Like most of the world, we at The Presentation School are deeply saddened by the loss of Nelson Mandela.  He was an amazing humanitarian.  One of the most selfless individuals to walk the worth, at least in recent industry, and definitely one of the most worthy of the Nobel Peace Prize.  He was also a FANTASTIC public speaker.

In honor of his genius, we’ve analyzed one of the most important speeches, his speech when he was finally released from prison.  You can check it out here:


Why was he so powerful?  So beloved?  Beyond the pure love and righteousness he oozed, these speaker qualities likely helped:

  • Humbleness.  He was not afraid to give credit where credit was due.
  • Positivity.  Even when talking about people who were essentially his enemies, he stayed focused on positive framing when it made sense.  Points to bring people together in hope.  Even when talking about the grimness of some of the South African people’s lives.  (but that’s not to say he wasn’t firm or a pushover)  He reached out non-Apartheid whites to help build a better South Africa, rather than just hating all white people.
  • Pumped up the crowd.  The cheers in the beginning of his talk gave everyone his audience something to participate in during his talk (as well as the movement to end Apartheid)
  • Speaks to the audience directly.  Sure his content around a civil rights movement is a lot more obvious than the typical presentation, but he goes further than many others have.  It’s clear he really thought about his people and what it’s like to be them and what’s truly important to them and focused on it.
  • Speaking in clear terms. He uses clear language.  You know exactly what he’s pushing for.  No jargon.  We all know he wanted freedom and what his definition of freedom was.  And he made it clear he was willing to die for it (maybe not the message you should give in a meeting, but passionate all the same)
  • Fairness.  He was one of the most logical and fairest human rights workers.  You can do this by putting yourself fin the shoes of all of your stakeholders, too.
  • Clear goals.  He gave clear actions to his movement.  No one was confused and everyone knew what they needed to do, with a clear definition for success.
  • Translations.  he translated his message for his entire audience.  This is something we can all do with our multi-lingual audiences.

And finally, have you seen his smile?  The amount of happiness and genuine love pouring out of that man was a force to be reckoned with.

Nelson, the world will deeply miss you.