Friday, July 3, 2015

5 famous speeches by women who fought for women's votes

The women around the world who fought for votes for women did so in part because they were often forbidden to speak in public--even at conferences where they were official delegates. Getting the vote, to them, meant getting a voice in public..something you might think about, eloquent women, when you have the chance to vote. Their speeches in this collection from The Eloquent Woman's Index of Famous Speeches by Women are by turns funny, poetic, fierce, and well-argued--just what we expect from eloquent women. We have speakers here from five different nations. Enjoy these historic and heartfelt speeches (and don't forget to vote):
  1. Denmark's Jutta Bojsen-Møller, a longtime activist for women's votes, gave the victory speech after the Danish parliament ratified votes for women and other disenfranched citizens in 1915. At age 78 when she gave this speech, she'd waited a long time to say her piece.
  2. America's Susan B. Anthony asked "Is it a crime for a U.S. citizen to vote?" This speech was intended to make the case for an experiment in which she was arrested for voting in an election at a time when women were forbidden to do so.
  3. Canadian suffragist Nellie McClung stole the show in a 1914 mock debate titled "Should Men Vote?" It took the real words of men who opposed votes for women and turned the tables, so all could hear just how ridiculous the opposition sounded. That's still a smart tactic today.
  4. England's Emmeline Pankhurst, a great force for women's votes, gave her "Freedom or Death" speech in America, where she came to escape more jail time and to raise funds. The title sums up her opinion on the stakes in the quest for women's votes.
  5. Egypt's Huda Shaarawi opened the first Arab Feminist Conference in 1944 speaking of all rights for women, including voting, and was an early voice busting the myth that Islam is not compatible with modern feminism.
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Thursday, July 2, 2015

Using cartoons in presentations: How to do it right

Too many speakers rely too much on cartoons in presentations--and often, the cartoon is funny but irrelevant to the topic. And I suspect that most speakers ignore cartoonists' intellectual property rights, reproducing cartoons without credit or payment. But there are better ways to incorporate cartoons in your presentations. Here's how to do it right:
  1. Pay for them: Do the right thing, eloquent women: You may be pleasantly surprised at how reasonable the prices are for licensing cartoons for presentation purposes. Try The New Yorker Cartoon Bank, where licensing a cartoon for a presentation costs just $9.95 and the database is 120,000 cartoons strong (but keep in mind that most of them feature white men). Or do a "cartoon" search in stock photo services like Shutterstock (yes, they have more than photos). I like to hunt down novel or targeted cartoonists like Tom Fishburne of Marketoonist, who charges for presentation or website use but lets blogs share his cartoons at no charge, or John Atkinson's wry Wrong Hands cartoons (email him for licensing details).
  2. Draw them yourself: I know two presenters who incorporate cartoons in their presentations, and they often teach others to do the same. Both are in England: Martin Shovel is a speaker coach and cartoonist who offers Cartooning for Communicators workshops--one's coming up this month--and Steve Bee cartoons about pensions online and during his talks. I've worked with both of them at the UK Speechwriters Guild conferences. Drawing your own cartoons during a presentation is engaging, and avoids all the copyright issues.
  3. Display credit: Most cartoonists incorporate this in their cartoons, but it's good form to caption them with the website and/or artist name.
  4. Use them sparingly: If you're not drawing them yourself during a talk, I prefer no more than one cartoon in a presentation. If you choose to use more, use them sparingly--a sprinkling, rather than a parade, of cartoons will keep them from drowning each other out.
  5. Look for cartoons with few words: A truly visual joke with few words will engage your audience rather than make them feel they're reading another slide. Good visual jokes in cartoons make people look and think, as well as laugh.
  6. Don't start with the cartoon: For decades, speakers have been putting cartoons at the start of a presentation to warm up the audience and get some early laughs. But it's a trite approach and one that fritters away the high attention you have at the start. Instead, save your cartoon as a grace note later in the presentation, and jump into a compelling, composed start without art.
  7. Think through that humor: Ask yourself whether the humor in your cartoon is appropriate to your audience--all of your audience. Think about who will get the humor, and who may be confused. When you're presenting a cartoon, say, in English, will everyone in your international audience understand? Will all age groups find it funny? Don't wait till the morning of your presentation to vet those cartoons.
(Tom Fishburne cartoon from Marketoonist)

Got a panel coming up? Whether you're a conference organizer, speaker, or moderator, you'll have a better panel--and a sparkling discussion--if you plan with The Eloquent Woman's Guide to Moderating Panels. At just $3.99 in all ebook formats, it's like having a coach with whom you can prepare and bring on stage with you.

Monday, June 29, 2015

The Eloquent Woman's weekly speaker toolkit

Fans of The Eloquent Woman on Facebook see links to good reads, resources and ideas from other sources there, in addition to posts from the blog. But you won't miss a thing, since I'm summarizing that extra content and putting it here on the blog for all readers to see. Here's what I shared in the week just past:
Got a panel coming up? Whether you're a conference organizer, speaker, or moderator, you'll have a better panel--and a sparkling discussion--if you plan with The Eloquent Woman's Guide to Moderating Panels. At just $3.99 in all ebook formats, it's like having a coach with whom you can prepare and bring on stage with you.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

President Obama's eulogy for Rev. Clementa Pinckney

This was not a slow news week in the United States, with landmark Supreme Court decisions at home and terrorist attacks elsewhere in the world. But one of the best speeches of President Obama's presidency took place with far less coverage than those events, at a funeral service for Rev. Clementa Pinckney, one of 9 worshippers killed by a white supremacist during a Bible study in Charleston, South Carolina. Even as this speech was unfolding, readers were messaging me to make sure I had it in my sights.

The event also carried another distinction for the President. From the National Journal:
Charleston is the 17th mass-casualty shooting of his presidency, the 17th time that one incident claimed at least three lives, bringing to 149 the death toll from these bursts of gun violence on his watch. It is the 11th time that he has issued a statement in reaction. And Friday will be the seventh time that Obama has spoken at a memorial, trying to comfort the bereaved and make sense out of the handiwork of a killer.
It's believed that the President has spoken at more such memorials than any other President, and he has been dubbed the United States's "mourner-in-chief." Or maybe it just feels that way, thanks to live-streaming and YouTube. What was so special about this speech, and what can you learn from it for your own?
  • Work your acknowledgments into the context of the speech, rather than just load them all at the beginning. The President, in describing the salutory qualities of Rev. Pickney, called him, "A man of service who persevered, knowing full well he would not receive all those things he was promised, because he believed his efforts would deliver a better life for those who followed. To Jennifer, his beloved wife; to Eliana and Malana, his beautiful, wonderful daughters; to the Mother Emanuel family and the people of Charleston, the people of South Carolina." Letting the names of the acknowledged flow as context about the people he was serving makes eminent sense--and makes the acknowledgment more meaningful.
  • Structure and task shape a good speech: Speechwriters and speaker coaches say "every speech has a job to do," and that task should be reflected in the speech's structure. Here, the phases of the eulogy are crystal clear, each with its task: A description of the life of the deceased person being honored, the first task of a eulogy. And in this case, because of the significance of the crime, the lives of those slain with him and the role of the black church in society. Making sense of a senseless massacre. The symbolism of the Confederate flag and how it is seen differently in the wake of the murders. Our years of ignoring that symbol, and a call to action for how to behave differently. A conclusion that remembers the dead again, so that those worshipping leave with their names in mind. A theme about grace that winds its way through the speech to tie all that together. Do your speeches know their task and reflect it?
  • Connection is everything: Without a connection to your audience, you may as well read your speech in a closed soundproof booth. There's real feeling in this speech, and not just because the President adopted the traditional style of preachers for it. When he says the names of Rev. Pinckney's children and looks straight at them...when he urges the audience to understand that God was using the killer to a higher purpose...when he sings, rather than recites, 'Amazing Grace," he's connecting. This is a highly responsive audience, standing, clapping, and saying Amens aplenty, but the real points of connection are often quiet moments in this speech.
In his description of Rev. Pinckney's life, the President concludes with a thought that might be on any listener's mind: 
What a good man. Sometimes I think that's the best thing to hope for when you're eulogized -- after all the words and recitations and resumes are read, to just say someone was a good man.
Be sure your eulogies for others do the same. I think this speech will go down as one of the President's best and most moving. Read the transcript of this speech. Read it. Read it again. And by all means, watch it in the video here or below.



(White House photo by Lawrence Jackson)

Friday, June 26, 2015

Famous Speech Friday: Julie Andrews's 1964 Golden Globes speech

As modern film award acceptance speeches go, it's a nanosecond long. The couple of minutes in which actor Julie Andrews received her 1964 Golden Globe award for her role in Mary Poppins encapsulate joy, thanks, and humor, as any good award acceptance does. But hers had one thing more, the thing that made it famous: A deft back-handed compliment to the man who didn't cast her in the lead of a competing film, My Fair Lady. Not just any man, either: Her target was Jack Warner, president of Warner Brothers, in front of a film industry crowd that laughed as much in surprise as at the cleverness of her speech.

Like any good film, this has some backstory. Andrews was cast in the lead of My Fair Lady on Broadway in 1956, a role that requires serious singing skills as well as acting skills. The success of the stage version led to plans for a film. Warner Brothers paid an unprecedented $5 million for the film rights. And then they cast the decidedly non-singing actress, Audrey Hepburn--a choice seen as a major slight to Andrews.

But the move freed her to consider Disney's film of Mary Poppins, which is what she was acknowledging when she said, "And, finally, my thanks to a man who made a wonderful movie and who made all this possible in the first place, Mr. Jack Warner."

What can you learn from this famous speech, one of the shortest in our collection?
  • Shade thrown with a spoonful of sugar: Playing on the persona of her film character, always correct, Andrews managed a competitive one-two punch with such speed and charm that you might almost miss it--except that it wasn't lost on the audience at all. She merely praised Warner and thanked him, but the meaning was clear. It's a great bit of acting: She stayed in character as the sweet, polite woman while showing her competitive spirit.
  • Speed and brevity help with a surgical strike: This rapid-fire bit of cleverness was over almost before it began, aiding its impact. Andrews didn't need to elaborate, and got the last laugh as a result. Andrews, a good actor, turned to look at Warner with sincerity as she began her last sentence, then turned straight to the audience, starting to laugh at her own joke--two good non-verbal underscores to her verbal punch.
  • Use your endings for impact: Strong starts are important, but endings offer another opportunity for impact. Placing her dig at the end let Andrews leave the stage with the audience (including Warner) still reacting and applauding.
Andrews got the last laugh in another way, winning best actress awards at this ceremony and at the Academy Awards. Watch the very short video, which includes interviews that tell the story, as well as the speech itself.


Got a panel coming up? Whether you're a conference organizer, speaker, or moderator, you'll have a better panel--and a sparkling discussion--if you plan with The Eloquent Woman's Guide to Moderating Panels. At just $3.99 in all ebook formats, it's like having a coach with whom you can prepare and bring on stage with you.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

4 unusual books for tackling your public speaking fears

There are loads of books targeting public speaking fear head-on. But I like a slightly different, off-center approach, without the usual suspects. Here are three currently available books I share with clients who are nervous, anxious, or fearful of public speaking, along with a much-anticipated fourth option:
  1. Art & Fear: Observations on the Perils (and Rewards) of Artmaking is a book I was given when learning to make art. Not unlike other forms of performance, making art requires you to be brave enough to express yourself, then show that to one person, then get useful critique from a teacher or peer, then put it on public display, then charge for it. Each step has its perils and rewards...and don't they sound a lot like what speakers do? A great short read.
  2. V Is for Vulnerable: Life Outside the Comfort Zone is Seth Godin's picture book (the A for anxiety is shown above), and while he's hoping to inspire public-facing marketers and entrepreneurs, again, there's much in common with public speaking here, among the most vulnerable of exercises.
  3. Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking, Susan Cain's best-seller, will remind you that part of your hesitation about speaking may be introversion rather than fear. But as public speaking is one of her fears, and well-covered in this book, you'll get the nuances and differences here, too.
  4. Presence: Bringing Your Boldest Self to Your Biggest Challenges from social psychologist Amy Cuddy--the woman who made "power posing" a famous tactic for boosting confidence--is now available for pre-order. I'm so looking forward to a book by this great speaker and researcher, whose TED talk on power posing is now the second-most-watched TED talk ever.
Got a panel coming up? Whether you're a conference organizer, speaker, or moderator, you'll have a better panel--and a sparkling discussion--if you plan with The Eloquent Woman's Guide to Moderating Panels. At just $3.99 in all ebook formats, it's like having a coach with whom you can prepare and bring on stage with you.