Monday, January 15, 2018

The Eloquent Woman's weekly speaker toolkit

I read a lot about women and public speaking, and post my finds first on The Eloquent Woman on Facebook. But I always collect them here for you on Mondays as well. Here's what I've been reading lately:
  • The gift of your voice: From Donate your voice so Siri doesn't just work for white men: "Through Project Common Voice, which launched last month, Mozilla aims to collect 10,000 hours of spoken English from people with a wide range of accents." Great project for readers of The Eloquent Woman, via my clients at Mozilla!
  • Women talk more? Really? Thanks for the data: "Gong analyzed 519,000 sales calls and discovered that the average monologue of male salespeople to female buyers was significantly longer (108 seconds) than the average monologue to a man (91 seconds). In other words, men talked for longer periods of uninterrupted time when selling to women. All told, when salesmen worked with female buyers, the men did 61% of the talking."
  • Did you miss? This week, the blog looked at 9 ideas to mix up your speaking in 2018, a guest post from Cate Huston, and Famous Speech Friday shared 23 famous speeches by women speaking in parliamentary assemblies.
  • About the quote: Give voice to your words, eloquent women! Wisdom from Maya Angelou.
Get involved in more conversations on public speaking with The Eloquent Woman. Follow our Facebook page, read great quotes from eloquent woman on Pinterest, or follow me as @dontgetcaught on Twitter. Learn how to be a better panel moderator with The Eloquent Woman's Guide to Moderating Panels.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Famous Speech Friday: Oprah Winfrey at the Golden Globes

Oprah Winfrey--talk show host, skilled interviewer, actress, producer, director, publisher and cultural phenomenon--accepted the Cecile B. DeMille award this week at the Golden Globes award ceremony. And, in a not unexpected move, she stole the show.

The speech was part lesson, part clarion call, and wholly a song--lyrical, gripping, something the crowd could join in on. I'd say kudos to the speechwriter, but suspect it was Winfrey herself, so naturally it flowed.

She started and ended the speech with little girls and the influence that can be had upon them:
In 1964, I was a little girl sitting on the linoleum floor of my mother's house in Milwaukee watching Anne Bancroft present the Oscar for best actor at the 36th Academy Awards. She opened the envelope and said five words that literally made history: "The winner is Sidney Poitier." Up to the stage came the most elegant man I had ever seen. I remember his tie was white, and of course his skin was black, and I had never seen a black man being celebrated like that. I tried many, many times to explain what a moment like that means to a little girl, a kid watching from the cheap seats as my mom came through the door bone tired from cleaning other people's houses....In 1982, Sidney received the Cecil B. DeMille award right here at the Golden Globes and it is not lost on me that at this moment, there are some little girls watching as I become the first black woman to be given this same award.
Don't get the wrong idea: Oprah spent the fewest words in this speech about herself. She talked instead about women's stories:
And I'm especially proud and inspired by all the women who have felt strong enough and empowered enough to speak up and share their personal stories. Each of us in this room are celebrated because of the stories that we tell, and this year we became the story.
But it's not just a story affecting the entertainment industry. It's one that transcends any culture, geography, race, religion, politics, or workplace. So I want tonight to express gratitude to all the women who have endured years of abuse and assault because they, like my mother, had children to feed and bills to pay and dreams to pursue. They're the women whose names we'll never know. They are domestic workers and farm workers. They are working in factories and they work in restaurants and they're in academia, engineering, medicine, and science. They're part of the world of tech and politics and business. They're our athletes in the Olympics and they're our soldiers in the military.
Even public speaking got its due: "Speaking your truth is the most powerful tool we all have. For too long, women have not been heard or believed if they dared speak their truth to the power of those men...but their time is up."

The speech was followed by a flood of tweets calling on Oprah to run for president. Of course, we need more than one great speech to choose a president, in my view, but it says a lot about the leadership the audience heard and felt in this speech. And, as this piece points out, she wrote the speech to be about the unseen people, not about her supposed candidacy. Part celebratory romp, part history lesson, she drew all the threads of the evening's protests about sexual harassment together and made them poetic. What can you learn from this famous speech?
  •  Be ready for your big moment. Do I have to say this? I do. Many the honoree approaches the mic unprepared, which disrespects the award and the audience. Instead, you can do as Oprah did, and use the platform to further a cause and inspire those you hope to enlist in it.
  • Use symmetry: Oprah began with the image of herself as a little girl, watching the ceremony, and ended with a call to action for "all the girls watching here and now." Aside from the satisfaction of hearing a speech come full circle, the tactic drew Oprah closer to her audiences--the one in the room and the one watching at home. It's something at which she is a master.
  • Use slogans deftly and without sounding trite: "Me Too" and "Time's Up" were the slogans of the night, and they are scattered sparely in her speech in ways that make it seem as if they belong right there. The impact was greater as a result.
You can read the speech here and watch it here or below:

(Photo: Hollywood Foreign Press)

Get involved in more conversations on public speaking with The Eloquent Woman. Follow our Facebook page, read great quotes from eloquent woman on Pinterest, or follow me as @dontgetcaught on Twitter. Learn how to be a better panel moderator with The Eloquent Woman's Guide to Moderating Panels.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

9 ideas to mix up your speaking in 2018

(Editor' s note: Reader and client Cate Huston-- an engineer, frequent speaker, and enthusiastic booster of getting more women in tech to speak-- offered this guest post sharing ways to switch it up when preparing talks as inspiration for you early in the new year. Thanks, Cate!)

Public speaking is scary, so it’s easy to get set in what we know works. This year, challenge yourself to mix it up! Not everything will work, but that’s okay - if we don’t try, we never know.

  1. Slides. Mix up your slide style! Try a totally different format, work with someone else to create them, or go without. 
  2. Format. Is your sweet spot 20 minutes? Challenge yourself to a 40 minute slot. Do you always rely on having a lot of time? See if you can give as good a talk in 20 minutes - or 5. Run a workshop! Co-present!  Or try something like Pecha Kucha or Ignite - the 5 minutes and auto-advance can be really tough!
  3. Role. Always the panelist, never the moderator? This could be the year. If you’ve never done it before, look for the opportunity to host or MC - it’s a very different experience.
  4. Topic. Maybe you’ve been giving “soft” talks - why not get really technical? Maybe technical talks seem safer, but why not challenge yourself to go beyond details - give a high level overview, or talk about a different interest or part of your role.
  5. Audience. Maybe you always talk at mobile, or PHP events - branch out and find a new audience at an event with a different theme! Maybe you present a lot internally - branch out and give a talk outside.
  6. Preparation style. Do you have a series of rituals when it comes to preparing a talk? A process involving sticky notes and weeks of preparation? Challenge yourself with a compressed timeframe or different approach (blog posts?) If finishing slides on the plane is part of your MO, challenge yourself to slide-freeze a week in advance. Things like a practise run at your company or a local meetup can force you out of the last minute preparation trap.
  7. Medium. Be a guest on a podcast (great way to extemporaneous speaking!), or record something straight to video (my video tip is this: practise without recording until you’re comfortable, then record when you’re ready. This has taken me from 20+ takes to 2). Speaking doesn’t just mean from stage.
  8. Constraints. You don’t have to agree to everything - decide what’s important to you and prioritize that - embrace constraints. Or, evaluate your internal constraints, if your gremlin is saying things like “I’m not ready to give an international talk”, you don’t have to listen to it!
  9. Social media. Schedule live tweets during your talk, or tweet teaser snippets of your prep. Turn your talk into a blog post, or use blog posts to build it up. There’s so many ways to blend your IRL talk with your digital presence.

(Creative Commons licensed photo by Patti)

Get involved in more conversations on public speaking with The Eloquent Woman. Follow our Facebook page, read great quotes from eloquent woman on Pinterest, or follow me as @dontgetcaught on Twitter. Learn how to be a better panel moderator with The Eloquent Woman's Guide to Moderating Panels.

Monday, January 8, 2018

The Eloquent Woman's weekly speaker toolkit

I read a lot about women and public speaking, and post my finds first on The Eloquent Woman on Facebook. But I always collect them h ere for you on Mondays as well. Here's what I've been reading lately:
Get involved in more conversations on public speaking with The Eloquent Woman. Follow our Facebook page, read great quotes from eloquent woman on Pinterest, or follow me as @dontgetcaught on Twitter. Learn how to be a better panel moderator with The Eloquent Woman's Guide to Moderating Panels.

Friday, January 5, 2018

Famous Speech Friday: Dolores Ibárruri's 1939 speech ‘¡No Pasarán!’

(Editor's note: I found this famous speech covered at length on the blog of Imogen Morley, who writes about diplomatic relations and diplomacy, communications in the digital age, and speechwriting, and this post about a short but powerful radio address in Spain in the late 1930s combines a bit of all three subjects. It echoes the power of another of our Famous Speech Friday posts about Evita Peron's 1951 Renunciamiento, another great example of using radio for rhetorical success. And while this post differs from our usual FSF format, it's a fascinating take on a speech that caused a sensation. It's reprinted here with Morley's permission.
Morley published the post back in August 2017 with this introduction: "Something a bit different for this post. Last week in Charlottesville, Virginia, Heather Heyer died peacefully protesting against the kind of hateful and violent nationalism that should have long ago been consigned to history. Although this speech is from a very different time and context, I thought that highlighting the powerful words of another woman from another generation would be some small tribute to those who still stand up for democracy, freedom and human dignity. In recent days, ‘No Pasarán’ has been appearing on Twitter in response to the Barcelona terrorist attack. As this speech is very short – a battle cry, really – the analysis is also quite short. But it’s a fascinating speech from a fascinating woman who deserves to be more well known." Enjoy this guest Famous Speech Friday!)
La Pasionaria
Dolores Ibárruri was a Spanish communist politician and republican heroine of the Spanish Civil War. She was a force of nature: she had a fierce intellect and was considered a brilliant speaker. Her struggle against both the misogyny and poverty she grew up in, her willingness to speak up for the rights of women and workers, and her fearless protests against Franco and fascism, make her a heroine for all women wanting to find their own voice in the world.
Ibárruri was born in 1895 into family of miners in the Basque region of Spain, the eighth of eleven children. Despite showing a strong desire to learn – she later said she read anything she could lay her hands on – she left school at fifteen and worked as a seamstress, and later as a maid. At the age of twenty, she married Julián Ruiz, a miner and communist. In 1917, she became a member of Spanish Social Workers’ Party, and in 1921 a member of the Communist Party. Using the pseudonym La Pasionaria, she began writing articles for a miners’ newspaper and became active in the workers’ movement. She later separated from her husband and moved to Madrid. In 1930, she was voted onto the Central Committee of the Spanish Communist Party and was responsible for the party’s Women’s’ Commission. In the early 1930s, she became renowned for her brilliant and rousing speeches. As a member of the Cortes Generales (‘General Courts’ – the Spanish Parliament), she fought for women’s rights, especially in the areas of work and health.
The Speech
This speech was broadcast on Radio Madrid on 19th July 1939, as part of wider efforts to rally the citizens of Madrid against Franco’s nationalists, who were preparing to launch a military offensive on the city. The Communist Party knew that Ibárruri was a popular and persuasive figure. Her fiery and naturalistic style of delivery was perfectly suited to the moment. The battle cry, ‘¡No Pasarán!’ (‘They shall not pass’) quickly became a slogan for all those fighting against Franco’s fascist troops and is still used by activists in other contexts today. Ibárruri used it as the title for her autobiography, published in 1966. Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, a member of Pussy Riot, even wore the slogan on a t-shirt during her trial in Russia.
At first, the speech gained little attention in the foreign press, despite being very popular in Spain itself. Slowly, however, foreign journalists started taking notice of Ibárruri and her speeches. In August 1936, the French writer Élie Faure, in an article for Regards magazine, describes watching Ibárruri giving a speech, saying he’d ‘never seen or heard anything like it’. Though she came from a family of miners, she was ‘aristocratic through and through’.
A Battle Cry to an Invisible Audience
It goes without saying that giving a speech on the radio is completely different to giving a speech in front of an audience. The audience will probably be larger, but they will either be alone or in small groups. And the point of this speech was to rally all the citizens of Madrid, not just left-wing fighters. How to find a battle cry for such an (invisible) audience? Ibárruri fosters a sense of kinship amongst her audience in three ways. Firstly, she binds all the differing political and social groups together, as Spanish citizens ‘loyal to the Republic’. For Spain’s future, they must all struggle together. Their identity as Spaniards, as ‘workers and farmers’, indeed ‘the people’, is more important than their individual identities. She urges them all to ‘stay true to the republican state and fight side by side with the workers, with the forces of the Popular Front, with your parents, your siblings and comrades’, here linking the kinship of a family with the kinship of a nation.’ Secondly, she turns the focus of the struggle onto those they are fighting against. They are ‘enemies of the republic’ and therefore enemies of all Spaniards. This creates a sense of kinship by setting all those ‘loyal’ to Spain, regardless of background, against those who wish to destroy it. And thirdly, she creates a sense of kinship amongst her audience by making them Spain itself. ‘All of Spain presents itself for battle’ she says. Unless the citizens act together, there will be no Spain, because Spain is its citizens.
The Historical Moment
Ibárruri also places her speech and Spain’s struggle in the historical moment. ‘The people,’ she says, ‘understand the graveness of this moment’. The very future of Spain demands that citizens fight the nationalist forces. Notice that she does not urge people to understand the importance of the moment. They already understand how critical this struggle is: the ‘workers and farmers from all Spanish provinces are joining in the struggle’Her speech contributes to a wider momentum. She refers twice to the violence in Asturias in 1934, when left-wing miners were attacked by troops from the local ruling right-wing party. First, she urges the women of Spain to ‘recall the heroism of the women of Asturias of 1934 and struggle alongside the men to defend the lives and freedom of your sons, overshadowed by the fascist menace’. Secondly, the nationalists are ‘the hangmen of October’. She persuades her audience that their actions are necessary by reminding them of the violence of their enemy. They are ‘the fascist foe, who drag through the mud the very same honourable military tradition that they have boasted to possess so many times’. They are not worthy of a place in Spain’s future. This local reference not only places this struggle in its political context, but also highlights Ibárruri’s own mining background. By making her speech and its message part of Spain’s historical narrative, she makes it part of history: a moment when which the Spanish people must stand up and play their part.
¡No Pasarán!
Screen Shot 2017-08-20 at 09.21.18
Contemporary Spanish right-wing poster (from ‘Große Reden – No Pasarán’ documentary)
This battle cry was originally used at the Battle of Verdun (1916) by the French military. So, by using these specific words, Ibárruri is (perhaps unintentionally) placing the struggle against Franco’s nationalists in the wider European historical and geographical narrative. But there’s another and more important reason Ibárruri used this phrase. It had recently appeared on right-wing posters in Spain. By using the phrase, Ibárruri turns her enemies’ own words against them.
Ibárruri uses the phrase three times in this short speech.
Under the battle cry ‘Fascism shall not pass; the hangmen of October shall not pass!’ workers and farmers from all Spanish provinces are joining in the struggle against the enemies of the Republic that have arisen in arms.
Ibárruri leaves her audience in no doubt what they ‘shall not pass’ means: it is a ‘battle cry’ for the violent ‘struggle’ against both the nationalist forces and the very idea of fascism itself. Note how she refers to ‘workers and farmers’, specific groups of people, rather than just an abstract image of Spanish citizens. She calls on her audience to participate actively in the struggle, not to simply support those who are fighting.
The whole country cringes in indignation at these heartless barbarians that would hurl our democratic Spain back down into an abyss of terror and death. However, THEY SHALL NOT PASS! For all of Spain presents itself for battle. 
Now ‘the whole country’, ‘all of Spain’ will not let the ‘heartless barbarians’ pass. Here Ibárruri reiterates the historical importance of this moment – the fascists who would ‘hurl our democratic Spain back down into an abyss of terror and death’. Note how she says ‘our Spain’. The nationalists are ‘barbarians’, not worthy of being called Spanish. As barbarians, they are enemies of civilization itself. And after creating an image of Spain made up of her citizens, the violent language of hurling the country ‘back down into an abyss’, the very earth – ‘mud’ – itself, serves to embody the threat, both to the lives of Spanish citizens and to Spain itself.
Long live the Popular Front! Long live the union of all anti-fascists! Long live the Republic of the people! The Fascists shall not pass! THEY SHALL NOT PASS!
She ends with a rhetorical three-part list, each time increasing the size of the group, building up from small specific group ‘the Popular Front’, to ‘all anti-fascists’, to the ‘Republic of the people’. This ending mirrors the beginning of her speech and its call for all Spaniards to unite in the struggle. The Spanish people will stand shoulder to shoulder and the fascists ‘shall not pass’.
Despite the mobilisation of Madrid’s citizens, Franco’s nationalists besieged the city in October 1936, whicheventually fell on 28th March 1939. Francoist propaganda made fun of Ibárruri’s famous battle cry, writing songs about how ‘No Pasarán’ was no longer true. But these songs have not survived the test of history. What have survived are Ibárruri’s words: a battle cry for freedom, for democracy and for the defeat of fascism.
Ibárruri left Spain in 1939, eventually gaining asylum in the USSR. She remained active in left-wing politics, working for the Spanish Communist Party in exile and writing article and books. She returned to Spain in 1977 at the age of 80 and became active in Spanish politics until her death in 1989.
She was, at times, a divisive figure. She was a lifelong committed Stalinist and often critical of other left-wing organisations. But today she is almost exclusively remembered as a symbol for the resistance to Franco’s fascism. She was, unmistakably, a remarkable woman who endured great personal loss. Four of her six children died young, apparently due to the family’s extreme poverty; her surviving son died during the Second World War. She fought for women’s rights in both the home and at work. She was a fearless and heartfelt public speaker, as well as a fiercely intelligent politician, at a time when women were almost universally barred from politics. She fought for freedom and democracy, for the rights of all citizens and for a better life. If she were alive today, she would surely be standing shoulder to shoulder with those still fighting (and dying) for human freedom and dignity.
The full text of the speech in Spanish is available here. The English translation I have used is available here. A German translation is available here.
(Dolores Ibárruri in 1936 – photo by Mikhail Koltsov via WikiCommons)
Get involved in more conversations on public speaking with The Eloquent Woman. Follow our Facebook page, read great quotes from eloquent woman on Pinterest, or follow me as @dontgetcaught on Twitter. Learn how to be a better panel moderator with The Eloquent Woman's Guide to Moderating Panels.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

What's the outlook for women and public speaking in 2018?

The world seems all chaos at times, these days, and we're hearing more all the time about manels and manterruptions, women being systematically denied turns to speak in conferences or Congress, harassment of women speakers, and stultifying speaking conditions that would drive any woman to decline an invitation to speak. Some days, the view for women and public speaking can seem pretty bleak.

But in fact, all those things are signals that change is afoot. Backlash can be seen as a sign that your speaking is actually effective, and hitting its mark. Throughout history, over and over again, we've seen periods when women were largely forbidden to speak in public--most of history, in long stretches--interrupted when war and economic chaos shook things up and prompted change in women's ability and opportunity to break those norms and come out speaking in public. There's a good discussion of that phenomenon here in The only thing, historically, that's curbed inequality: Catastrophe, to get you started thinking about it.

I believe we are in such a time, and catastrophic times do benefit women speakers, opening up new opportunities and reasons for them to lift their voices in protest, in leadership, and more. And these types of events are in fact cyclical. It is not a mistake, historians tell me, that this is happening 100 years, roughly, after the British and American suffragists sought and won votes for some women, an effort that not only opened up opportunities for women's public speech, but depended on it as a strategic tactic. Not a mistake.

Today, that translates into more frequent, more public, and easier conversations around issues women face in public speaking, a pre-condition for being able to speak more readily and to address issues and bring them forward. But it also means more chances to speak, more reasons to speak, more opportunities to speak.

So the question in 2018 for women who speak in public is: How will you use this moment? The fulcrum of history, the pivot point, is here. That's not to say that all the barriers are removed, but the conditions are ripe to make some progress. Here are some ideas for how you can make the most of this historic moment while advancing yourself as a speaker:
  1. What should you be speaking up about right now? It doesn't have to be at a protest rally, it could just be in a workplace meeting. Conditions are good for you not only to try more speaking up, but to be able to point out things like manterruptions or others taking credit for your work--because part of the foment is that we are discussing such phenomena more and more, making it okay to say. So now you have the luxury of asking yourself: What should I be saying now that will make a difference?
  2. How can you use this moment to build more speaking opportunities? When catastrophe cracks society open, opportunity is created. Ask whether you can keynote this time, or get off the panel and speak as an individual. Try that TEDx talk. Find or create more chances for yourself to speak while the opportunities are expanding. Seize this speaking day. Start a women's speaking forum at your workplace, or in your community. Try new-to-you speaking styles and venues. Put yourself out there.
  3. Build skills and reputation: Strike while the iron is hot, as they used to say, and use this moment to develop speaking skills you don't have now. Seek speaking opportunities so you can build a reputation as a good speaker--that will last long after the foment. Be sure to document your speaking: Create a speaker page that lists your engagements, publish video or audio of your talks, publish the text of your talks and your slides, share any social buzz, stay in contact with conference organizers and make it easier for then to find and choose you.
I wish you a 2018 full of speaking up about what's meaningful to you, and thank you for coming here for your ideas, info, and inspiration as you do so. Happy new year!

(Creative Commons licensed photo by TEDxNY)

Get involved in more conversations on public speaking with The Eloquent Woman. Follow our Facebook page, read great quotes from eloquent woman on Pinterest, or follow me as @dontgetcaught on Twitter. Learn how to be a better panel moderator with The Eloquent Woman's Guide to Moderating Panels.