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.