I’ve been reading a few speeches recently. Commencement season has just finished (at American universities), and Jon Lovett gave a speech on fighting bullshit that wasn’t terrible. I liked even more David Foster Wallace’s 2005 Kenyon address. I also stumbled recently across Kruschchev’s Secret Speech, which I’m intending to read.
I think it’s really hard to give good speeches. You have to have something to say, which isn’t always easy. Then you have to communicate it well, which is another challenge. And it can be difficult not to let expectations, either of what people think you will say, or of the medium itself, influence your message.