Friday, July 31, 2015

Famous Speech Friday: Countess Markievicz on 1909's ideal free woman

Countess Markievicz, an Irishwoman born Constance Gore-Booth, made a lifetime out of defying description. A woman of privilege, she worked as a political activist and suffragette. She was at home in ball gowns and in what was then considered men's attire. She fought for Irish independence, taking part in the 1916 Easter Rising and held in prison afterward, the only woman held in solitary confinement. She was sentenced to death, but spared the firing squad; after that, she left Ireland, only to be re-arrested on her return.

From her jail cell in 1918, she would become the first woman elected to the British House of Commons, though she refused to take her seat. Instead, she helped form a legislature in Ireland, and later became the first female cabinet minister in Europe.

But before all that happened, she made an unsuccessful run for Parliament in 1908 from Manchester, England, then joined the Irish republican party, Sinn Féin, and the Daughters of Ireland. The following year, she gave this speech to the Students' National Literary Society, where she considered women's independence at a time when they were considered decorative at best. That contrast--the beautiful idolized woman and the independent one--forms the core of her speech:
Tommy Moore, the popular poet of his day and also many days later, has set Ireland a very low idea of woman to worship. To him, woman is merely sex and an excuse for a drink. Not a companion or a friend, but a beautiful houri holding dominion by her careful manipulation of her sex and her good looks…

The better ideal for women who, whether they like it or not, are living in a work-a-day world, would be – If you want to walk round Ireland, or any other country, dress suitably in short skirts and strong boots, leave your jewels and gold wands in the bank, and buy a revolver. Don’t trust to your ‘feminine charm’ and your capacity for getting on the soft side of men, but take up your responsibilities and be prepared to go your own way depending for safety on your own courage, your own truth and your own common sense, and not on the problematic chivalry of the men you may meet on the way…. 
A consciousness of their own dignity and worth should be encouraged in women. They should be urged to get away from wrong ideals and false standards of womanhood, to escape from their domestic ruts, their feminine pens...We have got to get rid of the last vestige of the Harem before woman is free as our dream of the future would have her….
This speech also was picked out by current Sinn Féin vice president and Dublin Central TD Mary Lou McDonald as her favorite speech. What can you learn from this famous speech?
  • Mix high ideals with a realistic call to action: In 1909, votes for women and Irish independence were seen as ideals that would be difficult, if not impossible, to achieve. So Markievicz called on her women listeners to try things that they could imagine themselves doing. To the modern ear, her call for dressing in short skirts and carrying a revolver may sound reactionary--it's certainly the most frequently quoted part of the speech--but it was something that could be achieved. As you can see in the photo, she wasn't afraid to take her own advice.
  • Hitch your wagon to a star: Markievicz made it clear in this speech, over and over again, that an independent Ireland without independent women would not do. In talking about the decorative woman versus the active one, she makes the case for a less passive and more activist approach to indpendence for the nation as well. It's a clever approach. In speaking to women's groups on this score, she was perhaps suggesting to any male listeners that women might have an objection if there were independence for the nation, but not for themselves, thus losing a source of votes for the cause. And to women, it suggested that independence for Ireland only really worked if they, too, were independent. As we say today, a win-win.
  • Give your audience courage: I sometimes think that few speakers realize that encouragement, or the giving of courage, to an audience can be a powerful tactic, something different from a simple call to action. Much of this speech involves encouragement for the young women she was addressing, helping them to envision themselves active in politics and in running the nation. You might try that in your next speech.
The full text of this speech can be found in In Their Own Voice: Women and Irish Nationalism.

Countess Markievicz School, an annual conference in Dublin, helps keep her public speaking tradition alive today, with an annual lecture in her name and training to encourage women more actively in politics. I'm especially pleased that each "school," once completed, includes a web archive of all the speeches given, with links to video--an important archive of women's speeches.

(Layla Claridge provided research assistance for this post.)

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Talk About the Talk: @drlucyrogers's space debris talk at InspireFest

(Editor's Note: Talk About the Talk is a series in which speakers I've worked with share their experiences preparing and delivering major talks. Dr. Lucy Rogers and I met at the speechwriting conferences I attend in the UK and Europe, and as you'll read below, she participated in my workshop on What goes into a TED-quality talk earlier this year. In one of our exercises, I asked participants to pair up and share their ideas for TED-style talks, then learn what their partner thought and how he or she would suggest adjusting it--a great technique to help you see what your audience might want. Rogers teamed up with Guy Doza, and continued getting feedback from him after the workshop. I'm so pleased that Rogers shared video and her text so you can see the work involved.)

“We’re aiming to have 75% women speakers at our tech conference and would love for you to be one of them.”

Who could refuse an invitation like that? Most tech conferences that I have been to or spoken at (and tech includes science and engineering in this context) have had a maximum of 10% women speakers.

Back in January 2015, Dr.Sue Black, a friend I met on Twitter, recommended me as a speaker to Ann O’Dea from Silicon Republic, based in Dublin. Ann had a look through my YouTube videos and at my blog and asked if I’d be willing to have a Skype chat with her about InspireFest 2015.

We chatted about my portfolio career, and I suggested various topics I could talk about, including “Robotic Dinosaurs,” “Work can be fun," “How to get from there to here,” and “Space Debris”.

We finally (about five days before the conference!) settled on “Space Debris."

I am a member of Toastmasters International and this has helped me improve my public speaking technique. I have also attended a few European Speechwriters Network (ESN) conferences, so have gained hints and tips about constructing speeches. At one of the recent ESN conferences, I also attended the “How to give a TED-Quality talk” workshop by Denise Graveline.

I decided to implement some of the things I had learnt or that had been suggested at that workshop into this speech.

First – write the script. This was new for me. I usually think of what I want to say, break it down into eight parts and write a few key words to remind me the stories in each part.

But, I sat and stared at my computer for a while and eventually wrote a script. I then asked Guy Doza, a friend I had met through the European Speechwriters Network, to have a look at it and give me any feedback.

My original script was a little vague in places and disjointed. Guy helped me focus on the main point of the talk, and suggested ways to help the audience come away with a clear call to arms.

Guy also suggested using more rhetorical devices and painting more pictures - how much debris per day? - rather than just a number.

By writing the script I made it tighter, put more rhetorical devices and quotes in than I would have in my “normal” way of picturing stories.

The script I wrote for the talk is given below. I froze it on the Tuesday, before giving it on the Thursday. If you watch the video (here and below), you’ll see I wasn’t word perfect. I changed the first line and I missed out some of the jokes.

When I was practicing and timing myself in my hotel room, I also realised it was too long - Denise had said, aim for 100-120 words per minute – I had written too many words so I had to cut some bits. (Read the final script here.)

I was nervous before the start – it was the biggest conference I had spoken at, and it was in a theatre, with a proper stage, proper lighting, proper headset microphones plus all the backstage people etc. I had to wait backstage in the dark while two other speakers gave their talks. I watched their slide presentations from the wrong side of the screen, and almost learnt to read backwards.

However, when I was on stage, I relaxed. The audience were friendly, laughed at my jokes, and I felt encouraged by them. Even the “casual saunter” back to the lectern to refer to my notes (see photo) wasn’t as embarrassing as I thought it would be. Note to self: freeze the speech longer in advance to give yourself chance to learn it.

I had decided not to use slides – I relied on making visual pictures. I prefer this as I first started public speaking in a storytelling setting. I often find slides a distraction, but it does mean that I have to be able to hold the audience’s attention.

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.

I watched the video three weeks after I gave the talk. I was very impressed at myself! Thanks to Toastmasters I have eliminated most of my verbal crutches (ums, ers etc.) and also the random hand waving I used to do.

Because I wrote the speech out, the rhetorical devices and word pictures were much stronger. The speech I feel had a purpose and a call to arms.

My only worry now is that I will get pigeon holed as only being able to talk about space or science. I have many greater issues I’d like to speak about - “Women’s equality” “Finding your own path”, or even “How to hold your audience’s attention.”


(Photo by Conor McCabe)

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, July 27, 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, July 24, 2015

Famous Speech Friday: Stav Shaffir and "What is a Zionist?"

In February, The Eloquent Woman participated in a webinar about public speaking fears, including the fear that some women have about putting themselves out there with a speech containing strong opinions. These nerves can silence women and give away their power before they even open their mouths--and there's too much of that going on already.

Member of the Israeli Knesset (MK) Stav Shaffir recently offered a great reminder of what we might miss if we keep quiet rather than challenge authority or voice an unpopular opinion. Her blast of a speech in the Knesset in January got her removed from the chamber, but went viral and prompted an international discussion about Israel's economic and military future.

Getting escorted from the room is becoming a trend for Shaffir, the youngest member of Israel's parliament. Shaffir was removed twice from a Knesset Finance Committee meeting in December 2014, after she and others questioned a last-minute transfer of funds to the Israel Defense Ministry. In October of 2014, she was physically dragged from the committee at the request of the chairman, after demanding more transparency in the committee's dealings. Surrounded by angry heckling and protests from some in the ultra-Orthodox community, Shaffir and two other women MKs have also joined other women in praying, wearing traditional prayer shawls and reading from the Torah at Jerusalem's Western Wall, in defiance of the tradition that has normally banned women from such practices there.

Before becoming a politician, Shaffir was a journalist and a leading activist in the 2011 economic and social justice protests in Israel that some compared to the U.S. Occupy movement. She has said in several interviews that she found the transition to politics difficult, even as she came to realize that politics were critical to achieving the left's goals in Israel:

"I don't like the fact that, in 2013, less than a quarter of our parliament is women...women are not very welcome there," Shaffir said during that year's elections. "I'm spending a lot of time talking to younger women...to give them the example that it's possible, we can do it, that we can survive in that violent, masculine atmosphere."

Shaffir's "What is a Zionist?" remarks are an exclamation point of a speech, so passionate and yet so succinct in spelling out the values and goals of Israel's left that many have called it a "credo" or "manifesto." What can you learn from this famous speech?
  • Gain structure for your speech from repetition. Shaffir uses repetition to describe the people she says are getting rich as a result of right-wing budgets; the people who are losing out in Israeli society as a consequence; and how this contrast defines what she calls a true Zionist. In the first two instances, repetition serves to lay out her case against the right wing, as a sort of recitation of pros and cons. After that, she uses repetition to build up to an emotional ending. Shaffir said her remarks were impromptu (more on that below), so repetition also may have given her a little extra time to collect her thoughts as she spoke.
  • Speak directly to a specific audience. This speech would feel far less compelling if Shaffir used constructions such as "The opposition wants..." or "Those who say this..." to speak about the right wing. Instead, she uses "You" over and over again, as if she is having an argument with one person standing right in front of her. It's an attention-grabbing tactic, and it fits in well with the fury behind her words.
  • Speak now, and seize the moment. Ever want to say something on the spot, but stay silent because you only speak in public with notes and weeks of preparation behind you? There's a place for those kinds of speeches, and then there's a place for your thoughts right here and right now. Shaffir said afterward that she had not planned her remarks that day, but improvised them after hearing another politician attack her party in the Knesset. In this case, a planned speech probably wouldn't have had nearly the emotional impact--or the crackling brevity--of this response.
You can watch the full speech here, with captioning in English:

 

(Freelance writer Becky Ham contributed this Famous Speech Friday post. Creative Commons licensed photo by Wendy Kenin)

Come to my pre-conference workshop at the Spring Speechwriters and Business Communicators Conference in Cambridge, UK, this April. What goes into a TED-quality talk will help speakers, speechwriters and conference organizers understand how to craft and deliver a talk in the style of TED, whether you're getting ready for a TEDx conference or just a presentation in this popular style. Go to this link  for more details on what's included, as well as a significant discount for readers of The Eloquent Woman. The workshop is on 15 April, and the conference is 16-17 April. Please join me!

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Did I just get #publicspeaking advice? Shade? Or a virtual "shut up"?

I've written here about how women speakers' hair, wardrobe, and overall appearance can be used against them as "virtual mute buttons" that keep us from hearing their words. But there's another virtual mute button out there, one that's even more perturbing to women speakers: Public speaking advice that's really an attempt to put them back in their place, preferably a silent place.

Here's a good example: A young woman friend sought my advice after she'd been on a radio program, interviewed about a debate on a feminist issue. Her role was to defend the feminist perspective, and she did so, eloquently and energetically. But after the interview aired, a male mentor called her and said, "Janet, you really need to be more likable in these interviews." Her question to me was: How? Should she have laughed more or made jokes? Smiled more? Talked about the issue in different language? A different tone of voice? Thankfully, a radio interview ruled out what would have been additional questions on dress and appearance.

So here was an eminently likable young professional woman, an excellent speaker, trying to figure out how to be more likable (dictionary definition: pleasant and appealing).  She saw it automatically as something to work on. I saw it as a way to shut her up, or at least, throw her off her game. You may hear something different--an urging for you to be or feel more confident, or talking to you about changing your hair or wardrobe.

The "likable" criticism is especially insidious--that is, treacherous and crafty at the same time. That's because, as I posted in 2008, there's research to show that in the eyes of society, women can be seen as either competent or likable, but not both. So if you're competent, we don't like you, and if you're likable, we don't see you as competent. Considering that most management consultants say that executives should aim for both competence and likability, this is as good an example of a double-standard for women as I have seen. My post quoted journalist Nick Kristof talking about the research:
...one lesson from this research is that promoting their own successes is a helpful strategy for ambitious men. But experiments have demonstrated that when women highlight their accomplishments, that’s a turn-off. And women seem even more offended by self-promoting females than men are....The broader conundrum is that for women, but not for men, there is a tradeoff in qualities associated with top leadership. A woman can be perceived as competent or as likable, but not both.
And simply doing your speaking in public, be it a conference hall or on the radio or television, can easily be seen as "promoting your own successes" or "highlighting your accomplishments," thus bringing out the subtle undermining. Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg put it this way: “For men, likbility and success is correlated. As they get more successful, more powerful, they’re better liked. For women, success and likability are negatively correlated. As a woman gets more successful, more powerful - she is less liked."

Here's how I characterized it in Criticizing and undermining: How do you respond in a meeting?:
In a world where most businesspeople understand that it's wrong to discriminate against women, that discrimination hasn't gone away--it's just gone underground. Undermining is a coded, seemingly more clever way to unsettle strong women in the workplace. After all, if a man or a woman threatened by your success or potential can't overtly block your progress, they can at least try to get you to be quiet, to doubt yourself or to pay attention to the criticism, instead of your goals. If you're impervious to that criticism, they can work at making it seem as if many others doubt you, damaging your reputation, perhaps.
The boundary-setting tactics in that post work just as well when you've just given a speech or a media interview, as well as in meetings. If this happens a lot--and it does--you'd be smart to have some prepared responses in your back pocket. First and foremost, before you rush to accept the advice, think about why it's being given.

(Creative Commons licensed photo by Rach)

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, July 20, 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, July 17, 2015

For my sister

The blogger at left, her big sister in the middle,
and our younger sister at right. Our brother
was not yet on the scene.
My big sister Elaine died yesterday.

When it comes to women and public speaking, Elaine was an introvert and more a private speaker than a public one, not inclined to speeches. But we came up during the women's rights movement in the 1970s, and were early feminists. To her, having a voice didn't necessarily mean employing a microphone. I never knew anyone who stood up for herself with more clarity and vigor than my big sister, and she was an important role model and coach for me, early on. She was lovely, smart, thoughtful. If anything, she doubted herself too much. We clashed, too, over the years. But we eventually made our peace and found solidarity. This was my first friend in life, and she leaves a big hole in mine with her passing.

She loved this blog and my work as a speaker coach, and even as cancer took its toll, she wanted to hear more about my work and clients, this blog and its readers. I don't know whether she read the posts--summarized here--about helping a dying cancer patient with a speech. But I do know Elaine would have given full-throated support to the theme of "Not dead yet." She herself proved a stubborn opponent for cancer, outliving predictions many times over. It was instructive for me to watch her turn away discussions about "moving on" in favor of fighting it out. She wasn't leaving until she was ready.

In our own world, we stretched private speaking to include all sorts of technology: I made recordings of myself reading things to her, we sent emails and made phone calls, all augmenting time in person. Some of the best speaking I've done in recent months has been in these very private exchanges. I'm grateful and proud to have found the right words at the right time for her. We recalled our earliest days, and our most recent. She sent me off to a business trip in California this week, urging me on to gain a new client.

I'm writing this within hours of learning of her death. I've often said to others that all deaths are sudden, even those long anticipated and this still feels like a punch to the gut, a hole in my life. I took comfort this day from the eloquent woman and writer Anne Lamott, who wrote:
You will lose someone you can’t live without,and your heart will be badly broken, and the bad news is that you never completely get over the loss of your beloved. But this is also the good news. They live forever in your broken heart that doesn’t seal back up. And you come through. It’s like having a broken leg that never heals perfectly—that still hurts when the weather gets cold, but you learn to dance with the limp.
Off to limp and dance in my sister's honor...

Thursday, July 16, 2015

In a world of #allmalepanels, can we share pics of #eloquentwomen?

I was thrilled with the recent Google Doodle for astronaut Sally Ride's birthday--not just because I'm a fan, but because the animated feature emphasized her public speaking career as well as her work in space exploration.

Ride was a frequent speaker on science education and her "Shoot for the Stars" speech was featured in our own Famous Speech Friday series. And seeing the scenes, even animated, of her speaking made me come back to a thought I've had before: Why don't we see more images of women speaking in public?

I say that as someone who's routinely looking for images of women speakers to illustrate this blog, but also as one who knows that research shows that women give longer and more confident political speeches when they've been exposed to images of female role models.

So can we do this, readers? I'd love to see you share images of women speakers--yourself as a speaker, or a woman speaker you've seen or whom you admire. Tag them #eloquentwomen, and post them in any of these places on the web:
Together, we can reshape the view of public speakers, and encourage more women to participate. Share and tag your photos! Watch the Sally Ride Doodle below for inspiration...



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, July 13, 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, July 10, 2015

Famous Speech Friday: SC Rep. @JennyHorne's Confederate flag speech

When elected representatives in South Carolina began to speak about whether the Confederate flag should be removed from the statehouse grounds--a debate that began after nine people, including a state senator, were gunned down and killed at a church bible study in Charleston--I heard lots of reined-in, coded rhetoric. Even the video of Governor Nikki Haley's speech calling for the removal of the flag is labeled to say she "discusses" the flag.

But tamping down the controversy with tepid language stopped late on Wednesday evening this week. Just as the legislature seemed to be permanently at a standstill over this issue, South Carolina Representative Jenny Horne rose to her feet to protest the attempts to load down the bill with amendments, in effect delaying debate and its passage.

Her speech was both procedural and passionate. Maybe you didn't think that was possible, but it's part of a great tradition in outstanding legislative speaking: At the moment when all seems lost, we Americans love an elected official who can rise and extemporaneously sum up both the feeling and the finer points of the legislative process involved in a particular fight on the floor. In this debate, there'd been plenty of public speaking. The rhetoric showed the deep divisions between the sides, and one representative introduced amendment after amendment--each with a 20-minute or so speech--to keep the bill up in the air. But Horne's angry speech turned the tide, in rhetoric and results.

Much of the coverage of Horne's speech emphasized that it was "emotional," as women's speeches are often described. Yes, her voice cracked and rose higher. She shook with rage, and she clearly came to tears as she spoke. But why not call it by the precise emotion? Angry, frustrated, fed up would have been my adjectives.

That emphasis on emotion in the media took some attention away from the excellent language and delivery. This speech is nearly devoid of stumbles and fillers. She wasn't using notes, and she told the Washington Post her remarks were not planned in advance, but her sentences are beautiful and forceful. To deliver that high level of language in the moment, while overcome by emotion, is a tour de force of public speaking, something to be celebrated.

More important for a legislator at a critical moment, it worked. Horne's main goal was to stop the amendments and to allow the bill to move forward, and her words broke the logjam. The bill was passed, 94 votes to 20, in the wee hours of the morning yesterday. The bill calls for removal of the flag from the statehouse grounds within 24 hours of the its signing by the governor; it was approved by the state senate earlier. By the time you read this post, the flag may already have been taken down.

Here's one of the memorable passages in Horne's speech, in which she follows emotion with proper legislative action:
I cannot believe that we do not have the heart in this body to do something meaningful, such as take a symbol of hate off these grounds on Friday.

And if any of you vote to amend, you are insuring that this flag will fly beyond Friday. And for the widow of Senator Pickney and his two young daughters, that would be adding insult to injury, and I will not be a part of it. And for all of these reasons, I will not vote to amend this bill today.
You'll have to watch the video to hear how she emphasized those sentences. What can you learn from this famous speech, just four minutes of fire and ire?
  • It's okay to be emotional on emotional topics--but keep going: A primary reason Horne's speech was so effective, and so widely noted, was its emotion. Her anger, frustration, and passion come through clearly, and also helped her move past the tears and choking voice. I've come to think that one of the ways we silence women's voices is by criticizing them for displaying emotion when they speak. In this instance, you can see that it mattered more to Horne to say her piece than to worry about the very real emotions she was displaying. Her anger conveys urgency in a long, drawn-out debate.
  • Turn a common metaphor to your own special purpose: We talk all the time about "legislative bodies" without even giving a moment's thought to the fact that it's a metaphor, so often do we use it. Horne pushed that metaphor further, saying, "I cannot believe that we do not have the heart in this body to do something meaningful." She emphasized "heart" and "body" vocally, to underscore the metaphor effectively in a line that took the legislature to task for failing to act.
  • Counter your opponent's rhetoric with yourself, when you are able:  Many Republicans demurred when asked their opinions on this issue, some noting the flag's place in their heritage. Horne, also a Republican, saw that bet and raised it, to use poker parlance, saying: "I am sorry; I have heard enough about heritage. I am a descendant of [Confederacy President] Jefferson Davis, O.K., but that does not matter.” To my ear, the use of "I am sorry" and "O.K." are neither apologetic nor filler, but words used purposefully in debate mode, almost taunting her opponents. 
As the Washington Post noted: "Horne’s fiery speech, bolstered by her reminder that Confederate president Jefferson Davis was her ancestor, injected new energy into what appeared to be a flagging take-down-the-flag faction and helped pave the way for a 1 a.m. vote to remove the flag from the state capitol."
Here's her tweet at the end of the matter:
Please do listen to and watch this speech here or below for a great example of top delivery during an emotional statement. You also can read a transcript on Daily Kos.

Rep Jenny Horne Confederate flag speech

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, July 9, 2015

.@carolinegoyder guest post: Feel the fear and film your talk, anyway.

(Editor's note: I worked with fellow speaker coach Caroline Goyder on her TEDxBrixton talk last year, something she wrote about here in our Talk About the Talk series--a post that is now in the top 10 most-read posts of all time on this blog! Since that post, the YouTube video of Goyder's TEDx talk has flown past 159,000 views. When we were talking about how that feels, I asked her to write about it for this blog. 

You can learn more about preparing for the video recording in Ask not what your TED video can do for you, which shares the advice I share with the TEDMED and TEDx speakers I coach. Goyder is the author of Gravitas: Communicate with Confidence, Influence and Authority. Here, she writes about why it’s normal to hate watching yourself on video – and how to overcome it for a polished career boosting performance.)

“This can't happen…YouTube…they're putting this thing on YouTube. And we're going to be talking about 600, 700 people."
"Are you really going to try to break in and steal the video before they put it on YouTube?"

And I said, "I'm just thinking about it a little bit."

She said, "You're like the worst vulnerability role model ever." Then I looked at her and I said "If 500 turns into 1,000 or 2,000, my life is over." I had no contingency plan for four million.
Brene Brown reveals here in her 2012 TED talk, how paralysed by fear and vulnerability she was after her 2010 Houston TEDx on that very topic.

If you’ve ever panicked at the thought of being filmed, or winced at the footage, this extract reassures you that even great speakers (sociologist Brown’s talk has since been watched nearly 20 million times) feel the deeply normal human fear of being recorded on film. And it teases us with the awareness that as Brown’s meteoric rise as a speaker shows - when you face the fear to shine on camera, you really stand out.  

I know how daunting it can feel to put yourself out there on camera. After all it’s there for posterity. When I was invited to speak at TEDx I felt the cold hands of dread wrap themselves around my heart. They stayed there for three months as I worried about what could go wrong. The vulnerability of being on YouTube. The fear of messing up publicly, and being judged. The dread of watching it back.

So, how do you overcome the fear to create something you can be proud of? I had an epiphany. Over many years as a voice coach working with news anchors and reporters for global news organization, I’d learned that professional polish on air is a set of steps rather than magic. I’d seen in rehearsal that small things make a BIG difference. Here are the three lessons I learned from the professionals on air and applied at TEDx;
  1. Don’t Just Write it, Speak It: The best news anchor I ever worked with had a great rule. Always say your content at least two or three times before you go on air. She’d do it in the studio as the news cycle, gave her a short window of time to get ready. The rest of us have more time to play with, but the principle remains the same. Don’t just write your ideas, speak them. You want to be able to show up conversational and script free, with your thoughts organized and ordered so you can be “natural” on air. In other words you need prepared spontaneity. Get the words in your mouth, and out of your brain. Spend time getting the ideas so sharp and clear and you, that when you speak them it sounds like you are chatting over dinner about a subject you are passionate about. When you step into the spotlight you will be glad of this practice. When stress hits your mind goes blank – it’s crucial to have got the words in the muscle, in the body before the camera rolls. Because no matter what goes wrong, your muscle memory will kick in and you will cope. I was never more glad of this crucial lesson than in in the first few scary minutes of on the TEDx stage. When the microphone played up, and I had an unexpected wind tunnel effect, I was able to keep calm, carry on, and get the right kind of laugh. The practice I’d done religiously saved me that day when panic hit. (Check out this smooth moment in the video below or here.)
  2. Polish Professionally: News anchors also taught me a powerful lesson about polish. This is not my natural forte. I am not what you would call polished in life. Given the option of reading a book or doing my hair, I will always opt for the former. But when I know a camera will be recording me for posterity I have learned to go the extra mile. I learned it from the professional discipline of news anchors who always have professional hair, make up and styling because it makes ALL the difference on air. The camera takes no sartorial prisoners. What seems natural and relaxed in real life quickly looks tired and unprofessional on video. If you are being filmed, you will not regret having your hair styled, make up done properly, and given advice on clothes that work on camera. But be careful – don’t go too far. You want to feel relaxed and at ease – not unable to move. Try out the look a few times in a “dress-rehearsal”, so on the day it feels like you – but better. Why? I’d go as far as to say that getting the polish right can make the biggest difference of all. If you know are ready on the day you feel confident and start strong. And the benefits endure – because when you watch it back you wince less and watch more. You are able to see what worked, what didn’t and crucially – what you can improve.
  3. Be Conversational: The big mistake on camera is to imagine the nameless thousands on YouTube watching, judging you. It cripples you, and makes you overly formal and stilted. The professionals know that your audience watches and absorbs independently, sitting at a laptop, on a phone. If you talk to them one to one it feels to them as if they are listening to an old friend. That’s why news anchors will tell you that a great way to sparkle on camera is to imagine that you are talking to an old friend (or if you are being filmed while talking to a large audience – old friends). To find this conversational warmth under pressure it can help (as Denise reminded me when I was nervously preparing for TEDx) to imagine the feeling of having a lovely cognac in hand - that melting sense you get that all’s right with the world. Take that on set or on stage and the camera will love you. Suddenly you relax – your eyes twinkle, your face softens, your voice warms up. As an audience we warm to you and trust you.
If you’re curious as to whether these tips can help you - test them.  Start with a camera phone as you can delete what you hate and keep what you like. Keep at it. As my TEDx hits 159,000 views and rising, I am increasingly in awe of its power to get a message you believe in, and which will help others out there to a far wider audience than you can ever reach alone.  So…feel the fear…and film it anyway…



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, July 6, 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, July 3, 2015

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

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

Using cartoons in presentations: How to do it right

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

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