Wednesday, March 2, 2011

A quotable challenge: Let's use more examples of women speakers

From what I'm reading--including email requests from speechwriters and speaking coaches--we've got a problem finding great speeches and presentations by women speakers.
Just as women find it difficult to get on the program as speakers at major conferences, time and again, I get inquiries asking, "Are there any top women speakers of today that I can use as examples? I can't seem to find any." Most recently, The Guardian looked at the history of public speaking and concluded it's tough to tell what makes a great speech when it's hard to find the ones women have given.

It's not that women aren't speaking, but they're apparently not visible. Or maybe folks just aren't looking that hard. Witness that some of my inquirers ask the question above and specify "Since Eleanor Roosevelt" or "since Barbara Jordan," two powerhouse speakers who nonetheless left us many decades ago.

So here, readers, is The Eloquent Woman challenge: Let's each spend the next year taking the time to quote women speakers when we're writing or delivering speeches or presentations. Let's mention and quote them on our blogs. Let's use them as examples when we are training, coaching or encouraging other speakers, men or women.

And if you're wondering where to find them, well, I'm ready for you: We've been collecting, naming and featuring women speakers on The Eloquent Woman blog for many years.  And I don't have any special tools, except for Google and a desire to find women speakers as good, even great, examples for others. Here's a guide to the resources I've assembled so far, and I welcome your additions in the comments:
  • 3 sources for quotes by women to use in your speeches: In finding a quotable eloquent woman, I've done some legwork to share links to books of women's quotes, historical recordings of women speaking, and an overall reference of quotes by women.
  • My collection of great speeches on audio alerts you to audio recordings in collections of great speeches that include women's speeches--and offers special discounts to readers for audio subscriptions.
  • Our top women speakers series focused on today's top women speakers, suggested by readers and friends of the blog--the collection at the link includes nearly 40 women speakers of today, and where possible, we included video, audio or links to texts.
  • This blog's recent series, "Famous Speech Fridays," included in our tag for famous speeches, focuses exclusively on women's speeches--with an extra focus on speeches by women that discuss women's issues. It's a growing series that works to bring you video, text and analysis of great speeches by women.
  • Inspiration from 40 women speakers named on the blog:  Follow the tag inspiration for women speakers and you'll find (so far) nearly 150 posts that mention 40 women speakers, from "real people" to celebrities. (Of course, many have more than one post to their credit.) Not all of these posts focus on a particular speech, but many share background, stories and experiences that I hope will prompt you to explore these speakers more--they are great examples all.
Will you start using examples and quotes from women's speeches? Add your voice to the comments.

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