Tuesday, December 29, 2009

2009's great examples of women speakers

This week, reader and speaker coach Claire Duffy from Sydney, Australia, shared how a search for examples of women speakers brought her to this blog:

I got onto your blog when a 14 year old student was entering a competition where she needed to present a speech by a famous Australian. She wanted it to be by a woman. Need I say that no suitable speech could be found. It was my research for her that led me to you.

It reassures me that the issue of getting women to speak in public is a live one in the US - which has a more vigorous oral culture than we do here. In my schools I see the problem quite clearly - girls de-select themselves. Junior girls enter public speaking competitions and do debating, but by the time they're in the senior years the boys outnumber them by two to one. No wonder they're not out there presenting as adults! Hopefully we can gradually turn this round.

I don't have examples of great women speakers from Australia to offer, but welcome readers' ideas and suggestions to share with Claire and her trainees. Here are the women speakers we've featured on this blog in 2009, many shared by readers or sought by readers looking for good speaking role models:

  • Carol Bartz, CEO of Yahoo! in her first speech as a new CEO
  • Actress Jane Fonda and her voice lessons before a new play
  • Speakers who participated in major speech competitions: Writer Elizabeth Evitts Dickinson on her first PowerPoint presentation and Ignite! talk; Anne Medlock and her "near-TED experience;" and marketer Jennifer Cohen, who gave her very first talk at Ignite!
  • Posted on International Women's Day, speeches by author and activist Isabel Allende, Nigerian finance minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, scientist Nalini Nadkarni and singer Nellie McKay
  • Our top women speakers series, including Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Bishop Kathryn Jefforts Schori, athlete and disability activist Aimee Mullins, First Lady Michelle Obama, Governor Jennifer Granholm and chemist and professor Carolyn Bertozzi
  • Top women commencement speakers highlighted by one of our speechwriter-readers: performers Meryl Streep and Melissa Etheridge; writers like Gloria Steinem and Anna Quindlen; first ladies Michelle Obama and Barbara Bush; executive Carly Fiorina, impresario Oprah Winfrey and playwright Margaret Edson
  • Debra Davidson, a sander at the Martin Guitar Factory and my tour guide there
  • Blogging entrepreneurs Katie Kemple, who used experience bellydancing to improve her speaking, and Leah Garnett, who took her inspiration from performing on guitar.
  • Supreme Court Justices Ruth Bader Ginsberg, who raised the issue of women getting talked over in meetings, and Sonia Sotomayor, who used storytelling in her confirmation hearings to good effect.
  • Kenneth Cole CEO Jill Granoff and Elle Group chief brand officer Carol Smith, both of whom highlighted challenges women face in workplace speaking and presenting
  • Speaking from the nonprofit sector were The Acumen Fund's Jacqueline Novogratz, who ably demonstrated how to speak up for a good cause, and Red Cross President Gail McGovern
  • Author Elizabeth Gilbert, whose TED talk demonstrates great speaker presence

Please do continue to share your good examples of women speakers, particularly if you can point us to video of them speaking. I look forward to adding to this impressive list in 2010!

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