In the Honors Speaking and Writing class at Southeastern University, the students have been analyzing Martin Luther King’s speech “I Have a Dream.”

Slideology and Resonate author Nancy Duarte provided a unique visualization of the Dream speech, along with her commentary. Take a few moments to see how she breaks down the speech.

Martin Luther King Jr.’s speech analyzed by Nancy Duarte from Duarte Design on Vimeo.

For my Honors Speaking students: Please provide your reactions to the visualization of this speech as a comment below.

NOTE: And in a true case of small world, it turns out that Nancy Duarte is the sister of Southeastern University’s Dean of the College of Business and Legal Studies, Joe Childs. Nancy will be coming to our Southeastern University campus in late March. I truly look forward to meeting her in person.


26 Responses to “I Have a Dream,” Visualized by Nancy Duarte

  1. Chelsea Smith says:

    The way Duarte breaks down Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech is very interesting and really helps someone who has heard the speech multiple times really look into what King was doing in his speech. Color coding the different tools King uses in his speech is very helpful when thinking about the broad range of audience he was trying to reach. I visually shows you how much thought was put into his audience when writing it. Visually looking at the speech the way Duarte shows us helps to look at the flow when the actual speech was given. You can see the way King chunks it out and where he takes pauses to make his speech as effective as it can be. Duarte helps us see the tools used by a skilled speaker so that we may implement these same tools in our own speeches.

  2. Nancy Duarte says:

    Hi Barbara,

    Thanks for posting this. I particularly loved reading the student reactions to the piece. When I come in March, let’s see if our schedules would permit me to meet some of your bright students.


  3. Emily Hull says:

    Nancy Duarte presented an interesting viewpoint on the construction of Martin Luther King’s speech “I Have a Dream.” I have never seen a speech or piece of literature broken up into categories and color-coded the way Duarte did it. Her categories were very appropriately representative and made King’s speech and its effect easier to understand and analyze. I also agreed wholeheartedly with her observance of King being a “masterful communicator.” After seeing Duarte break up his speech into cohesive parts that crescendo into a climax of emotion proved how carefully King had constructed his speech to use his words to his best advantage. I also agree with Duarte on the subject of passion. We should all be passionate about one thing to the point that we speak out about it. As Christians, we should speak out about God. King had the right philosophy, as does Duarte.

  4. Michael Steiner says:

    When you hear something a few times its easy to become numb to it, no matter how relevant and engaging it may be. A perfect example would be MLK jr.’s ” I have a dream” speech. It is one of the most commonly heard speeches in the American education system and its easy to let it just fly over ones head. Nancy gives a different way of looking at the same information found in Dr. King’s, making it feel fresh and new. Her use of visualization brought the speech to life, giving listeners the opportunity to see his incredible speech in a new way.

  5. Laura Ackart says:

    Nancy Duarte explained and examined Martin Luther King Jr.’s speech “I Have a Dream” in a novel way. It allowed me to perceive the piece in a more organized manner. The way she broke up the speech into the what is and what could be sections enabled me to see where King was coming from, and where he intended to go. It also made me realize how important literary devices are. They help capture the audience’s attention and persuade them into believing what the speaker is saying. Duarte noted that King used repetition several times to prove an important point, and that he repeated himself at least three if not four times. She also mentioned his use of allusions, and the one that impacted me the most was the “My Country Tis a Thee.” Duarte explained why King had chosen this song, that not only was it a description of the future America, but also a slavery outcry of what the blacks had been deprived of. Her analysis helped me to look at King’s speech with a new perspective and appreciation of his writing and speaking skills.

  6. Maisie Katterhenry says:

    This visualization represents King’s “I Have a Dream” speech in such a unique way. I have been made aware in previous classes that this speech is full of literary devices, but until viewing this video by Nancy Duarte, I had no idea just how prevalent these devices—specifically repetition, allusion, and metaphor—were. Furthermore, we know that King’s audience was very affected by his speech, but the diagram in Duarte’s video shows exactly why it was so effective. Not only did he include powerful language, but he successfully organized the speech into a structure which excited the audience. His movement between the past—hardship—and the future—bliss—reminds the audience of what was and encourages them of what can be. We are all aware that King greatly influenced his listeners, but Duarte’s piece helps us to better understand how he managed to do this.

  7. Erin Houchen says:

    This was a very interesting outlook on the “I Have a Dream” speech. I especially liked that the different colors represented different aspects of the speech. I have never thought about King’s speech in that way and it is interesting to see all of the speech elements, repetition, and such within the speech. This outlook is very interesting and shows how truly great King’s speech was. I also liked how the diagram showed how the crowd responded as well. Overall, I liked looking at the “I Have a Dream” speech in a way that I have never heard or thought of before.

  8. Erica Earl says:

    Many of us were probably already aware of patterns in King’s speech such as repetition, metaphors, and familiar phrases from songs or literature. It can also be noted that some parts of the speech were designed to cause an uproar within the crowd to maintain an audio pattern. However, the visual aid that Duarte designed helped show me how often these rhetorical devices were actually used in the speech. The video showed how elements like phrases that were precious to the audience were keys to making the speech so influential. For example, I did not know that some of the lines from King’s speech were from songs used in the anti-slavery movement.

  9. Isa Ramos says:

    I found Nancy Duarte’s dissection of the speech to be very interesting. As a visual learner, who likes to get involved and interact with the text, the things I would want to make stand out when marking up the text, were already done and organized very neatly. It was an ingenious way of looking at his speech technically and being able to see, by her color-coding and pause-lines, the patterns and the literary devices Martin Luther King utilized so well.
    (I hate repeating what everyone else said, but I agree with them and feel the same way…)

  10. Ashley Haag says:

    I had never before thought about Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech this way before watching the video. I think and learn visually, so seeing King’s speech organized into a diagram with colors, bars, and shifts indicating his use of present and future events and predictions was really interesting and enlightening to me. The diagram took King’s speech to a whole new level for me, and I learned a lot more from it than simply reading and watching the speech itself.

  11. Chuck Norris says:

    If you listen to Chuck Norris delivering a speech, your head will explode into a bloody mess of brain matter.

  12. Justin Farmer says:

    It was interesting to analyze the speech in this way. Nancy Duarte brings to light several things that I never would have paid attention to on my own, like the fact that the speech has two main sections: “What Is”, and “What Could Be”. I also liked the way that she broke down the literary devices in the speech by color coding them. It was very helpful to see the speech broken down in that way.

  13. Peter Bigelow says:

    I enjoyed seeing Martin Luther King’s I Have A Dream speech being analyzed in this way. Seeing it broken down in terms of categories of phrase content rather than content of the speech as a whole, I was able to see how King used some speaking tools to increase the emotional impact of his speech. When analyzing the speech as a whole, it is hard to not get caught up in all the emotion that King employed, so breaking the speech down into smaller categories enabled me to look at it from a technical standpoint. In addition, the visual diagram showing King’s use of past and future tense during his speech as well as his pauses in delivery helped show the smooth rythym with which he presented his speech, as Duarte said is a trademark of Southern Baptist ministers. This video showed in a new way how talented of a communicator Martin Luther King was.

  14. Brittany Burns says:

    I really enjoyed Nancy Duarte’s presentation of Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have A Dream” speech. It was incredibly creative how Duarte broke the speech down into sections and colors based on the devices that King used. Duarte’s presentation expressed great insight of the speech and helped me understand King’s speech at a deeper level.

  15. Cory Cogley says:

    Nancy Duarte’s use of visually analysising Martin Luther King, Jr’s speech was rather impressive and interesting, especially because I need things to be spatially organized in order to remember them! I also found comments that she made abotu Kings style and rhetorical devices interesting. For example, she mentioned that King was one of the first Southern Baptist preachers heard nationally, and that his speaking style would have to be evaluated based on this paridigm which most of the country had never seen before. Also, she explained that repetition caused the audience to anticipate the repetition after the second use which makes the speaker almost requiered to use repetition 3 or 4 times. She also detailed how King used social references and repetition at the end of his speech in order to excite the crowd and connect his point to his audience. Over all, it was a very insightful analysis.

  16. Nancy Duarte’s use of visuals is a unique tool readers can use to look at Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech from a new perspective. I liked that she included contextual facts and explained how they play a role in the format of the speech. Duarte makes the speech easy to comprehend in the way she breaks down rhetorical devices. I also liked her idea of the “what is,” “what could be,” and “new bliss” sections of the speech. She brings to light strategies Martin Luther King Jr. purposely used to draw in his audience that might have otherwise been overlooked. This instrument is great for anyone, especially visual learners.

  17. Stephen Lee says:

    This video was a very informative yet interesting perspective of Dr. King’s speech. I was shocked on how much different material was used like metaphors and political references. Also, it showed me how Dr. King placed effective transitions in his famous speech which can make a massive imapct on any speech. Ms. Duarte pointed out that repetition is the most effective tool in making a point in addition to emphasizing Dr. King’s masterful use of this. The chart and color coding greatly aided Ms. Duarte’s analysis. All of these things make this a magnificent understanding of one of the greatest speeches of all time.

  18. Emily Faison says:

    I found Duarte’s breakdown of King’s “I Have A Dream Speech” to be intriguing because I had never seen this speech analyzed in this way. This visualization helped to recognize many of the techniques King used in his speech as well as illustrated King’s mastery of his references and allusions. Duarte’s color-coding was very effective in highlighting King’s points as well as his technical style. The transcription and graph helped me to see King’s communicative skills in a new way that is helpful to a Speech student and useful in building up personal speaking skills.

  19. Brianna Kuck says:

    I have never seen “I Have a Dream” by Martin Luther King, Jr. dissected so well. The format in which the speech was broken down was fascinating. Often times we don’t dig deep into the construction of a speech and how the techniques are fully employed, so this depiction was enlightening. I found it interesting the way that Duarte explains Dr. King’s use of repetition and metaphors, as well as spiritual, Biblical and historical literature. I had never realized the way that he used two metaphors to complete each other. This was a unique and helpful way of analyzing “I Have a Dream.”

  20. Molly Peterson says:

    Having analyzed Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech in high school, I had looked at the piece in a similar way to that used by Duarte. My English class had read the speech with the intent of picking out the metaphors, allusions, etc. While the exact structure hadn’t been used, it was enough like Duarte’s to strike a chord in my memory. Although familiar, this structure was a cohesive format that enabled me to reorganize my thought process as it applied to the speech.

  21. Kristan Legg says:

    This presentation of the famous “I Have A Dream” speech was a truly interesting view of how Dr. King composed his speaking style. Many people hear this speech and are captivated by its brilliance but few can decipher what it is that pulls them into the essence of King’s words.Through this analysis, viewers are able to see the elements to King’s speaking that make him so eloquent and effective. The viewer is also able to see the risks which king makes in order to pursue his audience’s interest and take hold of it once obtained. Overall this method was an inspiring model which allows the viewers to see how they too can become influential speakers.

  22. Forrest Saunders says:

    This visualization gave me new insight into King’s speech. I was able to see his use of repetition, metaphors and visual words, familiar songs, scripture, and literature, and lastly political reference. I learned and saw visually his transitions and different parts of his speech. This virtual graph was very insightful and helpful in fully understanding and appreciating the greatness of King’s “I Have a Dream” speech. In becoming an effective communicator it is useful to study those who are great at communicating and this visual analysis provided just that.

  23. I have never heard Martin Luther King’s speech described or analyzed in this way. In fact, it was a very interesting presentation simply because it was different from so many other descriptions of Dr. King’s speech. The visual aid provided was extremely helpful in seeing the structure of Dr. King’s speech, and I really appreciated the fact that she color-coated each different aspect of the “transcription” in different steps because otherwise it would have been confusing. This presentation was very affective in analyzing the presentation style and tactics that helped Dr. King give one of the most affective speeches of all time!

  24. Janae Muckle says:

    This presentation of the “I Have a Dream” speech was very different then anything I have ever seen. The visual aid that was used to demonstrate the different aspects of Dr. King’s speech was very helpful and unique. It illustrated very well how he spread things such as metaphors, Biblical references and historical references throughout his speech. Seeing his speech in this manner was an entirely new way to look at things, and I was very intrigued by the demonstration.

  25. Matthew Chenoweth says:

    I found this to be an interesting way of looking at the “I Have a Dream” speech. I enjoyed seeing how the this famous speech was broken down into references between the past and the future and different literary devices and material that King used. After listening to this presentation, I feel that I have a better respect for the speaking skills of Dr. King and the intricacy of his famous speech.