Brought together a little more than a year after the 9/11 attacks with other relatives of victims, the two women have appeared in speaking engagements throughout Europe and the U.S. since then to talk about reconciliation and forgiveness, using the relationship they have forged as the centerpiece of those talks. They presented jointly at TEDWomen last year,
This joint talk is a testament to restraint for speakers. Here's what you can learn from it:
- Less is more: In this case, Rodriguez and el-Wafi's story and circumstances are powerful and compelling, without embellishment. Just standing together makes a statement, so they don't need to make their words or rhetoric grander, more heated or emphatic.
- Speaking for yourself is the most powerful kind of speech: The women can get away without putting too fine a point on their story precisely because it's theirs. Another speaker might have to use more descriptive and pointed terms to build drama and make their story compelling--but because they are speaking for themselves. they have all the power they need.
- Make the big event personal: The women are speaking about one of the most violent political attacks in history, but their words keep it close to home and heart. Rodriguez recalls seeing news reports of el-Wafi traveling to the U.S. when her son was indicted and thinking, "What a brave woman. Someday I want to meet that woman when I am stronger." Almost no one else involved in the 9/11 attacks could say those words, and that personal angle makes this a compelling talk.
- They frame it from a woman's perspective: el Wafi notes that the talk itself is part of her effort to make sense of her agony, and frames it as a call to action for women: "We must be hand-in-hand and do something together. It's not against women, it's for us, for us women, for our children. I talk against violence, against terrorism. I go to schools to talk to young, Muslim girls so they don't accept to be married against their will very young. So if I can save one of the young girls, and avoid that they get married and suffer as much as I did, well this is something good. This is why I'm here in front of you."
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