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Make An Impactful Impression: Cues from Martin Luther King Jr.

Every third Monday of January we honor the life and lasting legacy left by Martin Luther King Jr. He was looked at as one of the greatest orators in American history and a leader who knew how to make an impactful impression wherever he went. The question that is often asked of Dr. King is, how was he able to develop and sustain the movement he created?

Assuming one of his goals was to articulate his vision for greater equality in America and stimulate a peaceful message of change, Martin Luther King Jr. learned how to create an experience and leave lasting impressions on the people he touched. On a hot August afternoon nearly 53 years ago in 1963, a recorded 250,000 people descended upon the grounds of the Lincoln Memorial not knowing that what they were about to hear, would not only leave an impactful impression on them, but evolve into the fabric of American history.

Here is a question worth pondering over, how was it possible, in a time period with out social media, email, cell phones, text messages etc. did a quarter of a million people know the time, the place, the date and the agenda that August day? The answer is simple, because of the impactful impression and reputation that Martin Luther King developed with anybody that would listen to him; word was bound to spread like wildfire. Knowing the kind of hatred, ridicule and persecution he was up against, Martin Luther King Jr. knew what he wanted and was determined to tell the world his message. Leonardo Da Vinci once said, “People of accomplishment rarely sit back and let things happen to them. They go out and happen to things.”

According to an article released by, Dr. King’s “I have a dream speech” was partially improvised upon seeing the turnout that day. “One might imagine standing before an audience and reading Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech verbatim, but it is a stretch to believe that any such performance would sow the seeds of change with, as Dr. King put it that day in Washington, the "fierce urgency of now." The vast crowd, the great speaker, the words that shook the world — it all comes as a package deal.”

Taking a lesson from one history changing speech, one can conclude that there are three things that will help you make an impactful impression no matter the situation you find yourself in:

  • Unwavering confidence

  • A strong understanding of your audience

  • Knowing the full scope of what you’re trying to accomplish

Martin Luther King Jr. was exceptional at creating an impactful impression. Why? He was fighting for something he had immeasurable passion for. Never underestimate the power of determination and passion.


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