Top 10 most famous speeches of the 21st century
We looked at some of the most viewed and searched speeches in recent history—be they short or long—to figure out which ones are the most popular.
Looking at YouTube and TedTalk views alongside search volume data, we were able to compile a list of the most popular speeches. How many of the world’s most famous speeches have you watched or listened to? Were there any surprises? Interestingly, Simon Sinek appears twice on the list—a public speaker whose delivery and messages clearly resonate with many.
While you might not be surprised to see Hollywood star Leonardo Di Caprio at the top of the list, the reason he’s at the top may surprise you—if you didn’t already know, he’s super into environmentalism.
Using his platform at the Oscars to shine a light on global warming, an issue which affects us all, his speech left us with an unforgettable, and now famous, quote: “Climate change… is the most urgent threat facing our entire species… let us not take this planet for granted—I do not take tonight for granted.”
Our linguistic expert tells us why Leonardo Di Caprio’s speech resonated with so many of us and why it finds itself positioned as the most popular speech in recent years.
Taylor Hermerding (she/her), Editor in Didactics at Babbel, said:
"What Leo does really cleverly is link his award win, which was for his blockbuster hit, The Revenant, to the topic of climate change. He explains that the film is all about “man’s relationship to the natural world” and that during the time of its making - in 2015 - it was the hottest year on record. The film crew actually had to travel to the most southerly tip of the planet just to find snow to film in. Leo’s use of impactful language and intonation, in addition to his quick and controlled speech, allows him to deliver all of his points both purposefully and with a sense of urgency. It’s hard not to be moved by his words and jump on board with his climate change message. This speech was viewed by 43 million viewers (and counting)."
Top 10 speeches on learning a language
Of course, we also looked at the most popular speeches on learning a language. By speaking another language, we open ourselves up to learning about new cultures and understanding others.
While we know how rewarding learning a new language is, we all still need motivation to get there. So, who are the thought leaders inspiring us to learn a new language?
Looking at the most popular speeches for learning a language, we noticed search interest was relatively low and excluded that metric from the evaluation. However, the views speak for themselves. The YouTube views on some videos are so popular that it ranks top spot!
Revealing the secrets behind a good speech
So we now know what the most popular speeches from the 21st century are, but what topics grab the most attention? And who delivered them?
From our findings of ranked famous speeches we found out:
The professions with the most viewed speeches are writers, artists and poets
The great creatives of the world—our writers, artists and poets—deliver the most popular speeches.
The USA has the most watched speeches
Thought leaders in business, culture and politics—speakers from the USA take the trophy for the most popular public speakers in the English language.
Speeches related to the topic of business are the most popular
Our work day isn’t over at 5pm—it seems we love to think about how to improve our business and be the best at what we do, no matter the time of day.
Female public speakers are listened to the most often
The world is listening to famous speeches by women most often, as compared to their male and nonbinary counterparts. With the scores now on the doors, were there any surprises? Did you expect an Oscars speech to be the most watched speech in recent history?
The truth is that famous speeches start a conversation, or contribute to one, and allow us to connect with each other and potentially even change the world.
Your checklist to deliver a memorable speech
The world’s most popular speeches give us insight into what messages resonate, and crucially how those messages are delivered. But how could you deliver a memorable speech of your own?
Our expert linguists reveal the speech techniques and strategies used, and which you could try when writing and delivering your next speech.
Embrace emotion - The most powerful speeches are delivered from the heart. Take Matthew McConaughey’s 2014 Oscar acceptance speech, where he is seen to be overcome with emotion, with visibly watery eyes. Don’t be afraid to tear up a bit if the occasion calls for it, like a best friend’s wedding speech for example—it’s a great way to show someone you love them.
Tell a story - Take the audience on a journey with you, telling the story as naturally as possible.The story can be personal, but it doesn’t need to be. It should, however, be engaging and clear.
Slow down your speech - Barack Obama is a great example of a speaker who slows his speech, allowing space and time for the audience to follow the speech and absorb the message. If you’re nervous, it’s natural to want to speed up your speech, but as the old saying goes—practice makes perfect. Rehearse at home and practice by timing or recording yourself.
Use research - Depending on what your speech is about, of course, another important factor of public speaking is researching well and presenting original thought.
Keep it simple - in an age of diminishing concentration, speeches which are delivered clearly help the audience to stay engaged. To stay on track, consider what the one message you want your audience to take away actually is.