Monday, October 31, 2016

The Eloquent Woman's weekly speaker toolkit

If you want to keep up with my wide-ranging reading list about women and speaking in real time, follow The Eloquent Woman on Facebook where these links are posted all week long--or just head here on Mondays, where I summarize them all for you. Either way, you'll be expanding your understanding of women and speaking:
  • Finding your voice at work: "The one place women actually talk more? In less structured, more cooperative environments. In other words, when there is less fear of being perceived as overbearing, women find their voice." Why women talk less than men at work.
  • Where that "nasty woman" comes from: "But insults of powerful women by men perform a particular role, researchers say: cutting them down to size, and playing into discomfort with women in power." This article on Why Men Insult Powerful Women uses famous women as examples, but the same thing happens to women in the workplace every day. Far, far and away, this was the most-read and most-shared post on our Facebook page last week. And why aren't you following there?
  • Did you miss? This week, the blog looked at an experiment that recreated just how much (or little) the crowds heard when Lincoln gave his Gettysburg Address, and Famous Speech Friday shared Shirley Chisholm's contested presidential debate time in 1972--she sued, successfully, when she was shut out in favor of the male candidates.
  • About the quote: The National Women's Hall of Fame asks visitors to share Post-It notes about women who inspire. We can get behind this one!

Friday, October 28, 2016

Famous Speech Friday: Shirley Chisholm's 1972 contested debate time

These days, women candidates for President are often standalones in a sea of male candidates, and this election year, they've sometimes fallen afoul of television networks' insistence on poll data to determine who gets to debate. But all that seems fair compared to what happened to Shirley Chisholm, who paved the way for women presidential candidates in the television age--and who was completely shut out of the 1972 televised debates for her party.

Yes, you have that right. The television networks simply didn't invite her to participate when her male opponents for the Democratic nomination were doing prime-time debates on television.

Chisholm was a triple-first: the first African American woman elected to the U.S. Congress, the first woman to run for the Democratic party nomination for president, and the first major-party African-American to run for president. Running on the motto, "Unbought and Unbossed," she was not about to be shut out of a major opportunity like a televised debate. In The Good Fight, her memoir of the 1972 presidential campaign, Chisholm wrote about it this way:
An important legal precedent was set during my campaign through the work of a young public service lawyer, Tom Asher of the Media Service Project in Washington, D.C. During the weeks just before the California primary, Hubert H. Humphrey had challenged George McGovern to a series of television debates. Somehow (and I am not sure the full story of how it happened ever became public) the three networks--CBS, ABC and NBC--wound up donating their weekly half-hour public affairs interview programs to the two candidates. "Meet the Press," "Face the Nation" and "Issues and Answers" were all stretched to an hour and rescheduled to provide, in effect, three one-hour debates between Humphrey and McGovern during the last full week before the California primary. Tom Asher filed a protest on my behalf with the Federal Communications Commission, citing section 315 of the Federal Communications Act, which says that if any broadcasting station permits itself to be used by any legally qualified candidate for an office, it must permit equal opportunities to all other candidates.
After an appeal against the first FCC ruling, which favored the networks, a court overturned the ruling. NBC had already conceded, giving her a half-hour on the "Today" morning program. CBS and ABC were ordered to provide her with one half-hour of prime time.

In Gloria Steinem's memoir, My Life on the Road, she recalls being pressed into service as a last-minute speechwriter to help Chisholm take advantage of the opportunity:
Because she was "whited out"--as Flo Kennedy put it--of a televised debate before the New York primary, Chisholm and her campaign manager, Ludwig Gelobter, brought a legal action for equal time. She was given a half-hour at the last minute. Ludwig asked me to write overnight a speech that knit together Shirley's farsighted positions. Staying up to do it, then watching her deliver it on television, was a high I won't forget.
That's some speechwriter and some speaker. My regret is that there's no publicly available video of any of these debate opportunities, and no transcript I can find (although I welcome hearing from readers with access to either transcripts or video we can share).

Chisholm famously said, "When I ran for the Congress, when I ran for president, I met more discrimination as a woman than for being black. Men are men." Failing to offer her debate time on national television was just the most prominent demonstration of that discrimination, and failure to make the events available is another. Every time a woman candidate gets air time today, I hope you'll think of her.

Here's video of Chisholm declaring her candidacy:

(Creative Commons licensed photo via Seattle City Council)

Thursday, October 27, 2016

The 'bigly' problem, from Lincoln to Trump: Is your speech being heard?

Famed political campaign message maven Frank Luntz says "It's not what you say that counts. It's what people hear." That came to mind recently when I saw that linguists think Donald Trump may be saying "big league" rather than the "bigly" that people keep hearing. But now historian David Gissen has applied that principle to one of the great speeches, Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address, with interesting results.

In Listening to a speech, among large crowds, in an open landscape, in the mid-19th century, Gissen describes his experiment, which attempted to recreate digitally the conditions under which the Gettysburg Address was delivered and heard or misheard. Using a recording of today that used the "official" text as its basis, he used a digital audio workstation to simulate how that speech would sound when delivered in an open landscape with crowd noises. Then he simulated how it would be heard from 40 feet to 100 feet away from the speaker. Finally, he used speech-to-text recognition software to capture what might have been heard at those distances, making adjustments in vocabulary to suit the language of the day.

The resulting "environmental translations" of the speech appear in the opening of his article about the experiment...and I recommend you take the time to compare them, perhaps reading each one aloud. They vary quite a bit from the speech so familiar to so many, and it's a stunning to realize just how different the hearing experience may have been for various audience members. (Not examined in this effort was the impact that regional dialects--those of the speaker and those of the audience members--may have had on hearing and understanding.)

Gissen points out that the address was a much more fluid text than the one we recite today, and that more than six transcriptions were published after the speech took place, all with different areas of emphasis and all contributing in part to the official version:
In the weeks following his delivery of this speech, Lincoln reviewed various transcriptions and decided which of the transcribed versions of the dedication would be the official Gettysburg Address that we know today. However, as a read and unrecorded speech, originally listened to by an audience of thousands, the address was and is not the stable document that we monumentalize today.  
“Listening to a speech” emphasizes the address as a fluctuating document read in a large landscape to thousands of people and that reflected on themes of death, sacrifice and war. With its similarities and differences to what we understand of the original, the environmental translations shown above also emphasize language as something that can record a representation of sound and space, much like a phonographic recording. It is a representation of the struggle to listen among crowds and at a distance and the fragile, unpredictable aspects of listening and apprehending any spoken language.
This is a highly unusual look at whether speeches are heard, using technology, ironically, to take us back to a time before microphones and speakers and all the other aids we use to make sure speakers are heard today. Those mics and amplifiers are, of course, still imperfect tools, and audiences hear and mishear speakers despite all the tech support. That "struggle to listen" still takes place every time a speaker clears her throat and begins a talk.

For today's speaker, it's important to remember that volume isn't the only tool that helps audiences hear you. Your speed counts almost as much, and slowing down will improve the level of comprehension among your listeners--particularly when you are speaking in their second language, but also when you and the audience have the same first language.

You can read more about the impact of technology on the history of public speaking in my article for Toastmaster magazine.

I'm grateful Michael Erard pointed me to this unusual look at a speech we think we know.

(Creative Commons licensed photo by eltpics)

Get involved in more conversations on public speaking with The Eloquent Woman. Follow our Facebook page, read great quotes from eloquent woman on Pinterest, follow me as @dontgetcaught on Twitter or track when others tweet about the lack of women speakers on programs via @NoWomenSpeakers. Learn how to be a better panel moderator with The Eloquent Woman's Guide to Moderating Panels.

Monday, October 24, 2016

The Eloquent Woman's weekly speaker toolkit

If you want to keep up with my wide-ranging reading list about women and speaking in real time, follow The Eloquent Woman on Facebook where these links are posted all week long--or just head here on Mondays, where I summarize them all for you. Either way, you'll be expanding your understanding of women and speaking:

Friday, October 21, 2016

Famous Speech Friday: Arianna Huffington's "Thrive" speech

Arianna Huffington just stepped down as the head of Huffington Post, to focus on a new venture of hers called Thrive. While it was new to many, Huffington actually sowed the seed of her latest venture in 2013, when she addressed the Smith College commencement and first shared this story about herself. After urging the graduates to "sleep your way to the top," she explained:
But no, I’m talking about sleep in the literal sense. Because right now, the workplace is absolutely fueled by sleep deprivation and burnout. I know of what I speak: In 2007, sleep deprived and exhausted, I fainted, hit my head on my desk, broke my cheekbone and got four stitches on my right eye. And that was the beginning of my reacquainting myself with sleep, and with the need to redefine success to include our own well-being. Even if sleep deprivation is not affecting your health, it’s affecting your creativity, your productivity, and your decision-making. The Exxon Valdez wreck, the explosion of the Challenger space shuttle, and the nuclear accidents at Chernobyl and Three Mile Island — all were at least partially the result of decisions made on too little sleep.
Huffington goes on to share her ideas about what she calls "the third metric" of success, adding well-being to the more traditional markers of money and power. It's what today forms the basis of her new company, so this commencement address can be considered a bit of a field test.

In this speech, Huffington also builds toward her thesis in ways that complement and pave the way for her central idea. She begins by sharing mentions about the activities, memories, and accomplishments of Smith graduates, which she gleaned by looking at their Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook feeds. She shares stories about her mother's wisdom on living a life rather than working yourself to death. And she gave them glimpses into the corporate world of Huffington Post, to share examples of how her ideas play out in the form of nap rooms and an app they call GPS for the Soul.

The theme--an urging not to forget the self and well-being in your quest for success--is a popular one in commencement speeches. But this graduating class also could say it was in on the ground floor of a new company, even if they didn't realize it at the time. What can you learn from this famous speech?

  • Take the time to research and reflect your audience: Huffington could have done her research and then made sweeping statements about the aspirations and accomplishments of her listeners, as many commencement speakers do. But by sprinkling into her speech some specifics about the students, naming them and exactly what they did, she guaranteed closer attention, pride, and surprise among her listeners. And isn't that what a speaker wants?
  • Share some new thoughts and expertise with us: Huffington was a recognizable marquee-name speaker, but here, her "expertise" lies in having an accident at her desk that set her off on a new perspective and focus. What's refreshing about her "third metric" thinking is that it's new, framed in her own experience, and thought through in terms of how it's reflected in current research and trends. So many commencement speakers reach for the trite, tried, and true, instead of sharing real insight. This is a refreshing change of pace.
  • Weave personal touches throughout: Echoing her theme of the importance of life as well as work, Huffington's speech weaves personal touches all the way through, whether she is sharing stories about individual graduates or herself and her work colleagues. While she does tell personal stories, these smaller personal touches offer you a good example of how to make your remarks more connective and personal without having to share a story outright.

You can find the full text here, and watch the video here or below. But be sure to get some sleep, first.


(Smith College photo)

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Let's stop tormenting speakers about these four normal qualities

There's a type of speaker coaching that's common, but more and more distasteful to me. It's coaching (or just garden-variety advice) that focuses on factors that, in large part, are normal and natural. Much is made of these factors, but the honest truth is that you'd do better to focus on your content and your confidence, and practice more, than to obsess about any of these normal qualities, in my humble opinion.

That's especially true for women speakers, since the over-attention to these factors can sometimes be used to silence women. After all, if we're all busy nitpicking how you speak, we're not really listening to what you're saying, right? As linguistics professor Robin Lakoff says, "We ought not to be instructing women to be better speakers. We should rather be teaching ourselves to be better listeners."

Here's my short list:
  • Ums and uhs: Yes, these can be distracting on those rare occasions where the nervous or ill-prepared speaker dumps 2 ums for every word. But for the rest of us, ums and uhs are normal--so much so, they are found in every language in the world, and make up about 10 percent of EVERYONE's speech. Everyone. (And most of the words you utter are function words like "a," "an," and "the." "Um" doesn't come close.) Even the very first audio recording, made by Thomas Edison, includes a big, fat "um" in the middle of it. And it was audio recording that made us all aware of our ums, according to Michael Erard's excellent book, Um. . .: Slips, Stumbles, and Verbal Blunders, and What They Mean. Instead of working on replacing ums--which generally are a sign you've forgotten what you want to say--try practicing more in advance of your speech or presentation, or work on memorizing portions or all of the talk. Most of your audience won't notice um any more than they do, say, the more frequently uttered "the." Some suggest there are advantages to using ums.
  • Vocal fry and uptalk: These supposedly modern trends in speaking are often attributed to young women (although plenty of men from Silicon Valley helped make uptalk popular over the past 25 years). Now, linguists say you should be giving them credit for establishing trends in how we all speak, rather than trying to get them to reform themselves. One linguist says, "The truth is this: Young women take linguistic features and use them as power tools for building relationships." And since the article cites such old-timers as actress Mae West as a vocal fry user on occasion--for emphasis--let's stop blaming and shaming young speakers on this score. Apparently, it's been around a lot longer than you think.
  • Resting face: I've already suggested that we take the "bitch" out of "resting bitch face," because it's a phenomenon that occurs no matter what your gender is. Everyone's face in default mode or resting mode has a mouth that either flatlines, or is slightly downturned. So it's normal for you to have "resting face" when you are not actively speaking. "Resting bitch face," to my ear, is another way of telling women they ought to smile, suggesting that they're there to be pleasant and pretty. But there's nothing wrong with not being "on" all the time. After all, in a poker game or a tense, political meeting, a good resting face is a decided asset.
  • Gesturing: I still shake my head when I hear people being shamed, or feeling ashamed, for gesturing. Your brain needs you to gesture in order to produce smooth and fluent speech, and the gestures can be random, not necessarily a literal illustration of your words. So gesture away, dear speakers. And if you're one of those who keeps your hands in your pockets to avoid gesturing, remember: Immobilizing your hands will make you stumble and sputter and "um" more, so keep one hand free to gesture, at a minimum.
These qualities are often criticized with an emphasis on whether you are doing them too much. And it's true: Doing almost anything too much in a talk is overkill. But few people gesture continually or vocal fry or um their way through an entire talk. If you're in doubt about the frequency and duration of any factor in your speeches, try a video recording of your practice. You may find that you feel as if you're doing something a lot when you actually are not. What worries me more is when people pounce on you for just one "um" or gesture. 

Each of these criticisms is a useful occasion for thinking clearly about your audience--that is, the person leveling the criticism. Often, the person giving advice about these factors will say, "It drives me crazy when I hear..." -- but that's just it. Others in your audience probably don't notice. So why are you customizing your presenting style for one listener? And is that listener really upset about something else, like the fact that you're speaking and he's not?

Most of the time, freely shared advice represents only that one person; that's one of the major differences between getting coaching from a professional with thousands of use cases, and someone who just wants you to present the way she would do it. Unfortunately, however, many coaches focus on picking just these nits, or focusing on externals instead of your content. Some observers will use them to shame you into being silent. The most important thing for speakers to remember is that these are natural, not unnatural, qualities, not deep flaws that will prevent you from becoming a great speaker. Spend some time thinking about the context for the criticism, before you take it personally.

(Creative Commons licensed photo by Nicole Mays)

Join me in Edinburgh, Scotland, on October 20 for a new workshop, Add Meaning with Metaphor: Improve your Speeches with the Most Powerful Figure of Speech. It's a pre-conference workshop at the Edinburgh Speechwriters and Business Communicators Conference, designed to help both speakers and speechwriters use this powerful tool. You can register here for just the workshop, the conference, or both, and you'll get the best discount if you sign up by August 1.

Monday, October 17, 2016

The Eloquent Woman's weekly speaker toolkit

If you want to keep up with my wide-ranging reading list about women and speaking in real time, follow The Eloquent Woman on Facebook where these links are posted all week long--or just head here on Mondays, where I summarize them all for you. Either way, you'll be expanding your understanding of women and speaking:

Friday, October 14, 2016

Famous Speech Friday: Michelle Obama's "Enough is Enough"

This is the speech I've been waiting for, in more ways than one.

In a year-plus of misogynistic insults and slurs aimed at our highly qualified first woman candidate for president, this is the speech I've been waiting for.

In a month when we heard it was okay, even fun, to force yourself on women, uninvited, this is the speech I've been waiting for.

In a week when a hashtag about repealing women's right to vote--the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution--is trending on Twitter, this is the speech I've been waiting for.

I've been waiting for just this speech, and then Michelle Obama showed up and delivered it. It's powerful and potent, detailing as it does misogyny in women's everyday lives, and in the loud, acidic language of the current U.S. presidential election.

There are other things I've been waiting to hear in a speech that this one delivered.

I've been waiting, first of all, for a great example of a campaign stump speech. But I often find them wanting. This one is fully formed, from laying out the broad issues, focusing them within the lives of the listeners, working the crowd up from agreement to passion, and then driving home the call to action--in this case, getting out the vote for Hillary Clinton. And she does it, once again, without ever naming Clinton's opponent. I think this is a stump speech to be studied, and imitated, if you can.

I've been waiting to hear more of how the First Lady sounds in her final months in the White House, when she has an advantage many speakers lack in everyday life: The freedom to say what she really thinks, unburdened by a reelection looming in the distance. The words pack a punch, each of them, and so does the delivery, that of a now-polished speaker who has found her own voice and style of speaking, calm and centered, yet powerful.

Finally, forcefully, and fully, Michelle Obama tackles not only Trump's behavior, but the real effect it has on women, in a way that lets you know directly that she, too, has experienced these things...and in a way that leaves no room for doubt how inappropriate it is. There are no weasel words and euphemisms and dodges-of-the-issue here. The topic is awful, but the speech is refreshing, frank, and honest, an artful example of wringing hope out of a serious and depressing subject.

That's in large part due to the psychology behind the speech. Like so many of the Clinton campaign's responses or non-responses to its opponent, this one makes use of sound psychological principals, the ones you use when you are speaking to or about a bully or a narcissist. The speech sets barriers. It models the outrage we feel, and gives us a model for how to talk about it in public.

You can see the impact on the crowd in the video below. Early in the speech, Obama signals that she has a serious topic to discuss, and the audience listens without making noise for far longer than most campaign rally crowds. But as she continues, the crowd finds its natural place in the speech, answering rhetorical questions and applauding the strong sentiments.

More important, I think, is the feeling of relief: Relief that someone took the time to put together and deliver a forthright speech that wasn't afraid to talk about the misogyny and harassment that have come to the surface of this campaign again and again. It's clear that the U.S. presidential election this year, as others have said, is really a referendum on whether we are really ready for a woman president--even an overqualified one. This speech puts down a marker about why the election matters, and why women and their rights matter.

In the eight years she has been First Lady of the United States, we've featured Michelle Obama no less than five times, making her speeches among the more frequent entries in The Eloquent Woman Index of Famous Speeches by Women. But this speech exceeds them all. As it was happening, women all over the world got on social media to say, in effect, "Stop what you are doing and watch this now." I don't want to pull just one or two quotes for you, so I am putting the full video and transcript below.

Here's the video: Michelle Obama Speaks Out About Latest Allegations Against Donald Trump

And here is the full transcript. Sit down and read, men and women, please...and then share it widely.
Remarks of First Lady Michelle Obama, Campaign Appearance, Manchester, New Hampshire October 13, 2016
Let me just say, hello everyone! I am so thrilled to be with you all here today in New Hampshire. This is like home to me, and this day — thank you for a beautiful fall day. You just ordered this day up for me, didn't you? It's great to be here. Let me start by thanking your fabulous governor, your next U.S. senator, Maggie Hassan. I want to thank her for that lovely introduction. I also want to recognize your congresswoman Annie McClane Kuster, who's a dear, dear friend, your soon-to-be congresswoman once again Carol Shea-Porter, all of whom have been just terrific friends to us, and your Executive Council and candidate for governor, Colin Van Ostern. And of course, thanks to all of you for taking the time to be here today. [audience cheers and applauds] Thanks so much. That's very sweet of you. I love you guys, too.
I can't believe it's just a few weeks before Election Day as we come together to support the next president and vice president of the United States, Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine. And New Hampshire is going to be important, as always. So I'm going to get a little serious here, because I think we can all agree that this has been a rough week in an already rough election. This week has been particularly interesting for me personally because it has been a week of profound contrast. 
See, on Tuesday at the White House we celebrated the Internationa Day of the Girl and Let Girls Learn and it was a wonderful celebration. It was the last event that I'm going to be doing as first lady for Let Girls Learn and I had the pleasure of spending hours talking to some of the most amazing young women you will ever meet — young girls here in the U.S. and all around the world. And we talked about their hopes and their dreams. We talked about their aspirations. See, many of these girls have faced unthinkable obstacles just to attend school. Jeopardizing their personal safety, their freedom, risking the rejection of their families and communities. 
So, I thought it would be important to remind these young women how valuable and precious they are. I wanted them to understand that the measure of any society is how it treats its women and girls. And I told them that they deserve to be treated with dignity and respect, and I told them that they should disregard anyone who demeans or devalues them, and that they should make their voices heard in the world. And I walked away feeling so inspired, just like I'm inspired by all the young people here, and I was so uplifted by these girls. 
That was Tuesday. And now here I am out on the campaign trail in an election where we have consistently been hearing hurtful, hateful language about women. Language that has been painful for so many of us, not just as women, but as parents trying to protect our children and raise them to be caring, respectful adults, and as citizens who think our nation's leaders should meet basic standards of human decency. The fact is that, in this election, we have a candidate for president of the United States who over the course of his lifetime, and the course of this campaign, has said things about women that are so shocking, so demeaning that I simply will not repeat anything here today. And last week, we saw this candidate actually bragging about sexually assaulting women. I can't believe that I'm saying that a candidate for president of the United States has bragged about sexually assaulting women. And I have to tell you that I can't stop thinking about this. It has shaken me to my core in a way that I couldn't have predicted. 
So, while I'd love nothing more than to pretend like this isn't happening and come out here and do my normal campaign speech, it would be dishonest and disingenuous to me to just move on to the next thing like this was all just a bad dream. This is not something that we can ignore. This is not something that we can sweep under the rug as just another disturbing footnote in a sad election season because this was not just a lewd conversation. This wasn't just locker room banter. This was a powerful individual speaking freely and openly about sexually predatory behavior. And actually bragging about kissing and groping women using language so obscene that many of us worried about our children hearing it when we turned on the TV. And to make matters worse it now seems very clear that this isn't an isolated incident. It's one of countless examples of how he has treated women his whole life. 
And I have to tell you that I listen to all of this, and I feel it so personally. And I'm sure that many of you do, too, particularly the women. The shameful comments about our bodies. The disrespect of our ambitions and intellect. The belief that you can do anything you want to a woman. It is cruel. It's frightening. And the truth is, it hurts. It hurts. It's like that sick, sinking feeling you get when you're walking down the street, minding your own business, and some guy yells out vulgar words about your body. Or when you see that guy at work that stands just a little too close, stares a little too long, and makes you feel uncomfortable in your own skin. It's that feeling of terror and violation that too many women have felt when someone has grabbed them or forced himself on them, and they've said no, but he didn't listen. Something that we know happens on college campuses and countless other places every single day. It reminds us of stories we've heard from our mothers and grandmothers about how back in their day the boss could say and do whatever he pleased to the women in the office. And even though they worked so hard, jumped over every hurdle to prove themselves, it was never enough. We thought all of that was ancient history, didn't we? 
And so many have worked for so many years to end this kind of violence and abuse and disrespect but here we are. In 2016 and we're hearing these exact same things every day of the campaign trail. We are drowning in it. And all of us are doing what women have always done. We're trying to keep our heads above water. Just trying to get through it, trying to pretend like this doesn't really bother us. Maybe because we think that admitting how much it hurts makes us as women look weak. Maybe we're afraid to be that vulnerable. Maybe we've grown accustomed to swallowing these emotions and staying quiet because we've seen that people often won't take our word over his. Or maybe we don't want to believe that there are still people out there who think so little of us as women. Too many are treating this as just another day's headline. As if our outrage is overblown or unwarranted. As if this is normal. Just politics as usual. 
But New Hampshire, be clear; this is not normal. This is not politics as usual. This is disgraceful. It is intolerable and it doesn't matter what party you belong to — Democrat, Republican, Independent — no woman deserves to be treated this way. None of us deserve this kind of abuse. And I know it's a campaign, but this isn't about politics. It's about basic human decency. It's about right and wrong and we simply cannot endure this or expose our children to this any longer. Not for another minute, let alone for four years. Now is the time for all of us to stand up and say "enough is enough." 
This has got to stop right now because consider this: If all of this is painful to us as grown women, what do you think this is doing to our children? What messages are little girls hearing about who they should look like, how they should act? What lessons are they learning about their value as professionals, as human beings? About their dreams and aspirations? And how is this affecting men and boys in this country because I can tell you that the men in my life do not talk about women like this and I know that my family is not unusual. And to dismiss this as everyday locker room talk is an insult to decent men everywhere. The men that you and I know don't treat women this way, they are loving fathers who are sickened by the thought of their daughters being exposed to this kind of vicious language about women. They are husbands and brothers and sons who don't tolerate women being treated and demeaned and disrespected. And, like us, these men are worried about the impact this election is having on our boys who are looking for role models for what it means to be a man. 
In fact, someone recently told me a story about their 6-year-old son who one day was watching the news, they were watching the news together, and the little boy out of the blue said, "I think Hillary Clinton will be president." And his mom said, "well why do you say that?" And this little 6-year-old said, "because the other guy called someone a piggy." And he said, "you cannot be president if you call someone a piggy." So even a 6-year-old knows better. A 6-year-old knows that this is not how adults behave, this is not how decent human beings behave, and this is certainly not how someone who wants to be president of the United States behaves. 
Because let's be very clear, strong men, strong men, men who are truly role models don't need to put down women to make themselves feel powerful. People who are truly strong lift others up. People who are truly powerful bring others together and that is what we need in our next president. We need someone who is a uniting force in this country. We need someone who will heal the wounds that divide us. Someone who truly cares about us and our children. Someone with strength and compassion to lead this country forward. And let me tell you I am here today because I believe with all of my heart that Hillary Clinton will be that president. 
See, we know that Hillary is the right person for the job because we've seen her character and commitment not just in this campaign but over the course of her entire life. The fact is that Hillary embodies so many of the values that we try so hard to teach our young people. We tell our young people: work hard in school, get a good education. We encourage them to use that education to help others which is exactly what Hillary did with her college and law degrees, advocating for kids with disabilities, fighting for children's health care as first lady, affordable childcare in the Senate. We teach our kids the value of being a team player, which is what Hillary exemplified when she lost the 2008 election and actually agreed to work for her opponent as our secretary of State earning sky-high approval ratings serving her country once again. We also teach our kids that you don't take shortcuts in life, and you strive for meaningful success in whatever job you do. Well, Hillary has been a lawyer, a law professor, First Lady of Arkansas, First Lady of the United States, a U.S. Senator, Secretary of State. And she has been successful in every role, gaining more experience and exposure to the presidency than any candidate in our lifetime. More than Barack. More than Bill. And, yes, she happens to be a woman. 
And finally, we teach our kids that when you hit challenges in life you don't give up, you stick with it. Well during her four years as secretary of State alone, Hillary has faced her share of challenges. She's traveled to 112 countries, negotiated a ceasefire, a peace agreement, a release of dissidents, she spent 11 hours testifying before a Congressional committee. We know that when things get tough, Hillary doesn't complain, she doesn't blame others, she doesn't abandon ship for something easier. No, Hillary Clinton has never quit on anything in her life.

So, in Hillary we have a candidate who has dedicated her life to public service. Someone who has waited her turn and helped out while waiting. She is an outstanding mother. She has raised a phenomenal young woman. She is a loving, loyal wife. She is a devoted daughter who cared for her mother until her final days. And if any of us had raised a daughter like Hillary Clinton we would be so proud. We would be proud. And regardless of who her opponent might be, no one could be more qualified for this job than Hillary, no one. 
And in this election, if we turn away from her, if we just stand by and allow her opponent to be elected then what are we teaching our children about the values they should hold, about the kind of life they should lead? What are we saying? In our hearts, in our hearts, we all know that if we let Hillary's opponent win this election then we are sending a clear message to our kids that everything they're seeing and hearing is perfectly okay. We are validating it. We are endorsing it. We are telling our sons that it's okay to humiliate women. We're telling our daughters that this is how they deserve to be treated. We're all our kids that bigotry and bullying are perfectly acceptable in the leader of their country. Is that what we want for our children? 
And remember, we won't just be setting a bad example for our kids, but for our entire world. Because for so long America has been a model for countries across the globe — pushing them to educate their girls, insisting that they give more rights to their women. But if we have a president who routinely degrades women, who brags about sexually assaulting women, then how can we maintain our moral authority in the world? How can we continue to be a beacon of freedom and justice and human dignity? Well, fortunately, New Hampshire, here's the beauty: we have everything we need to stop this madness. You see while our mothers and grandmothers were often powerless to change their circumstances, today we, as women, have all the power we need to determine the outcome of this election. We have knowledge. We have a voice. We have a vote. And November the 8th, we as women, we as Americans, we as decent human beings, can come together and declare that enough is enough, that we do not tolerate this kind of behavior in this country.

Remember this: In 2012 women's votes were the difference between Barack winning and losing in key swing states, including right here in New Hampshire. So, for anyone who might be thinking that your one vote doesn't really matter, or that one person can't really make a difference consider this: back in 2012 Barack won New Hampshire by about 40,000 votes, which sounds like a lot, but when you break that number down the difference between winning and losing this state was about 66 votes per precinct. Just take that in. If 66 people each precinct had gone the other way, Barack would have lost.

So, each of you right here today could help swing an entire precinct and win this election for Hillary just by getting yourselves, your family, and your friends, and neighbors out to vote. You can do it right here. But you could also help swing an entire precinct for Hillary's opponent with a protest vote or by staying home out of frustration because here's the truth: Either Hillary Clinton or her opponent will be elected president this year. And if you vote for someone other than Hillary or if you don't vote at all then you are helping to elect her opponent. And just think about how you will feel if that happens. Imagine waking up on November the 9th and looking into the eyes of your daughter or son or looking into your own eyes as you stare into the mirror. Imagine how you'll feel if you stayed home, or if you didn't do everything possible to elect Hillary. We simply cannot let that happen. We cannot allow ourselves to be so disgusted that we just shut off the TV and walk away and we can't just sit around wringing our hands. No, we need to recover from our shock and depression and do what women have always done in this country. We need you to roll up your sleeves, we need to get to work! Because remember this, when they go low, we go... [audience yells "high"] Yes we do.

And voting ourselves is a great start, but we also have to step up and start organizing. So, we need you to make calls and knock on doors and get folks to the polls on Election Day and sign up to volunteer with one of the Hillary campaign folks who are here today just waiting for you to step up. And young people and not so young people get on social media, share your own story of why this election matters. Why it should matter for all people of conscience in this country. There is so much at stake in this election. See, the choice you make November 8th could determine whether we have a president who treats people with respect or not. A president who will fight for kids, for good schools, for good jobs, for our families, or not. A president who thinks that women deserve the right to make our own choices about our bodies and our health or not. That's just a little bit of what's at stake so we cannot afford to be tired or turned off and we cannot afford to stay home on Election Day.

Because on November the 8th we have the power to show our children that America's greatness comes from recognizing the innate dignity and worth of all our people. On November the 8th we can show our children that this country is big enough to have a place for us all: men and women, folks of every background and walk of life. And that each of us is a precious part of this great American story and we are always stronger together.

On November 8th we can show our children than here in America we reject hatred and fear, and in difficult times we don't discard our highest ideals, no, we rise up to meet them. We rise up to perfect our union. We rise up to defend our blessings of liberty. We rise up to embody the values of equality and opportunity and sacrifice that have always made this country the greatest nation on earth. That is who we are and don't ever let anyone tell you differently. Hope is important. Hope is important for our young people and we deserve a president who can see those truths in us. A president who can bring us together and bring out the very best in us. Hillary Clinton will be that president.

So, for the next 26 days we need to do everything we can to help her and Tim Kaine win this election. I know I'm going to be doing it, are you with me? Are you all with me? Are you ready to roll up your sleeves? Get to work knocking on doors! All right let's get to work. Thank you all, God bless.

Get involved in more conversations on public speaking with The Eloquent Woman. Follow our Facebook page, read great quotes from eloquent woman on Pinterest, follow me as @dontgetcaught on Twitter or track when others tweet about the lack of women speakers on programs via @NoWomenSpeakers. Learn how to be a better panel moderator with The Eloquent Woman's Guide to Moderating Panels.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Measuring who's talking: Men or women? A tool for your next meeting

We all owe Cathy Deng thanks for coming up with this simple tool that measures who's talking more: men or women?

Freely available on,  side-by-side timers let you keep track of who dominates the conversation, be it in a meeting, a panel discussion, or a conference. It's simple and elegant--and a great way to check out your perceptions with data.

Readers are already thinking about putting this tool to use, as you can see in the tweets below:

If you try it out, share the data you collect with me on Twitter at @NoWomenSpeakers or @dontgetcaught, or on The Eloquent Woman on Facebook. Let's go get some data, eloquent women!

Join me in Edinburgh, Scotland, on October 20 for a new workshop, Add Meaning with Metaphor: Improve your Speeches with the Most Powerful Figure of Speech. It's a pre-conference workshop at the Edinburgh Speechwriters and Business Communicators Conference, designed to help both speakers and speechwriters use this powerful tool. You can register here for just the workshop, the conference, or both, and you'll get the best discount if you sign up by August 1.

Monday, October 10, 2016

The Eloquent Woman's weekly speaker toolkit

If you want to keep up with my wide-ranging reading list about women and speaking in real time, follow The Eloquent Woman on Facebook where these links are posted all week long--or just head here on Mondays, where I summarize them all for you. Either way, you'll be expanding your understanding of women and speaking:

Friday, October 7, 2016

For #HispanicHeritageMonth, 6 famous speeches by Hispanic women

Over the airways or through a bullhorn, from the bench or the ballpark or the awards stage, these six Hispanic women made their marks with speeches that swayed audiences and set the bar high. And the speeches run the gamut: A radio address, a protest-march speech, an awards acceptance speech, a baseball game live commentary, a convention keynote, and a law school classroom question are all here. I'm delighted to present them during Hispanic Heritage Month. Each of these speeches is part of The Eloquent Woman Index of Famous Speeches by Women, and at the links, you will find, where available, video or audio or text of the speeches, along with an analysis and at least three tips you can use based on these speeches for your next speech. Enjoy this vibrant collection!
  1. Anna Maria Chávez at 2011 Girl Scouts Convention didn't just share her own path as a Girl Scout. The CEO of the national scouting organization also got her audience to picture themselves in the lives of future scouts with this inspiring speech.
  2. Dolores Huerta at the Delano Grape Strike March gave this stirring speech as the cap to a 300-mile protest march to shed light on migrant workers' job conditions. Her calls to action were underscored by action words used throughout this speech, all evoking forward motion.
  3. Evita Peron's 1951 Renunciamento was delivered on radio, to tell her adoring public that she would not accept the vice presidency of Argentina, despite calls to do so. Short and poignant, it is among her most powerful speeches.
  4. Jessica Mendoza calls a major league baseball playoff was a first for a woman broadcaster in a sport still plagued by gender discrimination. A ballplayer herself, Mendoza used her experience to take advantage of a lucky break to get on the air--then hit a home run with her delivery, so that the network had to offer her a permanent slot in this prominent speaking role.
  5. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor's law school question happened late in her law school education--but caught out the professor in a mistake. It's an important model for women who hold back on asking questions, and a reminder that every question is really just a short speech.
  6. Berta Cáceres's 2015 Goldman Prize Speech, given just months before the Honduran environmental activist was assassinated, shared her steely resolve to see justice done and reflected the way she loomed large in her chosen area of activism.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

What if the speaker is bored? 5 solutions for your tired presentation

"The real problem," said the executive as we watched a video of his most recent presentation, "is that I'm bored here."

I could almost tell that without his insight. He looked uninspired, even a little vacant. No smiles, no expression. Not much energy. And I could imagine the audience looking the same way. One thing I know for sure: When the speaker is bored, so is the audience. In this case, that's in part because most of the people working in this area felt they had seen, heard, and said it all before. That means it's time to switch up your approach to your next talk. Try these five fixes to get out of the boredom rut:
  1. Embrace questions, part 1: If you're tired of your prepared fodder, turn to questions. Start your presentation by taking five minutes' worth of questions, and answering right away those which have short answers. Promise that the rest will be answered in your presentation or immediately following it, and ask the audience to keep you honest so you do track back to answer them. This is an electrifying way to start a presentation. You also might do an all-Q&A format, which requires you to be ready for many things; it, too, captivates audiences and ensures that many more questions will get answered, a win for everyone. My advice? Ask someone to write down every question you get, as those can help you revise your standing presentations going forward. Think of it as crowdsourcing relevant content. 
  2. Get a new structure: If your job is to persuade, try fitting your preso into Monroe's motivated sequence to see how it changes. This approach is highly effective for pitches or presentations designed to prime decision-makers to take an action, and its five steps--including my favorite, where you help the listeners visualize what will happen with your solution, or without it--may be just what you need to keep yourself motivated as well.
  3. Embrace questions, part 2: If your audience, and you, *really* have plowed all the ground there is to plow on this topic, consider constructing your talk as all questions--in other words, your talk will pose all the questions that are out there, big and small, including questions about what we're all doing here giving the same talks as usual. It's a novel way to express all the unsaid things your audience is thinking, while getting them to think about the topic in a new way. Provocative and audience-focused, this is a winning tactic.
  4. Tell a fable: Fables have fallen by the wayside in storytelling, more's the pity. But that means this approach will be fresh for you and for your audience. If you can structure your point or pitch in the form of a fable--a tale that ends with a clear lesson, using other characters, often animals, as proxies for the people involved--you'll have a neat, clear package of a presentation, and one that is likely easier for you and for the audience to remember. Aesop's fables are the classics, but if you want a look at some modern fables, try Friedman's Fables by psychologist Ed Friedman. They're thought-provoking, and come with discussion questions, a reminder that your own fable can lead up to a provocative discussion and Q&A afterward.
  5. Find a metaphor to weave throughout: When we use metaphor, we often do so in a throwaway fashion, in one sentence, moving on to another later on. Instead, try to find a metaphor you can weave throughout your presentation. This so-called "extended use" metaphor gives your audience some consistency on which to hang its attention. And if you want to learn more about metaphor in speeches and presentations, come to my workshop in Edinburgh in October; the links are below.
(Creative Commons licensed photo by NASA Goddard Space Flight Center)

Join me in Edinburgh, Scotland, on October 20 for a new workshop, Add Meaning with Metaphor: Improve your Speeches with the Most Powerful Figure of Speech. It's a pre-conference workshop at the Edinburgh Speechwriters and Business Communicators Conference, designed to help both speakers and speechwriters use this powerful tool. You can register here for just the workshop, the conference, or both, and you'll get the best discount if you sign up by August 1.

Monday, October 3, 2016

The Eloquent Woman's weekly speaker toolkit

If you want to keep up with my wide-ranging reading list about women and speaking in real time, follow The Eloquent Woman on Facebook where these links are posted all week long--or just head here on Mondays, where I summarize them all for you. Either way, you'll be expanding your understanding of women and speaking: