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What we can all learn from this powerful D-Day speech

If you want to improve the persuasive power of your speeches – you can learn a lot from this powerful speech from D-Day.


d-day- barge


As you can imagine – the 70-th anniversary of D-Day is getting a lot of attention and reflection.


As a speechwriter (interested in history), I’ve been studying the speeches – including Ronald Reagan’s D-day speech from 30 years ago – regarded as one of the greatest speeches in history.

I encourage you to check out the links at the end of this post to listen to the interview with Peggy Noonan (who co-wrote the speech) and see the actual words.

I encourage you to read the words first – and experience if and how they move you.

Then watch the video that includes snippets from the speech AND Noonan’s comments about how there was a “speech within a speech” – to use the past to bolster political will at the time (when the US was still fighting the Cold War).


Reagan D-day


Also look out for techniques YOU can use in your speeches or presentations.

1. Set the scene near the start – use sensory language – sight, sound, smell and feel – to put the audience in the scene. Make them feel.


We stand on a lonely, windswept point on the northern shore of France.

 The air is soft, but 40 years ago at this moment, the air was dense with smoke and the cries of men, and the air was filled with the crack of rifle fire and the roar of cannon.

Does this put you in the scene? It does for me. It’s like a movie scene.

2. Ask questions and pause while the audience ponders important questions. Note how Reagan asks this of the Rangers – but the audience then, and even people like me reading or listening now – also ask themselves important questions.

You were young the day you took these cliffs; some of you were hardly more than boys, with the deepest joys of life before you.

Yet, you risked everything here. Why? Why did you do it?

What impelled you to put aside the instinct for self-preservation and risk your lives to take these cliffs?



3. Use the finish to have your call to action. What you want the audience to do?

Strengthened by their courage, heartened by their value [valor], and borne by their memory, let us continue to stand for the ideals for which they lived and died.


As Peggy Noonan says – the speech within the speech was to commemorate at the past AND to give a message to the present-day Allies to continue to stand together against tyrants. Remember the Cold War was still being waged at the time of Reagan’s speech.


I hope you enjoy these words as much as I did this morning. I look forward to studying the speeches from the current politicians gathered to commemorate the 70-th anniversary of D-Day.


Here are the links:


1.Reagan speech – words


2.Peggy Noonan interview







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I blog about fun pop culture stuff as well as more serious business communication tips.


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These days, lots of people and organisations need help with how to COPE with too much work, too much information, too many meetings, delivering difficult news, business writing, effective e-mail, e-mail overload, cross-cultural communication etc. I like to help people COPE.






One comment on “What we can all learn from this powerful D-Day speech

  1. doubleshot media
    April 11, 2018

    Reblogged this on doubleshot media and commented:

    Another earlier post that’s back on my radar this week as I am writing speeches. The same techniques can be used for speeches and presentations by business leaders as well as political leaders. I was NOT a fan of Reagan’s politics but I did respect his speech delivery and the fine writing by his speechwriter, Peggy Noonan.

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