Home » Your TEDx Talks: 1 Example Of Parallelism In The Gettysburg Address For TED Talk Motivation
Nov,2022

Your TEDx Talks: 1 Example Of Parallelism In The Gettysburg Address For TED Talk Motivation

You’re not alone if you’ve never wondered about an example of parallelism in the Gettysburg address. However, this short, famous address by Abraham Lincoln embodies so many aspects of what contributes to a memorable speech.

This speech is a gem to learn from. It’s so powerful that taking note of its grammatical structure can dramatically influence your success at TEDx events or any venue you present a speech.

Imagine standing in the crowd, eyes on Lincoln, in the cool wind of mid-November. The country has been divided, and one of the deadliest Civil War battles had just occurred. Now your president is about to speak. How can his words match the gravity of the moment?

Austin Kleon, in his book, Steal Like An Artist, discusses the importance of learning from other creatives. He emphasizes the strength of drawing inspiration from artists and incorporating your learning into your own work.

After we discuss this momentous speech, you may want to follow a similar structure for your next public speaking event. It may surprise you just how influential parallel structure can be.

How Writing Techniques Impact Your Public Speaking

Abraham Lincoln delivered the Gettysburg Address on November 19, 1863, after the Civil War’s deadliest battle. Lincoln did not imagine his short speech would be regarded as one of the most famous speeches in the history of the United States.

In his speech, he even stated, “The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here.”

This is a famous line and for a good reason. Educators often include this speech as one to memorize. Whether or not you’ve studied all the various aspects of this speech, you likely recognize the famous beginning:

“Fourscore and seven years ago our fathers brought forth, on this continent, a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived, and so dedicated, can long endure.”

Lincoln’s repetition of grammatical techniques allowed him to grab the attention of his audience. In roughly two minutes, he delivered a speech that honored the men who gave their lives and has been remembered for centuries.

The writing techniques you use go a long way in the long-lasting impact of your speech. When individuals first begin public speaking, they often focus on delivery:

  • Nonverbals
  • Inflection
  • Speaking at a comfortable speed for listeners

While delivery matters, what you say can be as powerful as how you say it. Lincoln demonstrated this in just a few paragraphs.

What You Say Can Be As Powerful As How You Say It

While a confident presentation is essential, public speaking is not only about delivery. For example, Abraham Lincoln combined many of the foundational elements of the United States with a structure that helped listeners remember the importance of what he said.

Since we stated that what you say can be as powerful as how you say it, it’s crucial to break down one of Lincoln’s repeated grammatical uses: The example of parallelism in the Gettysburg Address.

So, what is parallelism? It’s simply the repetition of grammatical elements for the sake of harmonious effect. Parallelism may involve:

  • Repeating the exact same words
    • “I came, I saw, I conquered”
  • Echoing the pattern of construction, meter, or meaning

Here is an example of parallelism:

“This nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

Regardless of the delivery of this one sentence, power and meaning pulse behind what is said. What was said is so powerful because of the meaning behind his rhetoric. However, the power in Lincoln’s speech is highlighted by his use of grammatical techniques.

But what exactly does a case study of this famous speech have to do with your next presentation? How can studying the Gettysburg Address post your formal education help you deliver your next speech with motivation and impact?

The Gettysburg Address: 3 Factors For Success

There are three factors to discuss regarding the success of this famous address. To put it simply, why is the Gettysburg Address so memorable? In just a few minutes, Abraham Lincoln communicated three crucial points in a way that resonated with his audience.

When you incorporate these three factors into your speeches, you set yourself up for success. Your audience will be much more likely to remember what you said and why it is essential.

#1 – Find An Idea Worth Spreading

At the time of this speech, America was less than a hundred years old and had experienced the atrocities of the Civil War. America needed something to hold onto, and Lincoln gave it to them. Lincoln focuses on the idea of honor.

“We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting-place for those who here gave their lives, that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.”

Lincoln moves on to speak of the even bigger picture:

“But, in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate, we cannot consecrate—we cannot hallow—this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it far above our poor power to add or detract.”

The 16th President of the United States knew the idea of honor, liberty, and freedom needed to be spread. The people needed to find unity, even on the field of Gettysburg.

#2 – Layer In The Best Big Ideas

When crafting your talk, focus on the big ideas you want to communicate. The fewer ideas you have, the stronger they will come across. This might seem counterintuitive, but audiences need to be able to grasp what you say.

If you focus on one or two significant points, they are more likely to remember them. So let’s take a second example from the Gettysburg Address.

Lincoln started his first sentence by commuting his big idea, “Fourscore and seven years ago our fathers brought forth, on this continent, a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.”

One of the main contributing factors to the Civil War was the issue of equality, and this theme permeated the first line of Lincoln’s address. While he layered other essential ideas into his short speech, he started with his best big idea.

#3 – Reiterate Important Words And Phrases

Some of the best teachers and public speakers understand the power of reiterating important themes. While it may seem redundant, reinforcing words and phrases you want your audience to remember are vital.

While repetition is not a standalone in the three triads of what makes a great speech (ethos, pathos, logos), it is the key to learning. However, you can use repetition to appeal to your audienc’s emotion (pathos).

Marketers use this knowledge to sell products and services, Lincoln did so to communicate the foundation aspects of America, and you can apply this to your next speech.

“We here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

Notice Lincoln’s use of parallelism and phrasing to reiterate his message:

  • Of the people
  • By the people
  • For the people

You can apply this same technique to your speeches to increase your audience’s clarity. The more they hear repeating words and phrases, the more they will remember what you say.

Learn How to Create A Viral TEDx Talk!

Make Your TEDx Talk Stand Out With This One Technique

When you apply to TEDx, and they accept you, it can’t be stated enough that it’s essential to make the most of this opportunity. There are several factors that contribute to your overall success:

However, the one technique many speakers forget to use is the power of parallelism. Repetition, echoing the metering pattern, and reiterating your meaning all work together under this label.

There is power in repetition, and this strength is demonstrated in one of the most famous speeches in US history. Don’t underestimate the ingenuity of using words to strike your audience’s emotion.

Remember, appealing to emotions (pathos) is one of the three triads of a great speech. Parallelism subtly reinforces pathos by helping audiences remember what you say.

Author

Sarah Rexford
Content Writer

Recent Posts

Check out more great articles from the Thought-Leader Blog covering TEDx Talks, success mindsets, and everything else in between