Friday, July 25, 2014

Famous Speech Friday: Theresa May takes the Police Federation to task

I always thought it was odd that the initial focus when Theresa May took office was on her fashion choices instead of her policies, because Britain's Home Secretary is a decidedly unglamorous job. That's despite it being one of the four "great offices of state" in British government. The cabinet post is responsible for national security, immigration, policing, citizenship, and other internal affairs. But it's also seen as a poisoned chalice, the kind of appointment in which you're likely to be sacked for the deeds of others, as many of her predecessors have found. And May is one of only four women in British history who have held any of the four great offices. So the role's unpopular, and a woman in it unlikely. But you can now add "unyielding" to that list of adjectives, thanks to a speech she gave earlier this year to the Police Federation at its 2014 conference.

Noting that this would be her fifth speech before the group, May makes a straightforward start, saying, "In each of my previous speeches, I've had to deliver some pretty tough messages. I know you haven’t always liked what I've had to say. And to be honest, you haven’t always been the easiest of audiences." It signaled that this speech would be neither easy nor fun to deliver. After talking about past efforts to work together with the Federation, May enumerated 15 different scandals, negative trends, and official investigations of the British police, then shared some needed detail that would resonate with citizens:
Such behaviour – which I am told is often encouraged by the Federation – reveals an attitude that is far removed from the principles of public service felt by the majority of police officers. It is the same attitude exposed by HMIC [Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary] when officers, called to help a woman who had suffered domestic violence, accidentally recorded themselves calling the victim a “slag” and a “bitch”. It is the same attitude expressed when young black men ask the police why they are being stopped and searched and are told it is “just routine” even though according to the law, officers need “reasonable grounds for suspicion”. It is an attitude that betrays contempt for the public these officers are supposed to serve – and every police officer in the land, every single police leader, and everybody in the Police Federation should confront it and expunge it from the ranks.
May also used the speech to outline unequivocal actions her office would take immediately, but put the responsibility for reform on the police, reminding them they had a choice in the matter:
I do not want to have to impose change on you, because I want you to show the public that you want to change. I want you to show them that you have the best interests of the police and of the public at heart. But make no mistake. If you do not make significant progress towards the implementation of the Normington reforms, if the Federation does not start to turn itself around, you must not be under the impression that the government will let things remain as they are.
Press coverage noted that while she received polite applause at the beginning, she left the lectern to a silent audience. Her speech was described as having "stunned" them, even as it was hailed as a needed statement. But May also was said to have "shown more balls than the entire male ­population of ­Westminster could muster between them."  In another of our Famous Speech Friday posts, British classics scholar Mary Beard said in her speech on the public voice of women, "It is still the case that when listeners hear a female voice, they don’t hear a voice that connotes authority; or rather they have not learned how to hear authority in it." Why else reach for male anatomy to describe the power of her speech?

I think many speakers try to avoid speeches they know will be unpopular. Government officials don't have that luxury, and this speech didn't hurt May's support. Far from it: Just a few weeks after she delivered it, she surged ahead in polling as the person Conservative Party members see as their future leader (aka, future Prime Minister), an advance seen as a direct result of this strong statement. What can you learn from this famous speech?
  • Let your speech take, and display, responsibility: Having served as a senior public official in the Clinton administration, I know that speeches first and foremost have jobs to do. This speech delivers a serious and unpopular message about a government service that affects every citizen. The sense of responsibility is where its importance lies.
  • Be straightforward and persuasive: This is a speech without sugar-coating and flourishes. It minces no words. Read the text to hear how it hammers home its points. May makes use of Monroe's motivated sequence, a rhetorical structure that's important when you're trying to persuade. In the section of her speech subtitled "Police reform is working and crime is falling," she describes both the results of reforms and what would have happened without them, the "visualization" portion of the sequence.
  • Make your opinion clear: Opinions are so often dodged in public that it would take a mighty calculator to add up the many times speechwriters have been asked to write speeches without them. Not so this speech. Notice how May alternates between expressing her strong views in "I" statements and referring to the common goals in "we" statements. "I" statements underscore that the speaker is taking responsibility for her viewpoints. The "we" often refers to the government and the citizens, the affected audience not gathered in the room.
You can read the full text of May's speech here, and listen to the audio of its delivery here and below. What do you think of this famous speech?



I'll be leading Be The Eloquent Woman, my day-long workshop on women and public speaking, as a pre-conference session at the European Speechwriter Network's autumn speechwriters and business communicators conference in Amsterdam. The workshop is 23 October and the conference is 24 October. You'll learn how to speak with confidence, content and credibility to subvert the common expectations of women speakers. Go here to see more about the workshop and what previous participants had to say. Please join me!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

'Be The Eloquent Woman' at my October speaking workshop in Amsterdam

I'll be leading Be The Eloquent Woman, my day-long workshop on women and public speaking, as a pre-conference session at the European Speechwriter Network's autumn speechwriters and business communicators conference in Amsterdam on 23 October.

The day-long workshop is designed to help women executives and politicians to improve their public speaking, using smart strategies that build on the information you get right here on the blog. You'll learn about the research as well as the realities that women face--the perceptions that stand in the way of your success and undermine your confidence--along with the practical advice that will help you subvert those expectations and succeed as a speaker. Our focus is helping you build confidence, content and credibility as a woman speaker.

Participants will learn:  
  • Techniques for overcoming fear of big occasions 
  • How to structure a talk
  • Strategies for speaking with or without notes
  • Advantages women bring to public speaking and how to bring them to the fore
  • Lessons from outstanding women speakers
  • Putting together a "message wardrobe" to be prepared for any speaking situation
  • How to get more speaking opportunities and make the most of them
  • What conference organizers are looking for in speakers, and what's preventing women from achieving parity on conference podiums
  • How women speakers are perceived, in public settings and in the workplace, and how you can subvert expectations
Previous participants in this workshop include executives and leaders from companies like Google, Clifford Chance, Little Brown Publishing, and Procter & Gamble; from government agencies such as the U.S. Department of Energy, the U.S. Department of the Interior, and U.S. congressional staff; and from nonprofits, universities, medical practices and research labs. The workshop is conducted in English, and has included participants from France, Great Britain, Greece, Ireland, Panama, Switzerland, and the United States. Here's what they have to say about the workshop experience:
  • "Loved the discussion and doing the exercises on my speaking style. This allowed me to think about aspects of my work I hadn't thought about before."
  • "[Most valuable were] the practical tips on introductions, negotiating fight/flight, the structure of presentations, how to be assertive when someone talks over you or is age/sexist."
  • "The information has given me a renewed enthusiasm for my next talk. I'm feeling back in the driver's seat."
  • "[Most valuable were] the message wardrobe--particularly prepping Q&A and focusing on the questions that you want before the questions that you fear. Also the fountain of information, from historical references to contemporary events and examples from Denise's clients, research and experience."
  • "My talks were extremely well received, something which I attribute significantly to Denise’s help. In the workshop, I defined what eloquent meant to me as “poised”, which is exactly the word a conference organiser used to describe me on stage. I recommend Denise wholeheartedly to all the people I meet who are nervous about getting up on stage."
Be The Eloquent Woman will be offered in Amsterdam on 23 October as a pre-conference workshop at the Autumn Speechwriters and Business Communicators Conference of the European Speechwriter Network, which takes place 24 October. Click on the links to find out more about this unique professional development opportunity, and see the latest on speakers recently added to the program here. I'm especially happy that my client and friend Marcus Webb, chief storytelling officer for TEDMED, will keynote the conference--you may recall his interview for our Inside Voice series. You may register for the workshop, the conference, or both. You'll get a significant early bird discount if you register by 15 August. 

I hope you can join me for this unusual professional development opportunity--and that you'll also share this information with women you know who might benefit from it.

Monday, July 21, 2014

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:
I'll be leading Be The Eloquent Woman, my day-long workshop on women and public speaking, as a pre-conference session at the European Speechwriter Network's autumn speechwriters and business communicators conference in Amsterdam. The workshop is 23 October and the conference is 24 October. You'll learn how to speak with confidence, content and credibility to subvert the common expectations of women speakers. Go here to learn more about the workshop and what previous participants have said. Please join me!

Friday, July 18, 2014

Famous Speech Friday: Yulia Tymoshenko's "Heroes will never die"

(Editor's note: From the day she appeared to give these dramatic remarks in February, I've wanted to include former Ukraine Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko in our Famous Speech Friday series. Fortunately for me, another speaker coach beat me to the punch, and has graciously permitted me to reprint his post, and the remarks, here. John Shosky has worked in three presidential administrations.  He is president of Roncalli Communications in Alexandria, Virginia. Dr. Shosky is the author of Speaking to Lead: How to Make Speeches that Make a Difference and The Words of Our Time: Speeches that Make a Difference 2001-2011 (both published by Bite Back Publishing in London).  He writes a blog on public speaking at www.thewordsofourtime.com. John's analysis appears first, followed by the text of the remarks.)

Overview by John Shosky: 

As events continue to unfold in Ukraine, it is helpful to examine the words of one of the revolution’s key players:  Yulia Tymoshenko.

On February 21st legislators voted to release former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko from a prison hospital, where she was serving a seven-year sentence for abuse of power.  One day later, on February 22nd, she gave the remarks below.

By way of background, ten years ago, in November 2004, a rigged election gave victory to pro-Russian Viktor Yanokovych.  The election campaign featured corruption, murder, the poisoning of the opposition candidate, pro-Western Viktor Yushchenko, and international concerns about the stability of Ukraine, even worries about the country’s independent future.  The polling results were not accepted by millions of Ukrainians. Popular protests began a process that eventually forced  a second election won by Yushchenko.  The protests were a grassroots, democratic, citizen’s revolution demanding rule of law, accountability, openings to the West, and honest elections.  The events became known in the media as the “Orange Revolution.”  The orange scarf came to symbolize the revolution (I proudly have one hanging over my desk).

Now, a decade later, a new revolution is underway.  Yanokovych is again at the center of the controversy.  This revolution may not be successful, although the tide of events seems to be turning favorably for the protestors.  However, the future is still in doubt, especially if Russia sends in troops or the civil war breaks out.  Crimea has already been annexed by Russia.

Yulia Tymoshenko has a long history in Ukrainian politics. Known to some as “Saint Yulia” because of (literally) iconic posters where her striking image is presented with religious symbolism and self-identification with western democratic principles (a famous poster has her storming the barricades as Delacroix’s “Liberty Leading the People”), she is a fascinating, yet polarizing figure.  Tymoshenko is known for her braided hairstyle, stylish (often Slavic) dress, vast wealth, powerful influence, intelligence, international contacts, media savvy, and high visibility. One of the most famous images of the Orange Revolution was Tymoshenko walking up to militia riot guards and giving them flowers, an image perhaps borrowed from 1960s American protests.  Her defeat by Yanukovych in the 2010 presidential election represented the victory of pro-Russian, eastern-looking politics over a pro-European Union, western view.  Her subsequent imprisonment in 2011 was viewed by many (including myself) as political, particularly because her crime involved efforts to resolve a Russian-initiated energy crisis that threatened Ukraine with freezing paralysis.

This is not to say that she is an angel. Tymoshenko has played rough in Ukrainian politics, often finding polarization a convenient response to the challenges facing Ukraine.  She is not a saint. But she is the most visible member of the opposition leadership.

With the speech below we rewind the clock by several months.  Appearing on February 22nd at “Maidan Nezalezhnosti" (Independence Square) in Kyiv in a wheelchair because of health problems, Tymoshenko made a passionate speech to between 50,000-100,000 protestors. This speech could not have been more dramatic.  Like Nelson Mandela or Aung Sang Suu Kyi, she made the biggest speech of her career upon release from years of confinement.  The size of the crowd, the international audience, the historic moment, and the emotion of revolution gave this speech an immediacy and spontaneity lacking in most major political remarks.

Sadly, unlike Mandela or Suu Kyi, this speech will not be remembered as great.  The speech did not influence events;  it reacted to them.  She did not lead the revolution; she was rescued by it. History provided a singular opportunity for greatness.  This speech only offered some of the clarity, vision, inspiration, and persuasion needed at that moment.

But, given the circumstances, this was a very good effort, perhaps more for its visual and emotional appeal than for content.

However, there are some lines that will be remembered, such as the one scorching the Internet:  “Heroes will never die.”  There is also a haunting, perhaps prophetic line:  “You cannot leave Maidan before we do what we came here to do.”

Below her remarks are followed by political ally and former Interior Minister Yurii Lutsenko.  His comments offer a condensed contrast to Tymoshenko’s. She talks to the protestors and tells them they have made history.  But he names names.  He seems more involved with the audience.  He certainly speaks as if he knows them. His remarks are warmer, more pointed, and contextual.  Tymoshenko’s words are too general. Also, he thanks Europe, Russians who crossed over to support the protesters, and the United States.  This is the right approach and tone for leadership.  He is not only thanking but reaching out, perhaps encouraging more  partnership and support in the international community.  I must add that the volatility of the situation requires measured and thoughtful responses from all of those involved, inside and outside Ukraine.

If both sets of remarks could have been given by Tymoshenko, then the speech would have been really, really good.

These remarks were published on the web site for the “Kyiv Post”.  This media source deserves much credit for quickly making the speech available.  Most news organizations quote from the speech.  It is valuable to have the entire set of remarks.]

Remarks of Yulia Tymoshenko:

“My dears, when I came to Kyiv I could not recognize Kyiv - burnt cars, barricades, but this is free country that you have given us as a gift. When I came to Kyiv, the first thing I wanted to do was to go to Hrushevskoho Street and touch the barricades where Ukrainian boys and girls were first ready to give their lives for Ukraine.

“People who have been on Maidan and died here are heroes. Heroes will never die. They will always be with us. They will be our inspiration. Every official and every politician who will at least think of betraying you should see these boys in front of his eyes.

“When snipers were shooting in the hearts of our guys, those are the bullets that will always wound us. If we do not take those (snipers) to court, we should be ashamed.

“We could put an end to this dictatorship once and for all. Remember that you are the guarantor of victory. You cannot leave Maidan before we do what we came here to do. You are the force that can guarantee that. You have earned this with your patriotism and courage.

“If somebody says that now you can leave, do not believe those people. You can't leave before everything is done.

“No one but you could have done that. When our guys were covering themselves with wooden shields, this is the nation and the people that cannot be put on their knees. No one will be building Mezhyhiryas again while you have to gather kopecks for sick children. You will not let that happen.

“I was praying to be part of you. We have to do a few things: We have to take Yanukovych and all his goons to Maidan. If you could have changed Ukraine, you can do anything. You were not happy about the agreement with Yanukovych and it is not working now.

“When I saw AutoMaidan, I saw that we cannot be defeated. Many people are afraid to come to Maidan, they are looking for your protection. Not everyone has the strength to come to Maidan and sacrifice their lives. They are scared and you are their hope.

“We now have an open way to build Ukraine the way we want it. We know politicians are not trusted. Therefore we have to stand here till the end. You have deserved to run your own country. If government and parliament is composed without your participation, it will not be just.

“From this time on there will be a different Ukraine. I will be a guarantor that you are not betrayed. Politics is sometimes a big theater. I will be the guarantor that it is not that way. I am asking you to forgive me for all politicians regardless of political parties, positions. Politicians of today did not deserve you.

“My dears, I feel what situation that you have lived in all this time and I’m proud of you. The liberation of Ukraine will be followed by the democratization in other post-Soviet countries. We are on the right path. We will always be with you. We are one team. This revolution will be the beginning of changes in other post-Soviet countries. Now I will be doing everything so you would feel happy in your country. Glory to Ukraine!”

Remarks of ex-Interior Minister Yurii Lutsenko:

“Today we have a real victory. We have a real victory. We have put an end to the bloody dictator Yanukovych. Yanukovych was stripped of his authority in the parliament, but what was the price. A minute of silence in memory of those who died on Maidan. All politicians that will come to power in a new Ukraine have to remember that there is Nebesna Sotnya (“Heavenly Heroes”) of Maidan that will watch over them. They put down their body and soul to our freedom. Let's congratulate all the sotnyks (“leaders” or “commanders”) of Maidan. Let's say thank you to Andriy Paribiy who organized self-defense units. And thank you to Pravy Sector and its leader Dmytro Yarosh.

“We have to thank all the civil organizations that have worked here on Maidan. Here a new generation of Ukraine has been born. We have to thank the priests that were praying under the bullets. We have to thank all businessmen that helped here financially. All middle class were here. A separate thank you to Kyivans (“people of Kyiv”). I won’t be wrong if I say that only in Kyiv such a revolution could have taken place. Kyiv has deserved to have a mayoral election. Mayoral elections in Kyiv will be a lesson for all politicians. A thank you for western Ukraine that has been as the forefront of the revolution. Only this UPA (Ukrainian Insurgent Army) land could have given birth to people that brought this victory. Let's thank to those Ukrainians in the east and in the south. Thank you to the press which are the heroes of Maidan.

“Thanks to all the protesters. Thanks to Ukrainians of the world. Ukrainians have put down this dictatorship. But we could not have done that if Europe did not support us. Thanks Russians who came here. Catch freedom in Russia. Thanks to the U.S.  Glory to our Maidan and Glory to Ukraine!”

(Creative Commons licensed photos by Mstyslav Chernov and Veronica Khokhlova)

I'll be leading Be The Eloquent Woman, my day-long workshop on women and public speaking, as a pre-conference session at the European Speechwriter Network's autumn speechwriters and business communicators conference in Amsterdam. The workshop is 23 October and the conference is 24 October. You'll learn how to speak with confidence, content and credibility to subvert the common expectations of women speakers. Go here to see more details and what previous participants say. Please join me!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Gender Avenger tool helps you chart women speakers at conferences

You can learn a lot on a train. A couple of weeks ago, I got on an Amtrak train heading north and tweeted--as I do--that I was in business class. The next thing I knew, Twitter acquaintance Susan Askew, one of the minds behind the Gender Avenger website, was letting me know she was in the same car. A long discussion about parity for women speakers followed, and Susan let me know that Gender Avenger's latest tool was soon to launch, and that it would give us all another option from tracking conferences with @NoWomenSpeakers.

The tool's in beta now, so expect changes to come. But here's how it works: Go to the app page and enter what you see when you see a gender imbalance--for example, enter a conference hashtag and how many men and women you see speaking in a session, attending, or on the entire program. There's room to describe what you are tallying. Once you enter your data, the app generates a sunny or stormy pie chart that helps put the imbalance (or balance) in visual terms. You can then share the graphic on Facebook or Twitter.
Of course, you can use the tool in many situations where women are underrepresented, but I'm partial to helping everyone see those gender issues related to women speakers. Give the tool a try if you're also keeping a record of the conferences you attend, and follow my @NoWomenSpeakers account on Twitter, where I retweet posts when others espy gender balance or imbalance on conference speaker rosters.

One last hopeful thing: three men created the Gender Avenger Tally app. It's a good example of how men and women need to work together to change the ratio of women speakers.

I'll be leading Be The Eloquent Woman, my day-long workshop on women and public speaking, as a pre-conference session at the European Speechwriter Network's autumn speechwriters and business communicators conference in Amsterdam. The workshop is 23 October and the conference is 24 October. You'll learn how to speak with confidence, content and credibility to subvert the common expectations of women speakers. Go here to see more details and find out what previous participants say. Please join me!

Monday, July 14, 2014

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:
I'll be leading Be The Eloquent Woman, my day-long workshop on women and public speaking, as a pre-conference session at the European Speechwriter Network's autumn speechwriters and business communicators conference in Amsterdam. The workshop is 23 October and the conference is 24 October. You'll learn how to speak with confidence, content and credibility to subvert the common expectations of women speakers. Go here to see more details and what previous participants have said. Please join me!