The Most Inspirational Speeches Of All Time

marie claire

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Hillary Clinton’s speech to the United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing.

Back in 1995, Hillary Clinton was famous for being someone else’s wife: as the First Lady to then President Bill Clinton. While in a diplomatically delicate situation (talking about women’s rights in China was always a difficult gig), Clinton’s clarion call was to declare that "It is time to break the silence... to no longer accept women’s rights as separate from human rights". (Her passionate list of violation of human rights start starts from 12.20). The applause still echoes.

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Steve Jobs Stanford commencement speech 2005

The inspirational former head of Apple gave a commencement speech to Stanford graduates that has outlived the man. It’s a calling to stay young, stay foolish and find something in your life that you love.

Julia Gillard’s misogyny speech


When Prime Minister Gillard finally reacted to the spiteful, sexist remarks she had received since stepping into office, her off the cuff speech from Parliament House went viral and women around the world cheered. To finally have a woman in power talk with such honesty and passion and personal experience about what many women face every day in their workplaces, resonated with a generation.

Paul Keating Redfern speech

In this speech given to a largely indigenous audience in Redfern Park in 1992 is still seen as a gamer-changer, as Keating became the first Prime Minister to acknowledge the impact of white settlement on aboriginal culture, and asked ``non aboriginal Australians to recognise that the problem starts with us’’ (from 6.00).

Charlie Chaplin’s speech in The Dictator

Charlie Chaplin’s first all-talking movie, The Great Dictator has outlived its original use as a stand against dictators like Hitler and Mussolini. But it’s final speech (where the new dictator talks about being a man of peace) still stands today as a speech against hatred and violence, towards a more kinder, loving society. It lives on as excellent YouTube fodder.

J.K Rowling Harvard Commencement speech

The famous writer of Harry Potter books tells the story of her humble beginnings in this much loved 2011 speech where she talks about fear of failing, the need to live fearlessly, the greatness of imagination, and what happens when you name a Death Eater after one of your college friends.


Obama victory speech 2008

On a night of firsts, President Barack Obama talks about the journey of a 106-year old African-American woman named Ann Nixon Cooper and the changes she had seen in her century (from 15:00).

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Sheryl Sandberg: Why We have Too Few Women Leaders

We couldn’t get to the end of this list without mentioning TED, and the COO of Facebook, Sheryl Sandberg ’s speech still stands the test of time. Her talk on the differences between how men and women work spread like wildfire and became the launching pad of her Lean In movement.

Brene Brown on vulnerability

The talk that has changed how we look at risk-taking, acceptance, shame, love, connection and intimacy told in Brown’s humorous, raucous way.