Monday, January 30, 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:
  • Medusa, the original nasty woman: "These businesswomen, politicians, activists, and artists made the same 'mistake' that Susan B. Anthony identified when she commented on the lack of women’s voices in 19th-century newspapers: 'Women … must echo the sentiment of these men. And if they do not do that, their heads are cut off.' These women infringed upon the domain of men. The only response...To cut their heads off; to silence them." Important mythology for speaking women to know and understand.
  • Women in the wilderness: A look at the World Economic Forum, where women make up just 20 percent of attendees, from a woman's viewpoint. “'When men see a room full of people and 20 percent are women, they see 50 percent,' says Laura Liswood, secretary general of the Council of Women World Leaders, citing social science research."
  • Did you miss? This week, the blog looked at what happens when a man hogs the mic at a woman's march, and Famous Speech Friday shared Ashley Judd at the Women's March on Washington.
  • About the quote: Find more quotes like this one on our Pinterest board of great quotes by eloquent women.
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 27, 2017

Famous Speech Friday: Ashley Judd at the Women's March

Even if she hadn't demonstrated in action how you keep a man from hogging the mic as she took the stage, actor and activist Ashley Judd was widely considered to be the standout speaker at the Women's March on Washington last Saturday. But she didn't do it with a standard speech.

Instead, Judd announced she would be performing a poem written by 19-year-old Nina Davenport, who, like Judd, lives in Tennessee. The poem, called "Nasty Woman," after an epithet made by Donald Trump about Hillary Clinton during the 2016 presidential debates, comprised the rest of Judd's performance. And while it was short--clocking in at about 7 minutes--the poem and Judd's delivery was an energy boost for the crowd I estimate to have been around one million marchers.

None of the poem minced words, but these two paragraphs form what I think of as its core:
I am nasty like my bloodstains on my bed sheets. We don't actually choose if and when to have our periods. Believe me if we could some of us would. We do not like throwing away our favorite pairs of underpants. Tell me,why are pads and tampons still taxed when Viagra and Rogaine are not? Is your erection really more than protecting the sacred messy part of my womanhood? Is the bloodstain on my jeans more embarrassing than the thinning of your hair? 
I know it is hard to look at your own entitlement and privilege. You may be afraid of the truth. I am unafraid to be honest. It may sound petty bringing up a few extra cents. It adds up to the pile of change I have yet to see in my country. I can't see. My eyes are too busy praying to my feet hoping you don't mistake eye contact for wanting physical contact. Half my life I have been zipping up my smile hoping you don't think I want to unzip your jeans. 
She wound up the poem with a reminder:
And our pussies ain’t for grabbing. They're for reminding you that our walls are stronger than America's ever will be. Our pussies are for our pleasure. They are for birthing new generations of filthy, vulgar, nasty, proud, Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, Sikh, you name it, for new generations of nasty women. 
After the performance, Judd was criticized for using the word "pussy," and pointed out that it was the new president who'd used it first--the poem was written to reflect that. What can you learn from this famous speech?
  • Someone else's words are not a reason to be boring: Whether you're working with a speechwriter, a poet, or any other writer's writing, that's no reason to merely read their words. Judd put energy, vocal variety, and movement into her performance, making this a good example of how much a speaker can add to someone else's words.
  • For a gigantic crowd, share some energy: The marchers were crowded, and had been standing a long time, when Judd took the stage. She followed the longest-winded speaker, Michael Moore. So an energetic delivery mattered. The crowd connected, cheered, and listened with attention, as a result.
  • Gestures matter: Despite big screens for the crowd to see, Judd plays her gestures large and emphatic, a must for a large-audience event like this one.
Take a look at Judd's electrifying performance:

We're lucky to have video of the author, whose performance of her poem inspired Judd to ask to perform it at the march in Washington. Enjoy comparing them!

#NastyWoman by Nina Mariah (Live at State of the Word)

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 26, 2017

When a man hogs the mic at the the Women's March on Washington

"Who's speaking now?" asked one of the friends with me at the Women's March on Washington. The large screen nearest us had trouble with the livestream, so the images weren't always synced with the sound, or even recognizable. When I told her it was Michael Moore, the filmmaker and activist, she rolled her eyes. "He's going to go on too long. He always does."

And was she ever right. Moore, who gave a spirited speech and had many calls to action for the crowd, got carried away and began telling anecdote after anecdote. On a day when nearly 40 speakers and a dozen or more performers needed to take their turns, his was the longest, clocking in over 17 minutes. One of the few men on the program, he dominated it, making himself, in effect, a keynote speaker on a day when there were not to be any keynotes.

When we got home that night, after extricating ourselves from a crowd of what I estimate at a million marchers, my house guests and I decided to watch any of the speeches we could find online, projecting them on a large screen. After all, we'd been well back in the crowd, and wanted to hear clearly the content that had resonated with us during the march.

And that's when the discrepancies became apparent, because the timers on online videos don't lie. Woman speaker after woman speaker kept their remarks brief. They were prepared, sticking to ther notes and scripts so they wouldn't ramble. Yet staffers nudged them to keep moving or enforced time limits.

You can see it in their remarks. Most of the women kept their remarks under 10 minutes, and many were just around the 7-minute mark, suggesting that that was what had been requested. But some of the female icons of the women's movement were feeling rushed:
And whose fault was that? None other than Michael Moore, one of the only male speakers, and the one whose presentation took nearly as much time as all four of the senators and representatives taken together.

Despite scores of staffers milling about on stage, no one stopped or prodded him as they did the women speakers. In the crowd, we were getting restless. The rally before the march was scheduled for 3 hours, so we knew there would be a lot of speakers. In the age of short TED talks, 15 minutes can seem like an eternity. This talk was wearing thin on the listeners gathered.

And then there was the voice of actor Ashley Judd, booming out as she came on stage. "Michael!" she cried. "Ashley!" he said, repeating, "Ashley Judd is here!" as she launched right into introducing herself.

You can see it in this video clip, in the first few seconds. If you look closely, you can see Judd running out from behind Moore onto the other side of the stage:

Women's March on Washington: Ashley Judd Speech #WomensMarch

Moore stayed onstage, until it was clear that Judd was just going ahead with her own remarks. He never did finish his to-do list for the marchers, thanks to his own rambling.

It's a shame that the women speakers had to rush or just stop their remarks in what should have been their time to inspire, reflect, and encourage the crowd. It's a shame that the the women in the crowd didn't get to hear the women speakers at a measured pace, particularly as many participants expressed the feeling that they had no voice in the political process, and these speakers were being their voice for a day. It's a shame that the staffers who tugged on the sleeves of women speakers or turned off their mics or urged them to hurry up didn't do the same for Moore. Telling Angela Davis to wrap it up after just 2 minutes? That's shameful. Surprising Scarlett Johansen by turning off her mic? Ditto.

For Moore's part, he hogged the mic so effectively that it took Judd stopping him in just the right way, out loud and into a mic, and by taking the stage herself. It was clear that Moore understood at that moment that he'd gone on too long. But while he was talking, he wasn't rushed and he never appeared to feel the need to make sure--as other speakers did--that he stayed on time. Once he had the stage and the mic, others would have to act if they wanted him to stay on time.

That's privilege, white male speaker style. I was surprised to see it at this march, but it's a common occurrence in every day public speaking. I hope the next big event planned by the Women's March organizers takes this into consideration: The way you treat your women and men speakers on stage is noticed by the audience. On this day, it put the lie to the march's stated goals of support for women.

Most important, it's a reminder to women speakers that no one is going to clear a space for you to have adequate time for your remarks if you don't do it yourself. Even at a women's march, a man can hog the mic.

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.

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.

Monday, January 9, 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 6, 2017

Famous Speech Friday: Carrie Fisher roasts George Lucas

Boy, did we ever lose Carrie Fisher too soon. Fisher, who died at 60 late in 2016, was the child of Hollywood royalty, actors Eddie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds; Reynolds died the day after Fisher in one of the year's tragic one-two punches. Fisher also was an accomplished actor, screenwriter, humorist, and memoirist.

All of those skills came into play in a 2005 speech roasting Star Wars director George Lucas for the American Film Institute award he was being given. Nearly everything in it is said with tongue firmly planted in cheek. I've no doubt that Fisher wrote this herself: It is emblematic of her sardonic wit. And while it's tough to move a Hollywood audience of A-listers at yet another awards banquet, this speech stole the show in every way.

The speech is short, so I've had it transcribed for you below. Do watch the video at the end of this post to get the essential timing and delivery. What can you learn from this famous speech?

  • In a sardonic awards speech, one thing must ring true: Fisher's genuine praise for Lucas is in the second-to-last paragraph. It's wrapped, before and after, with fun and a roasting spirit, but the lines in the middle are a heartfelt salute to her friend and director. If you are honoring someone, even with a hearty helping of jest, don't forget the praise. Every speech has a job to do, and this paragraph does that job.
  • If there are in-jokes, include content all can appreciate: Most of this crowd would have seen the films to which Fisher refers, but this speech also includes content that's funny even if you weren't a fan of the franchise. Who wouldn't laugh at having their image made up as a shampoo bottle or Pez dispenser? This talk manages to offer an intimate, heartfelt tribute along with amusing perspective that a wider audience can appreciate.
  • Pace yourself: This speech is a series of jokes, designed to be told one after the other, an old-school method of delivery. But while it feels short and fast, clocking in at about 4 minutes, Fisher's delivery is nearly exactly at the 120 words per minute rate I recommend for most speakers. It's well paced, so that you can hear what she is saying and appreciate the content. Go and do likewise.

Here's the transcript:
Hi, I’m Mrs. Han Solo, and I’m an alcoholic. I’m an alcoholic because George Lucas ruined my life. I mean that in the nicest possible way. 
Fifty-seven years ago, I did his little ‘Star Wars’ film, a cult film that then went on to redefine what they laughingly referred to as “the face of cinema.” And now, sixty-five years later, people are still asking me if I knew it was going to be that big of a hit. Yes, I knew! We all knew. The only one who didn’t know was George. We kept it from him, because we wanted to see what his face looked like when it changed expression. [laughing audience] 
George is a sadist. But, like any abused child wearing a metal bikini chained to a giant slug about to die, I keep coming back for more. [applause] 
Only a man like George could bring us whole new worlds populated by vivid extraordinary characters, and providing Mark and Harrison and myself with enough fan mail, and even a small merry band of stalkers [laughing] – it’s lovely – keeping us entertained for the rest of our unnatural lives. [applause] 
George, the fact that you made me into a little doll that my first husband could stick pins into – a shampoo bottle where people could twist my head off and pour liquid out of my neck – “lather up with Leia and you’ll feel like a princess yourself!” [applause] … and yes, the little Pez dispensers so my daughter Billie could pull my head back and pull the wafer out of my neck every time she doesn’t want to do her homework – I suppose I don’t mind. 
And though amongst your many possessions you have owned my likeness lo these many years, so that every time I look in the mirror I have to send you a check for a couple of bucks.  
Not to mention you had the unmitigated gall to let that chick – the new girl, who plays my mother, Queen Armadillo, or whatever her name is? – she wears a new hairstyle and outfit practically every time she walks through a door! I mean, I bet she even got to wear a bra, even though you told me I couldn’t, “because there was no underwear in space!” 
I’m only slightly bitter, because YOU, my formerly silent friend, are an extraordinary talent, and let’s face it, an artist – the like of which is seen perhaps once in a generation, who helps define that generation – and who deserves every award I now spend the latter half of my Leia-laden life helping to hurl your way!  
And in conclusion, your honor, I hope I slept with you to get the job, because if not, who the hell was that guy?


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 5, 2017

10 questions to make you a more resilient speaker in 2017

I do an annual evaluation of my year--both personally and for my business--and I've found very useful this list of 10 questions by Paula Davis-Laack. She writes about resilience and other workplace topics. While I was doing my assessment this time, I realized these questions--with just a few tweaks--might work well for assessing your public speaking at this early point in the year.

Why assess your speaking experience? You may have had some goals for your speaking in 2016, but fallen short, and not be too sure about why that happened. Or perhaps you set no goals, but were still unsatisfied at the end of the year--one too many bad panels, or extra effort for a speech that didn't make the work seem worth the trouble. Maybe you accepted a speaking gig under some pressure, real or imagined, and regretted it. Or you may want to capture the good things that happened, something I always recommend to counter our built-in negativity biases.

I especially value these questions because they are tied to factors that help you develop resilience, something we all can use in public speaking. A more resilient speaker may be calmer and more sure of herself--even when saying "no" to a request--and be able to use tools and tactics that support her speaking. She'll be better able to handle stress. And when the inevitable unplanned-for change pops up, she'll take it in stride. She'll also make wiser choices that lead her to satisfaction rather than frustration.

With all that in mind, here's my gentle rewrite of Davis-Laack's questions, with public speakers in mind:
  1. When did you have fun as a speaker?
  2. What good risks did you take and how were you outside your public speaking comfort zone?
  3. What gave you the most meaning as a speaker?
  4. How did you handle the tough times in your public speaking this year?
  5. How did you become more authentic as a speaker?
  6. What healthy habits did you put into place, specifically to support your speaking or speechwriting?
  7. Who were your sources of support for your speaking?
  8. When were you too hard on yourself about a speech or presentation?
  9. How were you more mindful in your approach to public speaking?
  10. What did you learn about yourself as a speaker?
Once you have your answers, how do you put them to use in public speaking? If you had fun doing a particular type of public speaking, or with a certain type of audience, it's worth tugging on the experience to see what you might replicate going forward. You can take more and different good risks, try another set of healthy habits (while continuing what worked in 2016), and know when to ease up on yourself instead of being too hard on yourself in particular situations. And you can write a lovely thank you note to the people who were your sources of support. We can't reward that kind of behavior too much.

I would take the answers to what gave you the fun and the most meaning, how you became more authentic as a speaker, and what you learned about your speaking self, and figure out how to build those factors into your speaking gigs and opportunities going into 2017. If we are not to dread public speaking all the time, it needs to be fun and meaningful. If we don't want to feel like we're faking it, we need to bring our authentic selves to the task.

That might translate into saying "no" to offers to speak if they don't mesh with your principles or needs. I rarely say "yes" to last-minute requests to speak if I can discern that the timing comes from a lack of planning on the organizer's part, for example, or sometimes, even if that's not the case. Organizer intent aside, the last-minute request asks me to give up my preparation time, which for me is not only essential, but part of what adds quality to my speaking--and that is meaningful to me. Sometimes, it also asks me to fly across the country overnight and speak while jet-lagged, or some other awful travel arrangement. Again, not conducive to what adds meaning for me--so, no.

You also may wish to flip that around and ask yourself what factors would make you want to say "yes" to a speaking request. Think: What would make me a more resilient speaker this year?

Follow the links below to my Facebook or Twitter feeds to share how this exercise worked for you! Here's to a great public-speaking year for all of us.

(Creative Commons licensed photo by ebrkt, with alterations)

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.

Monday, January 2, 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.