voice of the true inheritors of this crisis, and she spoke with grit and poise. There was a fierceness to it too. ‘You have ignored us in the past and you will ignore us again.’ Incredible. Full text and video.
One of the most gifted orators on the planet, this took the world by storm. In the moment of #metoo, she used the little known story of Recy Taylor, to speak of abuse, and also generational sexism and racism. The #Oprah2020 hashtag was alive before she’d reached her conclusion. A masterful piece of speechmaking. Text and video.
So much goodwill for one of the comic giants of her generation, particularly given the health battles of past year. But this is still an enornously high pressure gig. You’ve got to be funny in a Mark Twain acceptance, and this delivers on every level. No new 2018 speech was more read on Speakola. Video and transcript.
The French PM hit every note in this speech that was particularly special for Australians. The town of Villers-Brettoneux has long recognised the role Australians played halting the German advance 100 years ago, under the leadership of General Monash. Phillippe quotes Erich Remarque and All Quiet on the Western Front in one of the most beautiful pieces of political writing we’ve read. Video and transcript.
This poem, with its themes of depression and suicide, is an incredible achievement in wriitng and performance. Not to be missed. We thank Irishman Stephen Murphy for the opportiunity to republish his spoken word piece that went around the world. Video and transcript.
From the moment he begins, ‘we’re here because my daughter has no voice’, this distraught father, flanked by his sons, delivers the most devastating few minutes on the Parkland tragedy, Not a gun control speech, but certainly an ‘America needs change’ speech. A true tearjerker. Video and transcript
This is top drawer sports speechgiving, in the emotional aftermath of a Superbowl triumph. We want our big, bearded, muscle-bound winners to show their humanity, and this is just lovely. Great Roosevelt quote. The best way to thank the ones who helped the most. Video and transcript.
This powerful poem tells of rape, sexual assault, its prevalance and the need for change. “It's 2018 and I've realized nobody is safe long as she is alive”. Delivered at the Women’s March in January, and a must listen if you missed it the first time around. Text and video.
This is how to do controlled outrage and anger. British Labour MP James Lammy was speaking about a Home Office scandal that involved the wrongful deportation and wrongful imprisonment of Windrush generation arrivals to the UK, mainly from Carribean countires in the early 70s. Video and text.
An impromptu attempt by a very talented and compassionate leader to diffuse tension and anger amongst teachers in New Zealand. Adern hadn’t planned to speak, and spoke without notes, and yet this was a wonerful piece of plain and intelligent speaking, in a charged scenario. Video and transcript
The illustrator of Julia Donaldson’s many masterpieces, Scheffler spoke as an EU citizen who has made his name in the UK about the tragedy of Brexit and the attitudes it reflects. “But I also accept it with a heavy heart and maybe even a slightly bitter feeling – it feels like a consolation prize. Or even a farewell gift. “ Text and video.
A giant of Australian sport and a pioneer in the growth of Paralympic sports around the world, Fearnley’s in absentia video speech reflects a champion in every capacity. A seamless and brilliant presentation. “There was too much shame and there wasn’t enough hope. So our sport was born out of that hope. “ Text and video.
Obama is as gifted an orator as we have seen in the 21st century. We have heard less from him in these two years than most others, but his offerings on Trump and the GOP going into the 2018 miderms were typically stirring. Text and video
American soccer great Wambach talks about life transitions such as sporting retirement and college graduation, and links to the transitions society needs to achieve. “Women have learned that we can be grateful for what we have while also demanding what we deserve. “ Text and video.
“With John, it was a value set that was neither selfish nor self-serving.” In the bitter partisanship of 2018 politics, this was a refreshing antidote. The Meghan McCain eulogy for her father was also terrific - with a sharpened barb for President Trump. Text and video.
We include her in our speeches awards every year. Such a natural speaking talent, and still only 24. In this speech, she shared the hate mail she receives, and became the first person to use the c-bomb in Briitsh parliament. Text and video
This remarkable surgeon shared a story about treating a self harming prisoner, and the challenges graduates will face committing to treating all human beings equally. Great lesson in including compelling anecdotes and stories in speeches of all types. Text only, no video available.
The NPR host and This American Life guru delivered a memorable speech about truth, reporting, and chasing a dream career in a competitive field. Full of anecdotes and wisdom, as the best commencements are. One of the speeches of 2018. Text and video.
The youngest man in the Australian Senate, and the only one with cerebral palsy, Steele-John is advocating for the extension of terms in the aged care royal commission to include abuse of minors and other people with disabilities in state institutions. He names the many people who have died in recent times. Heartbreaking stuff Text and video
This one is from January. Raisman spoke for herself and other victims of Larry Nasser’s crimes as doctor for the USA gymnastics team. Powerful, affecting, strong. “We are here, we have our voices, and we are not going anywhere. “ Text and video
Bob Murphy has a knack for words, and this speech reflects a lifetime of love for the game of Australian rules footy and his privileged role in it. Few athletes manage insight, humour, philosophical flair and storytelling with Murphy’s level of articulation. Outstanding. Text and video.
Actor and activist John Franklin Stephens has Down Syndrome and spoke to the UN about awareness for the condition, the full and fulfilling lives that are led, and to speak out against genomic testing. “I truly believe a world without people like me will be a poorer world, a colder world, a less happy world.” Text and video
The only person to be nominated twice, this one is again brilliantly structed with her six minutes and twenty seconds of silence, and immensely powerful. “Fight for your lives before it's someone else's job.” Text and video
Flake may be loathed by people on both sides. Republicans for being a liberal turncoat. Liberals for being all talk and no action. He is, undoubtedly, a clear and coherent speaker, and his two Senate speeches against Trump in 2017 and 2018 stand as two of the greatest speeches of the era. Text and video.
What speeches have we left out? Where was the order wrong? We’d love to hear from you in the comments, or on social media (Speakola facebook, or @speakola_ on twitter) Thanks to everyone who has shared speeches and allowed republication.
Have a wonderful and eloquent 2019.
Tony Wilson @byTonyWilson