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.

Monday, June 22, 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.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Famous Speech Friday: Danielle George's Royal Institution Lecture

The Royal Institution's annual Christmas Lectures are a public forum that most scientists only dream of--and for most of the Lectures' 189-year history, dreaming was as close as a woman ever got to the Faraday Stage in RI's London headquarters. The Lectures began in 1825 as a way to introduce young people to cutting-edge science with the help of spectacular demonstrations and experiments. The list of Christmas Lecture luminaries includes Michael Faraday himself, John Tyndall, Carl Sagan and Richard Dawkins. The first woman to give the Lecture was neuroscientist Susan Greenfield--in 1994.

That makes this year's speaker, University of Manchester engineer Danielle George, only the sixth woman to give the Christmas Lecture. George is a radio and microwave communications expert who has worked on everything from massive telescope arrays to Rolls Royce engines. Teaching is also a particular passion of hers, so the Christmas Lecture was a natural fit for her. Her "Sparks Will Fly" series is a rollicking good time of visually dazzling experiments, enthusiastic audience participation, and a London-wide stage that includes an office building turned into a video game and guests beamed in via hologram.

George is the first woman engineer to give the Lectures, and the first one to do so while eight months pregnant. There was a back-up plan in place, in fact, for a BBC commentator to give the Lecture if George's daughter arrived early. In an interview with The Independent, George said she hoped the sight of her on stage would be inspiring:
Hopefully, it sends a subconscious message that as long as your baby is fine and you're feeling fine it doesn't stop you from doing anything. So you can get on with your work, still make a difference and still change the world in a positive way--and you don't have to stop for nine months because you are pregnant."
There's a lot to learn from George's Christmas Lecture, but here are a few of the things that stood out in this famous speech:
  • Say "yes" to a speaking invitation. "When I first received an email asking if I might be interested in presenting the Lectures I thought it must have been sent to me by mistake so I ignored it," George recalled. "But then I received a second email a few days later which convinced me that maybe it really was a genuine request and not spam after all!" I hear a little bit of the "imposter syndrome" in this reply, and it's one of the reasons why women sometimes turn down speaking invitations. Why not say "yes" for a change, and see what happens?
  • Prepare, practice, and practice again. In an interview with The Eloquent Woman, George told us that she began working with a producer at RI in September to write a draft script. "This was mainly due to the type of lecture I wanted to give and the logistics involved," she said. "I wanted each lecture to have a grand challenge and spend the lecture working toward that challenge." Filming began in December, "and we usually had one rehearsal the day before and then a full dress rehearsal on the morning of the filming. There were certain parts we wanted to practice more than others, such as when I had a guest on the lecture," George said.
  • Be flexible with your speech if necessary. Each lecture has George moving into the audience to find children willing to help out with a variety of experiments, along with demonstrations that have to be moved on and off stage as George speaks. Both of these features meant that George couldn't be strict about sticking to a word-for-word script. "I had a screen to prompt me on what I was talking about but I didn't script my actual words so I was happy that we didn't need to re-take parts lots of times," she said. "I loved the feeling that I honestly didn't know how each grand challenge would end--would we complete it successfully? What would I do or say if it didn't work? It kept me on my toes."
I'd also add that this was one of those rare lectures that gets to the heart of how scientists think and work. George shows how researchers need to break down those "grand challenges" into smaller and more manageable tasks, and she demonstrates that seesaw of fear and excitement while waiting for an experiment to unfold. When things go a little bit wrong (I'm wincing with you, assistant who took a paintball in the side!), George doesn't shrug it off or explain it away. It's all just science in its messy glory.

You can watch all three parts of George's Christmas Lecture at The RI Channel. We especially like the second in the series, shown below. Which one is your favorite?

Sparks Will Fly: How to Hack Your Home

(Freelance writer Becky Ham contributed this Famous Speech Friday post. You, too, could be lucky enough to hire her to write for you.)

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 18, 2015

Losing your fear of Q&A: 7 reframes and tactics

In the February webinar I did with the editors of Technically Speaking, I was taken aback when some of the participants--including one of the hosts--confessed that they plan to fill all the time allotted to ensure that there's no time for the part of the speech they dread the most: Questions and answers.

I'm a staunch advocate of leaving time for audience questions. In my view, it should comprise fully half of the time allotted for your talk. Here's why: Audiences come to hear speakers and to contribute to the discussion. Nearly every person listening to you either came to the session with a question in mind, or has developed one after hearing you speak for just a few minutes--both good signs that you've chosen your topic well and are engaging them.

Q&A paves the way for future speaking gigs, too. Leaving out question time can make the difference between good reviews and not getting asked to speak again. Think, too, of the reverse: For most speakers who do offer questions, the idea of no questions is seen as a type of public speaking failure. That's particularly true for public officials and political candidates, as we can see in Jeb Bush dubbing Hillary Clinton "scripted" for not taking questions. Nothing wrong with a script, by the way, and some formats or events just don't lend themselves to questions.

But those who fear and avoid Q&A aren't worried about the type of event and have already moved past the logical arguments. Here's more perspective and a few tactics to practice so you can become a fully skilled public speaker who doesn't fear questions or leave them out:
  1. Understand that not every question is a challenge: This was news to many participants in our webinar, and I see academic researchers in particular assume that questions are challenges. Not so. Sometimes the questioner is just plain curious, or wants to hear you talk more on the topic. Check your reaction (see number 4 below) and try answering as if it were just a truly interested person asking.
  2. If you suspect there's more to it, ask a question back: If you think the questioner has an agenda or is testing you, ask a question back. "Tell me why you ask the question in just that way?" or "I've never had that question before. Tell me more about what you mean" are both great ways to learn more and buy some time to think.
  3. Determine whether it's a question or a statement: Some audience members rise to their feet to share facts, ideas, or perspectives as a way of adding to the conversation. You can respond simply by thanking them for sharing the information: "That is indeed a big issue, and I'm so glad you brought that to our attention. Thank you!" may be all you need.
  4. Respond, don't react: Take a cue from the world of media training and make sure that you are responding, not reacting, to questions. If your first reaction to a question is to get angry or critical of how stupid it is, you are not ready to answer in a non-anxious way. 
  5. Work out your "I don't know" muscle: Many people feel they just can't admit not knowing something, and for them, Q&A is always going to be a problem. But if you can say "I don't know" when that's appropriate, you'll be a better and more credible speaker. Try out some clever ways to say it: "If I knew the answer to that, I'd be a millionaire!" or "I wish I knew that. We've been looking for that solution for a long time," are two good examples.
  6. If you're worried you won't know the answers, try planning your presentation so you leave out of it the information about which you're reasonably sure you will get questions. Leaving FAQs out of your talk lets the audience ask those questions naturally, and hey--you already know the answers. Lots of win for everyone.
  7. Plan for crickets: It's rare, in my experience, for audiences to have no questions. But you can look at What if nobody asks a question? for ways to prepare in advance for that problem, and at No, seriously: What if the room is silent during Q&A? for what to do in the moment.
Mostly, you want to aim for a focused, mindful, and non-anxious stance during Q&A. Yes, you can!

(Creative Commons licensed photo by UnLtd)

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 15, 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.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Famous Speech Friday: Kron & Tesori's unseen Tony Awards speech

We've covered all sorts of ways of keeping women speakers off the program, but this year, the Tony Awards for the best in Broadway plays and musicals, and its broadcast network CBS, found a new way to steal that show. When Lisa Kron and Jeanine Tesori were named the first all-female songwriting team to win a Tony for best musical score, the televised show cut to a commercial during their acceptance speech.

Only the live audience in Radio City Music Hall got to hear the speech at the time it was delivered. Kron also gave a stirring speech when she won for best book for a musical, using a metaphor based on a recurring dream she has that her apartment suddenly has more rooms than she realized:
And I’ve been thinking about that dream as I think about this amazing Broadway season because we all live in this big house and we’ve all been sitting in the same one or two main rooms and thinking that this was the whole house, and this season some lights got turned on in some other rooms, and we’re all like “Oh my God, this house is so much bigger than I thought!” 
We’re like “I didn’t know we have a garden. I didn’t know we had a freaking ballroom. This pantry is full of food—I had no idea.” The thing is, all those other rooms have always been there, and there has always been really interesting people in them, doing ravishing things. And wouldn’t it be so great that after this season we didn’t all just go back into the living room. This has been the most successful season in Broadway history because all of us have been going into all of these amazing rooms in our house, where we live together, that we haven’t been in before. You guys, our house is SO big. Please, let’s not just go back into the living room.
For their joint acceptance, Kron introduced Tesori and gave over that short time to her to carry a similar message forward. Tesori wove generations into her speech:
My grandfather, Dominic Venta, was a composer in Italy, he came to this country to try to fulfill that dream. He died when my mother was five years old. Working in a gas station....

And I didn't realize that a career in music was available to women until 1981. I saw the magnificent Linda Twine conduct "A Lady and Her Music: Lena Horne."

And that was my "Ring of Keys" moment. Which, by the way, that's not a song of love, it's a song of identification, because for girls, you have to see it to be it. And I'm so proud to be standing here with Lisa Kron.

We stand on the shoulders of other women who have come before us: Mary Rogers, Tanya Leon, Linda Twine.
"Ring of Keys," performed earlier in the show, is a song in which a young girl realizes she's attracted to women. At the moment when Tesori said, "for girls, you have to see it to be it," she didn't realize her own words would go unseen and unheard outside of the hall that night.

Of course, justice came swiftly on Monday as media covered the omission of the glass-ceiling-breaking speech, and social media spread the videos around widely, an "in case you missed it" that everyone missed. What can you learn from these famous speeches?
  • Metaphors help us reframe and process thorny issues: Kron's speech for her best musical book prize tackled all types of discrimination and omission in theatre production, not just gender bias, and did so with a simple and powerful metaphor. Without making the problem pretty, she used the metaphor to say, in effect, "You're missing lots of great theatre when you don't open up opportunities to women and people of color and the LGBT community," drawing a picture of a much bigger, more comfortable house to drive her point home.
  • Bear witness to history when you have the chance: Tesori appropriately marked the occasion and it's a good thing she did, since the broadcast didn't. When you have the chance to note an historic moment, do it. Some day, your words might be the only evidence.
  • Get wider recognition: You might say that being honored in front of their industry peers was honor enough, but in fact, these prominent awards translate into ticket sales, revenues, and career advancement--all things that can be diminished by missing their turn on television. You might think I'm exaggerating the need to get credit for your public speaking by publishing your text and videos, but if this can happen to two prominent Broadway songwriters, it sure can happen to you. Make sure you get the credit for your speaking. Things turned out all right for Fun Home: Winning best musical the same night resulted in quadrupled ticket sales in the days that followed, putting a price on the value of being seen in this way.
I'm delighted to be among the outlets giving these women speakers back their air time. Watch the video of Lisa Kron's speech here or below:



Watch the video of their joint acceptance, in which Kron graciously introduces Jeanine Tesori's speech here or below:



(Tony Awards photo of Kron and Tesori by Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images)


Thursday, June 11, 2015

From the vault: The science of nods while speaking



(Editor's note: This post, from our Speaking Science series, looked at the role of nods. To add to the collection of insights below, I'll add one more from Celia Delaney, who chaired the 2014 UK Speechwriters Guild conference: When she delivers a funny line, she gives a little nod afterward, to indicate to the audience that they can and should laugh. And it works.)

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: men and women communicate differently.

Are you nodding your head yes at this little nugget of truth? Are you nodding it vigorously and frequently? Several studies show that women engaged in conversation tend to nod more often and with more emphasis than men. What’s more, men and women both seem to pick up on this rhythm, and nod more frequently when talking to a woman than they do when chatting with a man.
What’s really going on here? Does a man feel like he has to act more like a woman when he speaks with one? Do women think it’s all right to be a “yes” woman among their own, but hold their heads in check when speaking with a man?

The answer has less to do with social manners and more to do with simple motion, say researchers at the University of Virginia’s Human Dynamics Lab: people adjust their nodding to match the head movements of their conversational partners, no matter who they are.

At the UVA lab, psychologist Steven Boker and his colleagues recorded the head movements of male and female students in the lab as they had short conversations with another student via video link. As the pair chatted about sports and spring break, the researchers used an elegant piece of technology to change the appearance of the video student’s face and voice in real time. Sometimes the students sitting in the lab saw a female face on the video screen when they were actually speaking to a man, and vice versa. (Watch the video above to see how this worked.)

But the researchers didn’t do anything to change the head movements of the video speakers, and they discovered that movements—not appearance--seemed to make all the difference .If a video speaker was a head-nodding woman, but her computerized image looked like a man, the lab students nodded right along with her.

"We found that people simply adapt to each other's head movements and facial expressions, regardless of the apparent sex of the person they are talking to," said Boker. “This is important because it indicates that how you appear is less important than how you move, when it comes to what other people feel when they speak with you.”

The head nod and other facial expressions such as lifted eyebrows are part of what language researchers call back channel cues. As a public speaker, it’s a route that can help you establish rapport with your audience. If you can get them nodding along with you, Boker said, you may be able to activate pathways in their brains that help them empathize with your feelings.

So yes, men and women do differ when it comes to communication styles. But maybe it’s reassuring to know that this is one case that has less to do with the battle of the sexes, and more to do with a meeting of the minds.

(Editor's note: This article in our "Speaking Science" series on the research behind public speaking was written by contributor Becky Ham.)


(Creative Commons licensed photo by rosarodoe with words added)

Monday, June 8, 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.

Friday, June 5, 2015

5 famous speeches by women that made secrets public

It's one thing to slip up and spill the beans in a conversation. But sharing a secret in a speech is a bold, risky and very public move. Rarely is it unplanned. On the contrary, each of these speakers had time to consider and decide upon a speech as the best opportunity to divulge her surprise. But the choice to share a secret in a speech is a particular move. With many less confrontive and public ways to make your private matters known, a secret-sharing speech can be seen as a declaration.

Why would you share a secret in a speech? In these five secret-spilling speeches by women, each speaker's secret became a teachable moment for her audience--and a transformative moment for herself. You can sense how important it was to each of these women to share her experiences. From racism, violence and cancer to religion and sexual identity, every one of these speeches is a powerful statement. They're all drawn from The Eloquent Woman Index of Famous Speeches by Women. Click through to watch video or read the text of these speeches and find lessons you can use to improve your own speaking:
  1. Essie Mae Washington-Williams said she felt "completely free" after publicly disclosing that she was the mixed-race child of a black mother and a segregationist U.S. senator, Strom Thurmond. She kept the secret until after her father's death, when she was in her seventies. Her statement needs no rhetorical flourishes to make it dramatic.
  2. Kayla Kearney came out to her high school assembly as a lesbian, during a special speaking program honoring Martin Luther King, Jr., with the theme "Time to break silence...about things that matter." The video of her statement went viral, and it's easy to see why this forthright speech resonated with so many, in the hall and beyond it.
  3. Minister Teresa McBain's admission that she is an atheist was her effort to stop leading a double life, and to define publicly what she'd long felt privately. Speaking up was the solution. She made her statement at a convention of atheists, in a talk that also got lots of attention well beyond the hall.
  4. Heidi Damon faced her attacker in court and divulged her secret: Her name. Up to that point, she'd been referred to as "Jane Doe" in the case of a man who attacked her and almost raped and killed her. Sharing this secret let her reclaim her identity, put a human face on the story, and encourage others to speak up.
  5. Betty Ford's 1975 speech to the American Cancer Society came at a time when admitting you had cancer just wasn't done in American society--it was whispered about, a source of shame. Using her role as First Lady of the United States, she gave this powerful keynote to cancer doctors as a bold public discussion of her mastectomy, and it prompted thousands of women to see their own physicians for a checkup.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

She couldn't imagine giving a TEDx talk, but "I did it! Thank you."

I've done lots of talks and workshops on public speaking, and it's always great to hear from the participants when they've put that learning to use. Here's a recent letter from London I received from someone who has attended my talks on public speaking for the Fabian Women's Network, where I shared advice on what goes into a TED-quality talk last year:
Dear Denise, 
I just wanted to drop you a line to say thanks for your excellent Eloquent Woman workshops. I am part of Fabian Women and attended your most recent sessions here in London. I must admit that when I attended the one on giving a TED talk I thought, well it it will be useful even though I can't imagine ever giving an actual TED talk.  
But then this April I was asked to give a TEDx talk at TEDx East End's salon here in London. Your advice from the workshops was invaluable, and I also got a lot of pointers from your blog too.  
Here it is - I can see much room for improvement, but I never would have been able to even consider it without having attended your workshops. 
Thanks so much! 
Kiri Kankhwende
Music to my ears, that is...and I hope it's inspiration for you, if you've ever hesitated to try something out as a speaker. Sometimes putting together what you learn in workshops and on blogs with a real invitation to speak can result in something like a TEDx talk! I'm delighed that Kiri took the time to write, and hope you'll look at the video of her talk, below. 


 

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 1, 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.