Today marks the 150 year Anniversary of The Gettysburg Address, one of the best-known speeches ever given, especially in American history. President Abraham Lincoln delivered the message on Thursday, November 19, 1863, four and a half months after the Union Army defeat the Confederate Army at the Battle of Gettysburg. Ironically, in his address, Lincoln humbly said that ‘the world will little note, nor long remember what we say here’, paying his respects and pointing to those who gave their lives at Gettysburg and the founding principles written in 1776, referring to the Declaration of Independence. The two-hour oration of Edward Everett, given before Lincoln’s brief remarks, was slated to be the ‘The Gettysburg Address’.
It’s been said by speech makers and orators that it’s much more difficult to give a brief message than to deliver a lengthy one. With a lengthy one, few details need to be sifted out. While lengthy addresses like Edward Everett’s were common in his era, many people today do not have the attention span to embrace a two-hour speech, distilling as we listen. While Abraham Lincoln had not been feeling well that day, he delivered a powerful and well refined message that excellently summarized the American Civil War and the virtues of the American democracy.
When it comes to your brand messaging, brevity is always appreciated. Get down to business quickly. Do not waste your clients’ time. If a sentence does not add to the effectiveness of your speech or brand message, delete it. Also, be clear what your intentions are. Throughout his leadership, Abraham Lincoln wrote and spoke with clarity, consistency, and brevity in his messaging.
Clarity and Consistency
Abraham Lincoln was not only clear about his goals of uniting the states and abolishing slavery, he moved with great consistency. He dealt with many complex issues including the Civil War, Abolition, and the modernization of the American economy. He worked through much opposition from both his own Republican Party and the Democratic Party, while remaining steadfast in his beliefs. He held fast to both his religious beliefs and his beliefs in the foundation from which America was built. While he believed that all men are created equal, to be clear, he did not believe that men should be equal in all areas of life, but be given equal opportunity. After all, Abe was born in a poor family and was self-educated, but later became an astute politician and ranked as one of the most beloved U.S. presidents.
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.
Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battlefield of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that this nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.
But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate, we can not consecrate, we can not 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 world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that 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.