15 Inspiring Speeches You Need to Hear At Least Once

Estimated read time 5 min read

Have there been days when you can’t help but feel lost in life? When even dressing up in your smartest favorite shirt isn’t enough to steel you for another day of work? Most people occasionally experience such low moments, days, or even weeks.

While it’s normal to feel this way, sometimes all you need is some inspiration to get you back up.

Best 15 Inspiring Speeches

If you’re feeling uninspired, here are some famous speeches to rouse your senses.

#1 Martin Luther King Jr.  – March on Washington (1963)

“I still have a dream, a dream deeply rooted in the American dream – one day this nation will rise up and live up to its creed, “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal. I have a dream…”


At the height of the civil rights movement, Martin Luther King Jr. delivered this fiery speech calling for an end to racial inequality.

#2 Gloria Steinem – Address to the Women of America (1971)

“We are talking about a society in which there will be no roles other than those chosen, or those earned.”

In a passionate speech at the founding of the National Women’s Political Caucus, feminist activist Gloria Steinem spoke in favor of an equal society for all.

#3 Jim Carrey’s Commencement Speech at Maharishi University (2014)


“Take a chance on faith, not religion, but faith. Not hope, but faith. I don’t believe in hope. Hope is a beggar. Hope walks through the fire and Faith leaps over it.”

In this witty and heartfelt speech, the beloved comedian imparted life lessons of faith, fearlessness, and fun.

#4 J. K. Rowling’s Harvard Commencement Address (2008)


“The knowledge that you have emerged wiser and stronger from setbacks means that you are, ever after, secure in your ability to survive.”

The Harry Potter author recounted the various rejections that finally led her to success.

#5 Malcolm X – Prospects for Freedom Speech (1965)


“You can’t separate peace from freedom because no one can be at peace unless he has his freedom.”

The prominent civil rights activist delivered this fiery speech for Black liberation in New York City.

#6 Audre Lorde –  The Uses of Anger: Women Respond to Racism (1981)

“I cannot hide my anger to spare you guilt, nor hurt feelings, nor answering anger; for to do so insults and trivializes all our efforts. Guilt is not a response to anger; it is a response to one’s own actions or lack of action.”

In a keynote presentation at the National Women’s Studies Association Conference, feminist writer Audre Lorde spoke of how anger is a necessary response to racism.

#7 David Foster Wallace’s Kenyon College Commencement Address (2005)


“The really important kind of freedom involves attention and awareness and discipline, and being able truly to care about other people.”

Here, the celebrated author spoke about existing as part of a greater universe.

#8 Toni Morrison’s Nobel Peace Prize Lecture (1993)


“We die. That may be the meaning of life. But we do language. That may be the measure of our lives.”

Upon receiving the Nobel Peace Prize for Literature, Toni Morrison delivered this memorable speech on the power of language.

#9 Shah Rukh Khan’s TED Talk: Thoughts on Humanity, Fame, and Love (2017)


“So, I truly believe the future ‘you’ has to be a ‘you’ that loves. Otherwise, it will cease to flourish. It will perish in its own self-absorption.”

The globally renowned Indian actor delivered lessons about love, aging, and self-acceptance in this widely viewed address.

#10 Taylor Swift –  Billboard Woman of the Decade Award Acceptance Speech (2019)


“Women in music, on stage or behind the scenes, are not allowed to coast. We are held at a higher, sometimes impossible-feeling standard. And it seems that my fellow female artists have taken this challenge and they have accepted it.”

The first recipient of this award, singer-songwriter Taylor Swift spoke up about the systemic barriers women face in the music industry.

#11 Steve Jobs’ Stanford Commencement Address (2005)


“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.”

In this inspiring speech, the Apple co-founder spoke of pursuing dreams in the face of adversity.

#12 Maya Angelou – On the Pulse of Morning


“Lift up your hearts / Each new hour holds new chances / For a new beginning”

The second poet and the first woman and black person to speak at a presidential inauguration, Maya Angelou recited this poem to mark the beginning of Bill Clinton’s first presidency.

#13 Gabriel García Márquez’s Nobel Prize Lecture (1982)


“To oppression, plundering, and abandonment, we respond with life. Neither floods nor plagues, famines nor cataclysms, nor even the eternal wars of century upon century, have been able to subdue the persistent advantage of life over death.”

The celebrated Colombian author delivered this fiery speech on Latin America, colonialism, and modernity while accepting the Nobel Prize in Literature. Read the English transcript here.

#14 Malala Yousafzai’s Address to the UN Youth Takeover (2013)


“One child, one teacher, one pen, and one book can change the world.”

The young Pakistani survivor of a Taliban attack delivered this impactful speech at the UN on her 16th birthday.

#15 Sojourner Truth’s Ain’t I a Woman? (1851)

“I have as much muscle as any man, and can do as much work as any man.”

The prominent African-American abolitionist delivered this powerful speech on gender equality at the Women’s Convention in Ohio.

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