Friday, December 2, 2016

8 famous speeches by women before the U.S. Congress

Some would say there's no more high-stakes talk you can give than testimony or an address before the U.S. Congress...and that's true whether you're a senator or representative, a witness, an executive branch official, an expert witness, a citizen, or a foreign head of state. We've got them all in this collection, and each of these speeches brought controversy and frank talk to the Congress. Each of these speeches also 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. Testify along with these bold speakers:

  1. German Chancellor Angela Merkel's 2009 address to both houses of Congress shared a personal memory of growing up in postwar Germany, as well as a rebuke to the Americans about support for climate change measures.
  2. Anita Hill's Senate testimony against Clarence Thomas's nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court set the nation afire with public speaking about sexual harassment, and prompted thousands of women to speak up about their own harassment in the workplace.
  3. Clara Barton's Andersonville testimony to Congress was a graphic description of what she saw in an infamous prisoner-of-war camp during the Civil War, delivered at a time when women rarely spoke in public, let alone before the Congress.
  4. Hillary Clinton answered a tough question before a congressional committee during her tenure as Secretary of State, demonstrating how to disagree with a leading question calmly and with control. 
  5. Margaret Chase Smith's 1950 Declaration of Conscience was a rare rebuke to fellow senator Joe McCarthy about his witch-hunt tactics against rumored Communists in America. So strong and singular was this statement that it was later said if a man had given it, he'd be elected president.
  6. Shirley Chisholm introduces the Equal Rights Amendment--not the first time, but again, during the women's movement of the 1970s. Perhaps based on her own experience, she said, "If women are already equal, why is it such an event whenever one happens to be elected to Congress?"
  7. and 8. Representatives Gwen Moore and Jacke Speier on abortion rights and family planning were floor speeches these members of Congress used to share their own personal experiences with unplanned pregnancies in moving, impromptu remarks.

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.