What the Gettysburg Address teaches every presenter

Five lessons from Abraham Lincoln’s 270-word speech that you can apply to your next talk.

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Here are five key lessons from Lincoln’s speech that you can apply to your own speeches.

Lesson No. 1Anchor your arguments solidly

When trying to persuade your audience, one of the strongest techniques you can use is to anchor your arguments to statements that your audience believes in. Lincoln does this twice in his first sentence:

Four score 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.”

Among the beliefs that his audience held, perhaps none were stronger than those put forth in the Bible and Declaration of Independence. Lincoln knew this, of course, and included references to both of these documents.

First, Psalm 90 verse 10 states:

“The days of our years are threescore years and ten…”

(Note: a “score” equals 20 years. So, the verse is stating that a human life is about 70 years.)

Therefore, Lincoln’s “Four score and seven years ago” was a Biblically evocative way of tracing backward 87 years to the signing of the Declaration of Independence in 1776. That document contains the following famous line:

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