Monday, January 23, 2017

The Eloquent Woman's weekly speaker toolkit

Savvy speakers keep up with my wide-ranging reading list on women and public speaking by following The Eloquent Woman on Facebook, where these links and articles appear first. I always collect them here for you on Mondays as well. It's a great way to expand your public speaking knowledge:
Get involved in more conversations on public speaking with The Eloquent Woman. Follow our Facebook page, read great quotes from eloquent woman on Pinterest, follow me as @dontgetcaught on Twitter or track when others tweet about the lack of women speakers on programs via @NoWomenSpeakers. Learn how to be a better panel moderator with The Eloquent Woman's Guide to Moderating Panels.

Friday, January 20, 2017

12 famous protest speeches by women

Today is inauguration day in the U.S., when a new president takes office. Tomorrow, women from all over the world will march in Washington, D.C.--where I live--and in 30 more cities in the U.S. and around the world, and I will be with them, along with a houseful of guests who are coming to join me.

In honor of the Women's March on Washington tomorrow, let's take a look at women speaking in protest. They used the streets, legislatures, bus tours, protest marches, memorial services, conferences, and farewell events to lodge their opposition, and to rally audiences to their points of view. All of these speeches are part of The Eloquent Woman Index of Famous Speeches by Women, so you will find--where available--full text and audio or video of the speeches at the links below. And I've picked a quote from each to inspire you:
  1. Coretta Scott King's "10 Commandments on Vietnam" took notes for a speech found in her husband's pockets when he was assassinated, and wove them into this fierce protest speech, adding a special message on women and activism. Great quote: "The woman power of this nation can be the power which makes us whole and heals the rotten community, now so shattered by war and poverty and racism."
  2. Emmeline Pankurst's "Freedom or Death" speech was part of her U.S. fundraising tour to support the British suffrage movement, but was no less powerful than her speeches on the street. On the violence of her movement: "You cannot make omelettes without breaking eggs; you cannot have civil war without damage to something." 
  3. Sister Simone Campbell and the "Nuns on the Bus" tour brought the protest speeches to a multi-city U.S. tour shedding light on the impact of federal budget cuts on poverty, health, and education services. On the collective movement: "Our solidarity is what will keep us from slipping into isolation, loneliness and depression. Because the only time we are fully human is when we are connected to each other."
  4. Dolores Huerta at the Delano Grape strike march capped a boycott and a 300-mile march to the California state capital to protest working conditions for people working for the state's grape growers. (I'll think of this while marching a considerably shorter distance tomorrow.) On why they marched in public: "You cannot close your eyes and ears to our needs any longer, you cannot pretend that we do not exist, you cannot plead ignorance to our problem because we are here and we embody our needs for you."
  5. Texas state senator Wendy Davis's filibuster, aimed at delaying consideration of a strict anti-abortion bill, was delivered for over 11 hours while wearing pink sneakers. It's a feat of stamina and conviction. No transcript for quotes, though.
  6. U.S. senator Margaret Chase Smith's 'Declaration of Conscience' shared her opposition to the chilling anti-Communist witch hunts of her Senate colleague, Joe McCarthy, as he sat in the chamber before her. Here's a hammer of a quote: "Freedom of speech is not what it used to be in America. It has been so abused by some that it is not exercised by others."
  7. Kavita Krishnan spoke on safety and India's rape culture at a protest march there in the wake of the brutal gang-rape of a young woman, taking the protest to the door of Delhi's chief minister. She tackled the 'safety' take head on: "All us women know what this ‘safety’ refers to, we have heard our parents use it, we have heard our communities, our principals, our wardens use it. Women know what ‘safety’ refers to. It means – You behave yourself. You get back into the house. You don’t dress in a particular way."
  8. Anita Hill's U.S. Senate testimony about Clarence Thomas was reluctantly done. But once asked to testify about her sexual harrassment by the U.S. Supreme Court nominee, she said, "I could not remain silent." And that's as good a definition of protest as there is.
  9. Rose Schneiderman on the Triangle Factory fire shook up a memorial service for female garment workers who died in a tragic and preventable fire, protesting the conditions and the complacency of the audience with quotes like this one: "I would be a traitor to these poor burned bodies if I came here to talk good fellowship. We have tried you good people of the public and we have found you wanting."
  10. Patricia Arquette's Oscar speech about equal pay used the platform of an award acceptance speech to spark a real movement in which women actors began to ask for equal pay for their work. Her forthright statement: "To every woman who gave birth to every taxpayer and citizen of this nation, we have fought for everybody else’s equal rights. It’s our time to have wage equality once and for all, and equal rights for women in the United States of America."
  11. Sojourner Truth's "Ain't I a Woman?" speech, one of the most famous women's speeches ever, may never have contained that line. But here's a powerful quote: "I am a woman's rights. I have as much muscle as any man, and can do as much work as any man. I have plowed and reaped and husked and chopped and mowed, and can any man do more than that?"
  12. Betty Friedan's call for a women's strike was part of her 1970 farewell speech as she stepped down as the National Organization for Women's first president. The call for a strike astonished her audience, but inspired a real strike not long after, with word pictures like this: "The women who are doing menial chores in the offices as secretaries put the covers on their typewriters and close their notebooks and the telephone operators unplug their switchboards, the waitresses stop waiting, cleaning women stop cleaning and everyone who is doing a job for which a man would be paid more stop."
Get involved in more conversations on public speaking with The Eloquent Woman. Follow our Facebook page, read great quotes from eloquent woman on Pinterest, follow me as @dontgetcaught on Twitter or track when others tweet about the lack of women speakers on programs via @NoWomenSpeakers. Learn how to be a better panel moderator with The Eloquent Woman's Guide to Moderating Panels.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

How are you referred to in speeches--your own, and those of others?

She was a newly minted corporate CEO, looking at a fresh draft of a speech written by her speechwriter.

"What does being a mother have to do with our policy positions?" she asked me. "And why do I have to talk about being the first woman CEO here? Or being a woman at all?"

Great questions. The speech draft in question had lines like this:
  • "As a mother, I take our safety rules especially seriously."
  • "Being the first female CEO in our industry is a real thrill."
  • "Having been the first woman to manage operations in our industry, I bring a special perspective to the work ahead."
These kinds of questions from clients help me dig deep. And here's what I explained: If you want to be an exemplar on women's issues in your industry, that's worth emphasizing. If you have an initiative up your sleeve that will increase the number of women in industry, your female-ness might be worth a mention. But if not, it's your choice to omit the sentences that say, "Hey! I'm a woman! That's unusual!" And you might just want people to see that you are a woman, and leave it at that. You might apply this test: Would a male executive refer to his gender here in the speech? If not, what's your reason for mentioning your gender?

I also explained to her that these sentences are almost reflexive for speechwriters, particularly in Washington. Often, you'll hear them say they want to "humanize" the woman speaker by talking about her motherhood--as if the woman is not human otherwise. Too bad if you neglected to have children for this purpose. Inserting references to "as a woman, I...." or "as a mother, I...." are lazy ways to take credit for your gender, or make use of it. You may well want to do that, and I certainly don't object to it. Just make sure it's a choice of yours, speakers, and not something being thrust upon you. If you or your speechwriter need some ideas, you'll find more of them in my post, Do all your references to women in speeches cast us as "mothers, wives and daughters?"

As a coach, I think you, the woman speaker, needs to take charge of how your speeches--and those of others--refer to you. What does that mean in real terms? I think it's a two-step process:
  • Talk to your speechwriters, formal or informal: Anyone who is preparing remarks for you needs to know whether you do or don't wish to emphasize motherhood or being a woman. Don't be afraid to say, "This is me" or "this isn't me," and why. Ask them to describe you in a variety of ways: CEO, voter, business leader, entrepreneur, volunteer. You get the idea.
  • Take charge of your introductions: I once attended an awards banquet in which notables from the organization were asked to introduce the honorees. One male executive got up and talked about the winner of a lifetime career achievement award solely in terms of her loving husband and children. Her work accomplishments were completely ignored. (Was it a coincidence that the introducer's wife doesn't work outside the home? I doubt it.) You can head that sort of experience off at the pass by saying, "I'd like this emphasized in the introduction," or just providing some points for the introducer to make. You can read Speechwriters, don't write differently for women. Write differently for men for more ideas.
Those of you who are professional speechwriters don't need to wait for the women speakers you support to speak up. Ask them what their preferences are, and heed them.

Finally, I know many readers may feel self-conscious asking to be referred to in a particular way, but if you don't set the specifications, you're just letting others control how you--and other women--are seen. Is that really what you want?

(Creative Commons licensed photo by Rubbertoe)

Get involved in more conversations on public speaking with The Eloquent Woman. Follow our Facebook page, read great quotes from eloquent women on Pinterest, follow me as @dontgetcaught on Twitter or track when others tweet about the lack of women speakers on programs via @NoWomenSpeakers. Learn how to be a better panel moderator with The Eloquent Woman's Guide to Moderating Panels.

Monday, January 16, 2017

The Eloquent Woman's weekly speaker toolkit

Savvy speakers keep up with my wide-ranging reading list on women and public speaking by following The Eloquent Woman on Facebook, where these links and articles appear first. I always collect them here for you on Mondays as well. It's a great way to expand your public speaking knowledge:
Get involved in more conversations on public speaking with The Eloquent Woman. Follow our Facebook page, read great quotes from eloquent woman on Pinterest, follow me as @dontgetcaught on Twitter or track when others tweet about the lack of women speakers on programs via @NoWomenSpeakers. Learn how to be a better panel moderator with The Eloquent Woman's Guide to Moderating Panels.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Famous Speech Friday: Meryl Streep's Golden Globes speech

In the world of Hollywood stars, few are as beloved as three-time Oscar winner Meryl Streep, who took home a lifetime achievement award from the Hollywood Foreign Press at the Golden Globe awards this week...and walked away with "most stunning speech" in the process.

She took out notes at the beginning, but clearly went without them or the teleprompter for much of this speech. Streep began by riffing on Hugh Laurie's remark that Hollywood...foreign...and press were all vilified by the incoming U.S. president, and then showed her attention to detail about people in describing what Hollywood really is:
But who are we, and what is Hollywood anyway? It’s just a bunch of people from other places. I was born and raised and educated in the public schools of New Jersey. Viola was born in a sharecropper’s cabin in South Carolina, came up in Central Falls, Rhode Island; Sarah Paulson was born in Florida, raised by a single mom in Brooklyn. Sarah Jessica Parker was one of seven or eight kids in Ohio. Amy Adams was born in Vicenza, Italy. And Natalie Portman was born in Jerusalem. Where are their birth certificates? And the beautiful Ruth Negga was born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, raised in London — no, in Ireland I do believe, and she’s here nominated for playing a girl in small-town Virginia.
After talking about the year's brilliant performances by her colleagues, Streep went after the president-elect, without mentioning him by name:
But there was one performance this year that stunned me. It sank its hooks in my heart. Not because it was good; there was nothing good about it. But it was effective and it did its job. It made its intended audience laugh, and show their teeth. It was that moment when the person asking to sit in the most respected seat in our country imitated a disabled reporter. Someone he outranked in privilege, power and the capacity to fight back. It kind of broke my heart when I saw it, and I still can’t get it out of my head, because it wasn’t in a movie. It was real life. And this instinct to humiliate, when it’s modeled by someone in the public platform, by someone powerful, it filters down into everybody’s life, because it kinda gives permission for other people to do the same thing. Disrespect invites disrespect, violence incites violence. And when the powerful use their position to bully others we all lose.
The speech--one of the few for which there was pin-drop silence in the hall on a night when attendees talk right through the award acceptances--resonated beyond the audience in front of Streep, drawing irate tweets from the president-elect. Other observers noted that she aptly targeted the critique most meaningful to him (performance). But there's no question about the speech's impact and reach. What can you learn from this famous speech?
  • It wasn't about her: Streep didn't waste much time talking about herself in this speech, and devoted it to others. Over and over, her fellow actors remarked on that anomaly in an acceptance speech as they reacted later. 
  • This was one helluva industry awards banquet speech: Take away the glitz and bling, and these awards ceremonies are not much different from your industry convention's awards banquest. Streep addressed the issues of the industry and the event sponsors--the press that covers Hollywood--as any smart industry award winner might do.
  • She captured the audience inside and outside the hall: Streep didn't just name-check her fellow actors, but shared information specific to the individuals she saluted, and captured the concerns of the audience in the hall with her words. But she also attracted the attention of the wider audience, from the president-elect to those regular citizens watching at home. That belies a thoughtful approach, one focused on the detail.
  • She pulled her punches: The subtle aspects of this speech are well worth a study, making it all the more powerful. She didn't need to say "the new president is treating the job like a Hollywood performance." Instead, she just began by describing it as a performance, and let the audience figure out her subject. She didn't have to raise her voice. And touches like that made her audience listen, closely.
I have a rant building up about those who call most women's speeches "emotional," and this was such a one. But in fact, Streep's delivery was heartfelt, measured, calm, and powerful--all better adjectives than "emotional" for this stunner of a speech.

You can read the full transcript of the speech here, and watch it below.

Meryl Streep Receives the Cecil B. DeMille Award at the 2017 Golden Globes

Get involved in more conversations on public speaking with The Eloquent Woman. Follow our Facebook page, read great quotes from eloquent woman on Pinterest, follow me as @dontgetcaught on Twitter or track when others tweet about the lack of women speakers on programs via @NoWomenSpeakers. Learn how to be a better panel moderator with The Eloquent Woman's Guide to Moderating Panels.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

London workshop: Creating a TED-quality talk, April 3

I've been coaching speakers at the TEDMED conference and speakers on TEDx stages around the world for six years...and have trained many more corporate and nonprofit executives to learn how to give presentations in this distinctive way. Now I'm bringing my small-group workshop on creating a TED-quality talk to London for the UK Speechwriters Guild and European Speechwriter Network. Read on for the details!


What previous participants say


I debuted this workshop in April in Cambridge, UK, at the Spring Speechwriters and Business Communicators conference, and also have offered it in Washington, DC. Now it's getting its debut as a standalone, day-long workshop in London. UK workshop participant Dr. Lucy Rogers gave the talk she worked on during the workshop at InspireFest 2015. She said, "Immediately after the talk I had some great feedback – both on twitter and in real life. I even got asked if I had given it as a TED talk – and that I should. I was really chuffed by this - I was aiming for the “TED Quality” talk that Denise had highlighted in her workshop."


What you'll learn


Using examples from different TED formats, I will help you think about how to go beyond merely mimicking this popular style to create your own original and compelling TED-style talk. You'll discover how to plan for the video as well as for the stage, and how to think about your delivery, as well as your talk structure and presentation. You'll learn how and why TED presentations engage, inspire, intrigue, surprise, and put forward "ideas worth sharing." Specifically, you will learn:
  • How to get past the obvious and identify the real story that will become your script
  • Vulnerability, intrigue, and more: The qualities that take TED talks viral
  • What to leave out of your talk
  • Structures and how much you can get into the shorter formats
  • How to decide whether you benefit from using props, slides, or a demonstration
  • Considerations that will help you plan for the video
  • Top delivery tips specific to TED talks, from strong starts to gesture, pace, and vocalizing

Who should register


You should register for this workshop if you:
  • want to give a TED talk, or a TEDx talk, or a TEDMED talk, OR just want to emulate them, shake up your speaking style, get beyond a standard informational PowerPoint presentation
  • are intrigued by the idea of speaking without a lectern or notes, briefly and with impact
  • wondering how you can get your complex topic into a form that advocates just one big idea per talk
  • know, or suspect, that there's no one set format for TED talks...but don't know where to begin
You do NOT need to have a talk prepared to take this workshop, since the workshop is designed to walk you through the planning process. However, it will help if you can arrive at the workshop with some ideas about the "one big idea" you are hoping to communicate in your talk, and be prepared to discuss it.

You do not need to be a member of either speechwriters group to attend (although they are wonderful networks for speakers and speechwriters).

How to register

Register here for the workshop. Your registration fee of £649.00 plus £129.80 VAT also includes lunch and refreshments. Registration will remain open until 31 March, or until all seats are filled--but this is a small-group, interactive workshop, and seats are limited, so register soon!

Speechwriters: Don't be confused

I'm also leading a breakout group on "How to prepare your speaker for a TED talk" at the Oxford Speechwriters' and Business Communicators' Conference 2017 the previous week to this workshop, on 30 March. That's a much shorter, more focused session, and will not replicate the contents of the 3 April workshop in London. To attend that breakout session, you must be registered for the Oxford conference at the link above.


Want a bespoke training program instead?


Each year, I train a few groups of executives in bespoke training programs that result in a cadre of speakers who can give talks in the style of TED. Sometimes, their organization or company is preparing them for a major conference, or providing leadership training, or developing a group of eloquent messengers for their cause or company.

I've conducted this type of training for health care executives working for WellSpan Health in Pennsylvania; for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's Aligning Forces for Quality projects in 16 cities around the U.S.; and for The Nature Conservancy's Science Impact Project. You can read more about how this mix of workshop and 1:1 coaching works in my post on Coaching a cadre of conference speakers to give TED-quality talks. For more information about such a program for your executives, email me at eloquentwoman AT gmail DOT com.

Please join us!


I'm looking forward to helping another group of speakers figure out this engaging way of communicating ideas, and hope you can join us. Please do share this information with colleagues and friends who may be interested. I hope to see you there!

(Creative Commons licensed photo by TEDxStellenbosch)

Get involved in more conversations on public speaking with The Eloquent Woman. Follow our Facebook page, read great quotes from eloquent woman on Pinterest, follow me as @dontgetcaught on Twitter or track when others tweet about the lack of women speakers on programs via @NoWomenSpeakers. Learn how to be a better panel moderator with The Eloquent Woman's Guide to Moderating Panels.