When I first began writing and publishing The Eloquent Woman blog, other speaker coaches and speechwriters started asking me where they could find famous speeches by women, particularly speeches more recent than those of, say, Eleanor Roosevelt--who died when I was 4 years old. Reader Jennie Poppenger suggested the name for the series, which contains a daunting task: Finding and analyzing a famous speech by a woman every Friday!
That would be ambitious enough. But within that framework, I set myself some additional goals:
- An international mix of women speakers. Thanks to readers around the world, I've been able to share famous speeches by women from 21 nations, including Argentina, Australia, Burma, Canada, Denmark, England, France, Haiti, Ireland, India, Jordan, Kenya, Liberia, Macedonia, Malawi, Morocco, Nigeria, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Ukraine, and the United States.
- Not just gender diversity: The Index and the FSF series were created to restore some gender balance in the world of public speaking, where many of the "best of" lists and available archived speeches are those given by men. But we aim for many other kinds of diversity as well, featuring black, Hispanic, Arab, Indian, Native American, Christian, Muslim, Jewish, atheist, liberal, conservative, lesbian, heterosexual, transgender, disabled, young and old speakers. Increasing the diverse pool of examples of women in public speaking remains a strong focus for the series.
- Celebrities and decidely un-famous speakers: The Index focuses on famous speeches, not necessarily famous women speakers--although we do include celebrities, actresses, athletes, heads of state and First Ladies, all very visible. We also have speeches by CEOs, engineers, scientists, chefs, poets, legislators, political activists, labor unionists, students, professors, attorneys, authors, ministers, nuns, judges, mothers, screenwriters, comedians, journalists, nonprofit leaders, physicians, nurses, entrepreneurs, financiers, pilots and preachers. Yes, we have Eleanor Roosevelt and Lady Gaga, alongside less-famous women who speak in public.
- A variety of public speaking styles and formats: We have commencement speeches and concession speeches, diatribes, extemporaneous gems, comments from panel moderators, spoken-word poems, parliamentary speeches, corporate commentaries, legislative floor speeches, campaign speeches, convention keynotes, acceptance speeches, United Nations addresses, radio and television addresses, demonstrations, academic lectures, talks that became books, courtroom speeches, classroom questions, commercials, formal testimony, TED talks, press conference statements, speeches in the field, tribute speeches, eulogies, mock debates, anniversary lectures, memorial lectures, and filibusters. Sharing different styles of what makes a "speech" is another goal of the series.
- Speakers from many ages and levels of experience: The Index includes women's speeches that stretch from the 1500s to the week just past, mixing modern and historic speeches. In the process, we also have featured first-timers, seasoned speakers, and every level of experience in between, believing that there are things to be learned from all of them.
- More collections to help you make sense of the growing Index. One of the great strengths of the Index is that it's now large enough to let me look across these speeches to find themes and threads. At the top of the Index, you'll find our collections posts--speeches by athletes or African-American speakers, for example, as well as those that focus on types of speeches or the topics being addressed. So far, we've assembled 17 collections of Famous Speech Friday posts to help you navigate and explore these themes.
So many readers have contributed to this series, and that's what makes it a success for me. Readers suggest speeches, pass along links to videos, tell me what struck them about a particular speech, ask for a hard-to-find speech, translate non-English speeches, point me to archival information, and sometimes write guest posts about these famous speeches. Your participation is not only much appreciated, but the engine that propels the series forward, so keep those ideas coming.
I hope you'll also mark the occasion of our 150 speeches by sharing the collection with your friends and colleagues. Thank you for helping me bring these wonderful speeches forward for all to share.
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! And here's a new discount: If you're an American traveling from the U.S. to attend the conference, you can get a 200 Euro discount with the code "eloquentwoman."