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!

Friday, July 11, 2014

Famous Speech Friday: Dominique Christina's "The Period Poem"

Don't mess with poets on Twitter. Activist and performance artist Dominique Christina is the 2012 and 2014 champion of the Women of the World Poetry Slam, and she used a spoken-word poem to slam a tweet full of shaming about menstruation. Here's how the poem begins:
Dude on twitter says, quote, “I was having sex with my girlfriend when she started her period, I dumped that bitch immediately” end quote. Dear nameless dummy on Twitter: The sudden grief all your girls feel after the matriculation from childhood and the induction into a reality that they gonna have to negotiate you and your disdain for what a woman’s body can do, herein begins an anatomy lesson infused with feminine politics...because I hate you. You’re the reason my daughter cried funeral tears when she started her period. 
In her introduction, she says that the poem, written for her 13-year-old daughter, is part of "a necessary conversation that seeks to undermine the shaming that happens to some girls around menstruation." She talks about throwing a "period party" for her daughter--everyone dressed in red. The poem adopts that same celebratory, defiant tone:
So to my daughter: Should any fool mishandle the wild geography that is your body, how it rides a red running current like any good wolf or witch. well then, just bleed, Boo! Give that blood a biblical name, something of stone and mortar. Name it after Eve’s first rebellion in that garden. Name it after the last little girl to have her genitals mutilated in Kinshasa. That was this morning. Give it as many syllables as there are unreported rape cases. Name the blood: Something holy...something mighty...something un-language-able...something in hieroglyphs...something that sounds like the end of the world! Name it for the roar between your legs, and for the women who will not be nameless here.
Christina takes a taboo topic, hauls it out into the open as an example to her daughter (and the rest of us), and makes it normal, named, and noble. What can you learn from this famous speech?
  • Douse shame with publicity: As social work researcher BrenĂ© Brown, another Famous Speech Friday speaker, notes in her TEDxHouston talk about vulnerability, "shame is really easily understood as the fear of disconnection: Is there something about me that, if other people know it or see it, that I won't be worthy of connection? The things I can tell you about it: it's universal; we all have it.The only people who don't experience shame have no capacity for human empathy or connection. No one wants to talk about it, and the less you talk about it the more you have it." By speaking loudly and proudly about a supposedly shameful topic, Christina is able to shed the shame, connect with the audience on a universal theme, and render it powerless. It's a great way to use public speaking as a power tool.
  • Energetic delivery is infectious: Far too many speakers aim for boring in their delivery, and achieve it. Here, the conventions of spoken word poetry infuse this work with verve, passion and lilt. It's hard for me to imagine an impassive group of listeners, regardless of what they thought of this poem, which is loaded with a strong point of view and the delivery to match. Listen just to the audio and hear how she uses pauses, emphatic pronunciation, tonality, cadence and more vocal variety to light up the words and the listeners.
  • Give us an imperative: Some of the power of this speech lies in its imperative sentences, the ones that command us to do something (otherwise known as the call to action). It's a form enhanced here by the use of active verbs at the beginning of a series of sentences: "Give it...a name," and "Name it" being the ones most used. It's direct and commanding in every sense of the word, commanding us to act and commanding our attention.
  • Subvert expectations: Christina mixes the quotidien and the elegant, combining "hereins" and "I digress" with street language to create a message that's at once playful and powerful. In a larger sense, she takes an undermining, misogynistic comment and undermines it her way, the best kind of subversion. Don't be afraid to mix it up in your own speeches when you want to keep listeners on their toes. The tactic adds surprise and punch.
You can watch the video below and learn more about this amazing poet and performer on her website and on Twitter. 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. Please join me!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

My Toastmasters article on social media and public speaking

My latest article for Toastmaster, the magazine of Toastmasters International, is available to members. Many readers of The Eloquent Woman may not know that, in addition to coaching public speakers, I help clients with social media strategies--so researching and writing this article falls right in my sweet spot. That's how I knew about the opening example: White House speechwriters using Instagram to share blurred pictures of the President's State of the Union address, a work in progress.

"The Social Media Edge" looks at:
  • How any speaker can use social media to prepare, rehearse, and deliver a speech;
  • How to share your speech, elicit questions, promote your talk, and handle audience interaction before, during, and after the session;
  • My recommendations for tools and apps, from note-taking sites like Evernote to networks for public speakers. If you use my link for Evernote, you can test-drive a month of its premium service for free; and
  • Toastmasters' social sites, where you can participate in an ongoing discussion of public speaking.
As before, if you're a member of Toastmasters, you'll already have this article in your hands. Everyone can see this issue at the end of July on the "current issue" page of the magazine.

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. Please join me!