Monday, March 30, 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:

Friday, March 27, 2015

32 historic women's speeches to close #WomensHistoryMonth

When you have a treasure trove as large as The Eloquent Woman Index of Famous Women's Speeches, you can use it as a lens on the topic of women and public speaking. For Women's History Month, I've collected 32 speeches in the Index that occurred 50 years ago or earlier, and the group demonstrates interesting themes in the history of women and speaking.

You'll notice a big gap--nearly 300 years--between the earliest speech in the Index by Queen Elizabeth I in 1588 and Sojourner Truth's "Ain't I a Woman?" speech in 1851, and that's no mistake: For many of those years, women in many cultures were forbidden to speak in public. "History has many themes," wrote Kathleen Hall Jamieson. "One of them is that women should be quiet."

It was still rare for women to speak publicly in the 1800s and the following decades, but more publicly acceptable in Western cultures for them to speak about issues like temperance, slavery and religion. That's what makes some of the Index speeches from this era so remarkable, because they ignored social conventions to speak about lynching, war crimes, free love, anti-war themes, and yes, votes for women, the right that would help women gain authority to speak on other issues. Later in this collection, you'll see women enter new spheres: politics, science, human rights and television. This grouping from The Eloquent Woman Index includes women speakers from Argentina, Australia, Canada, Denmark, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

Dip into this collection and share it with other women and girls. Clicking through the links will take you to text, video or audio (where available), along with what you can learn as a public speaker from these famous speeches. I've updated this list to include posts on the Index through 2015.

1588: Elizabeth I's speech to the troops at Tilbury, a rare battleground speech by a great queen. We have three versions of it, none of them from her own time, so this one likely was rewritten and it's unlikely she actually said these stirring words.

1851: Sojourner Truth's "Ain't I a Woman?" is moving--but also was rewritten by others after its delivery, including its most famous line.

1866: Clara Barton's Andersonville testimony to the U.S. Congress is bald, gorey and honest on the topic of conditions for prisoners of war, and sparked a rare speaking tour for this battleground nurse in the Civil War.

1871: Victoria Woodhull's "Principles of Social Freedom" was well ahead of its time with its advocacy of free love, as was the speaker, who also ran for president of the United States.

1873: Susan B. Anthony's "Is it a Crime for a U.S. Citizen to Vote?" was a seminal speech in the battle for U.S. women's suffrage.

1909: Ida B. Wells "This Awful Slaughter" came at the first convention of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, taking on lynching directly at a time when it was rarely spoken of publicly.

1911: Rose Schneiderman's speech on the Triangle fire was itself fiery, a speech about the poor working conditions that led to the deaths of so many women garment workers.

In the same year, Marie Curie's 1911 Nobel lecture--for her second Nobel Prize--was careful to take full credit for her contributions to her science, as men who spoke about her did not. 

1912: Mother Jones speaks to striking West Virginia miners in her trademark "hell-raiser" style, giving voice to their working conditions. The only reason we have the text is because the mine owners hired a stenographer to take it down, hoping to prove Jones was a violent danger.

1914: Nellie McClung's "Should Men Vote?" tweaked the nose of Canada's male politicians, turning around their words about why women should not get the vote in a funny mock debate that turned the tide for women's votes in that country.

1915: Jutta Bojsen-Møller's victory for votes speech came after Denmark gave the vote to women, summing up the struggle poetically. Great perspective and a great metaphor here.

1916: Helen Keller's "Strike Against War" reflected her pacifist views during World War I, an unpopular stance. And yes, this blind, deaf, nearly mute woman was a public speaker.

In the same year, journalist Ida Tarbell's "Industrial Idealism" speech was a rare speaking circuit lecture by a woman--who was sometimes advertised as "the woman who talks like a man."

1920: Nancy Astor's first speech in Parliament was the British institution's first "maiden speech" by a woman. This first woman MP more than held her own in a debate that began to change history.

1924: Juliette Gordon Low's Girl Scouts speech reflects the changing times of her day, including voting as one of the Scout's civic responsibilities.

1927: Aimee Semple McPherson's "speech in a speakeasy" was on one of the safer topics for women giving speeches. But this early televangelist did anything but play it safe to bring her message to the masses.

1928: Virginia Woolf's "A Room of One's Own" lectures took the time to parse why we have so few women writers, let alone speakers. These lectures became an inspiring book.

1903: Annie Oakley's libel cases and courtroom speeches were to defend her reputation, a one-woman effort that turned around a smear campaign.

1913: Emmeline Pankhurst's "Freedom or Death" explained this British suffragist's view of the stakes for women's votes--a more militant and even violent view than that of her U.S. sisters.

1935: Amelia Earhart's "A woman's place in science" brings radio into the picture. She broadcast this talk to encourage women to be consumers, careerists and researchers in the sciences.

1940: Eleanor Roosevelt's convention-saving speech, famous for its phrase "no ordinary time," kept her husband from losing the Democratic nomination, no small feat in this contentious conference.

1943: Dame Enid Lyon's "Strike a Human Heart" speech reflected the unique perspective of Australia's first female parliamentarian.

1947: Novelist and scholar Dorothy Sayers lectured on the "Lost Tools of Learning" in postwar Britain, making the case for a classic education--one evident even in her mystery novels.

1949: Eleanor Roosevelt on the UN Declaration on Human Rights shared her life's great work with women college students, and raises the curtain on the endless meetings needed to achieve this diplomatic tour de force.

1950: Margaret Chase Smith's "Declaration of Conscience" was a rare defiance of McCarthyism and communist witch-hunts--delivered on the U.S. Senate floor with Sen. Joseph McCarthy in attendance. A brave and important speech.

1951: Evita Perón's Renunciamento, in which she declined calls for her to become Argentina's vice president, came in the form of a radio address that reflected her personal approach to public speaking.

1962: Frances Perkins on the roots of Social Security was a lookback speech from the first female Secretary of Labor in the U.S., who was present for Rose Schneiderman's Triangle Fire speech, a lasting influence in her own efforts to help the working class.

1962: Jackie Kennedy's televised tour of the White House took a relatively new medium and made it her own. This wasn't just a tour, but a tour de force.

1963: Rachel Carson's "A New Chapter to Silent Spring" brought her message of environmental dangers to the gardeners of America, a major speech given despite her public speaking fears.

1963: Julia Child's "The French Chef" cooking demos took television by storm, giving a woman an unusual platform for extemporaneous speaking-while-demonstrating.

1964: Fannie Lou Hamer's convention committee testimony says out loud what black Americans went through in the struggle for civil rights. Her testimony didn't get her a seat as a convention delegate, but did reach a much wider audience.

1964: Lady Bird Johnson's whistlestop tour took place in town after town before U.S. southerners angry at her husband's signing of the civil rights legislation. Grace under pressure doesn't begin to describe it.
    There are many more--and more recent--famous speeches by women in The Eloquent Woman Index of Famous Women's Speeches, and we add more nearly every week. Please share this unique resource on women and public speaking!

    Thursday, March 26, 2015

    In England, I'm on the hot seat, and sharing TED talk insights


    In two weeks' time, I'll be in London and Cambridge, England, for two public speaking events. Here's an insider secret: These organizations put on my favorite public speaking events, which is why I come back to them again and again. You still have time to register and seats are available, though they're going fast. Please join me at:
    • Public Speaking Question Time with Denise Graveline, an April 9 event for members of the Fabian Women's Network, in London at FWN headquarters. This group always has great questions about public speaking, so we've decided to give them the floor in a great British tradition in which I'm on the hot seat. I'll be bringing the best of their questions right back here to the blog, but we'd love to see you in person at this sure to be lively event. Go here to register; registration is free, but open only to members of FWN.
    • What Goes Into A TED-quality Talk, an all-day pre-conference workshop at the Spring Speechwriters & Business Communicators Conference in Cambridge, UK. This workshop will walk you through what does and doesn't go into a TED-style talk, with ideas and inspiration for writing and planning your own talk. The workshop is on April 15, and the conference follows on April 16-17; you can register for just the workshop, just the conference, or both, and if the conference is full, you can still register for the workshop as long as seats remain. Go to the workshop link for a description and the conference link to register. Use code EloquentTED to get a £100 discount at registration.
    I'm looking forward to seeing you across the pond...

    (Creative Commons licensed photo by Kosala Bandara)

    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, March 23, 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:
    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!

    Friday, March 20, 2015

    Famous Speech Friday: Rep. Terri Sewell's remarks at Selma

    Aside from two First Ladies, she was the only woman speaker on the podium to honor the civil rights "foot soldiers" 1965 march across the bridge in Selma, Alabama. U.S. Representative Terri Sewell, a Selma native and its Member of Congress, set the tone and the stage for the day's high-profile speakers: Rep. John Lewis, one of the original marchers, and President Barack Obama.

    Sewell turned her short speech into a star turn on two counts. First, she kept the sentiment of the event from turning cloying and backward-facing, when she recounted words from one of the women foot soldiers who'd faced down the Alabama State Police on the bridge:
    There is still much work to be done. In fact, it was Amelia Boynton, 105 years old, who was my special guest at the State of the Union. As many people passed her in the hall, they would say, "Mrs. Boynton, we stand on your shoulders. We stand on your shoulders." Mrs. Boynton said, "Get off my shoulders! There's plenty of work to do!" So I say to you, America, there's plenty of work to do.
    You can see in the video below that this left the President laughing, always a good marker of success for a speaker.

    Sewell also took seriously the mundane task assigned to her: Introducing the next speaker, Rep. John Lewis. A beloved figure in the civil rights movement, he was the youngest speaker at the March on Washington, and took blows himself on the bridge at Selma. Sewell gave him anything but a pro forma introduction, demonstrating how effective you can be if you put time into a basic speaking chore:
    Now I have the great honor of introducing someone I did not know how to address when I first came to Congress. Do I call him colleague? Do I call him Congressman Lewis? Do I dare call him John? He is a civil rights icon, and a little black girl who grew up in Selma stands in his shadow. It is because of you, John, that so many of us get to walk the halls of Congress, get to sit in the Oval Office. It is because of your bravery and the bravery of those foot soldiers that I get to be Alabama's first African-American congresswoman. To say thank you is not enough. Let me just say, we know we have unfinished business, John, and we know there is much work to do.
    What can you learn from this famous speech?
    • Keep an honest balance: In commemorating the horrific day known as "Bloody Sunday," every speaker at the anniversary needed to balance honoring the past while not suggesting that all discrimination has ended. Sewell chose to do this effectively with the voice of one of the women foot soldiers, still impatient for change. In doing so, she added a note of humor and catharsis to the day's speaking, and avoided too much sentimentality. 
    • Include yourself in your remarks: Sewell puts herself into her remarks throughout this short speech, without sounding self-aggrandizing. She does that by making herself a living marker of progress, noting that she grew up in Selma without segregation, and her achievement of getting elected as the state's first black congresswoman. As a bonus, including her unique perspective meant her remarks would not sound like a copy of anyone else's--and yielded the laugh line of the morning.
    • Even the lowest-ranking speaker should have a great speech: Some might think it's their job not to outshine anyone else on the platform, and that would be hard to do, anyway, with two presidents, two First Ladies and a civil rights icon sharing the stage with you. But Sewell gives her speech as much care and attention as if she were the only speaker that day, and it paid off.
    Check out the video of her speech at the link below. 


    (Official White House photo by Lawrence Jackson)

    Selma: Rep. Terri Sewell

    Thursday, March 19, 2015

    Guest post: The Woman Speaker Slot

    (Editor's note: Software engineer Cate Huston is a frequent reader of and contributor to the blog, as well as a client of mine. In this post, which originally appeared on her blog Accidentally in Code, she shares what it feels like from the speaker's view to be sought after only because you are a woman--a generally unseen part of the process that often leaves the woman speaker feeling even less wanted than when she was left off the program. I myself have stopped being part of "women's panels" at conferences, since I believe women speakers should be spread throughout the program rather than segregated. Cate's post is a good reminder to organizers that we notice when you're paying lip service to gender diversity, and shares how she handles these backhanded requests. Her post is republished here with permission.)

    I read a lot about how important it is to get more women speakers (and PoC!) at tech conferences, and I agree it’s important. But one of the things I've found as a speaker, who is also a woman, is that I get invitations to fill what I refer to as “the woman speaker slot”.

    The clues usually arise in the request:
    • It’s at an event for women.
    • They want me to talk about being a woman (often combined with being an event for women).
    • The lineup was announced already… and it’s a bunch of (white) dudes.
    • There is a section in the email that essentially says “if not you please help us find another woman” (optional extra: I am in no way qualified to speak on that topic).
    • They actually say, “I need to find a woman speaker” (optional extra: “because other speakers or sponsors are complaining”).
    OK the first step to addressing a problem is to admit you have one. But it’s best not to admit it in your speaker invitation, or to leave it so late that you announced the problem on your conference website.

    I give a lot of talks. I work incredibly hard at preparing them. I co-run a newsletter on public speaking in tech. The invitations I get that reflect those qualifications are much easier to accept.

    I used to get offended by the request to come and be a token. But I’ve decided to reframe it.

    First, I feel no obligation to say yes to these invitations. I will do it if it suits me, and I won’t if it doesn’t. If I have some goodwill towards the organiser, I may help them find someone else, or I may not.

    Second, I use it as an opportunity to practise negotiation. Instead of saying “no”, I say “I only speak at events where my travel costs are covered, and depending on the event I also ask for a speaker fee. Let me know what you are open to and we will go from there.”

    Third, if I do agree to do it, I remind myself that the audience has no idea I was invited because I’m a woman. As far as they are concerned, I’m qualified. So if I rock it, that will be the end of my tokenisation.

    I’ve not been giving many token women talks lately, which I attribute mostly to the second strategy. It is frankly amazing how many organisers think I will be willing to come and be a token women at their event for the sake of “exposure”. It is appalling how many of them think that I will cover my own travel costs to do so. It is particularly jarring when these organisers are large, profitable, tech companies.

    Women events, talks about being a women in tech, and thinly-disguised recruiting events, are particularly annoying. There’s plenty to be said on fixing the problem of poor representation of women in tech, but there is one thing I am relatively certain will not fix anything, and that is asking women to do extra unpaid work. So when I am asked to do extra, unpaid work, for the sake of “women in tech” or “the community” (is this the community that harasses and doxxes my friends?) I say no.

    Finally, when asked to help find other women to help with things like this, or diversity consulting etc, I ask if they will be paid, and if not, I say that I will not help. If you did the same, together we might make a difference. After-all, the data shows women get less flack for asking for others, than we do asking for ourselves.

    Of course, I have been guilty of many of these things too. But now, when I look back at my time in Corporate Feminism what I feel proud of are those times when I was able to get other women recognised or rewarded.

    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!