Maggie Thatcher and a blind spot in free speech

Posted: April 8th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Leadership and public voice, Trust | Tags: , , , , , | 4 Comments »


Former Prime Minister Margaret “Maggie” Thatcher died earlier today. For hours around the world commentary about her influence has flared with passion. Her death and tenure invite hefty critique about her economic policies, Britain’s coal industry, and the escalated unemployment the UK saw during her leadership. I valued the insight from Jim Edwards on these points, and how he reflects on his opposition to Thatcher with eloquence; …with other reactions about her death ranking far lower on the eloquence scale and closer to the immoral grade.

Gurgling of commentary
It’s easy today to return back to my high school years, a time when my parents and I observed Thatcher’s boldness with pride from our American south western town. I want to indulge those memories and stay swallowed up by them. But the present commentary about the prime minister gurgles more loudly than the cherished recesses of my mind.

Voice and a lack of empathy
Which brings this reality to the forefront: public leaders of all stripes deserve public attention and scrutiny. That keeps, hopefully, accountability on the radar, and the balance of power in check. Whether living or dead, I see the merit of discourse surrounding the Iron Lady or any other public leader. This minute though, I’m struck and humbled by my voice’s own blind spot (…a spot that may metaphorically live in anyone not leading in a hyper scrutinized arena like Maggie Thatcher). Even though to form and voice opinion is a right to anyone, I am finding today just how much my assertion of this right lacks empathy.

Has your leadership been tested in such a way?
As in, I sit here in luxurious distance from asserting any degree of leadership which broaches the in-the-fire leadership environment of our world leaders. Expressing positive and negative criticism toward public leadership empowers me as a citizen with little consequence. It’s the down side of free speech I suppose. I (anyone outside of in-the-fire leadership) can indulge to voice prevalent or vile commentary because it is simply possible (and because my mind can’t possibly imagine what type of leader I would be in that heated forum day to day in which Mrs. Thatcher served.

That’s an uneasy dichotomy with public voice and citizenry:
…to acknowledge the merit of voicing critique of public leaders, all while having zero capacity to understand what the test of leadership is really like for those leaders.

While taking all this in throughout the day, I will endeavor to grapple with (and slightly modify) that religious saying: “There by the grace of God go I and us all, plagued by the scrutiny of our decisions.”

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Remembering rhetoric in DC, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and International Women’s Day

Posted: March 7th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Leadership and public voice, Rhetoric Relived & speech history video, Speaker reviews, Speechwriting, Videoblogging | Tags: , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Washington, DC offers rich archives about oratory, rhetoric, and the power of ideas.

It’s all gone down here: presidential inauguration addresses, worldwide movements (& the voices who marched them forward), and states of the union that comprise our nation’s history. I love this city so.

When near the US Capitol today:
I was a few hundred meters from where Elizabeth Cady Stanton first delivered her Solitude of Self speech to Congress back in 1892.

With it being Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day on March 8th, it was exciting to reflect on Stanton’s bold remarks so close to where they first went public.

Her persuasive ideas and what stood out:
There’s ample room to analyze this speech (her ultimate appeal for women’s suffrage to the Senate hearing committee). What keeps coming to mind is her focus on ‘individuality of the human soul’ and a pointed focus on the nature of self-dependence.

A favorite excerpt:

“The strongest reason why we ask for woman a voice in the government under which she lives; in the religion she is asked to believe; equality in social life, where she is the chief factor; a place in the trades and professions, where she may earn her bread — is because of her birthright to self-sovereignty. Because as an individual she must rely on herself. To throw obstacles in the way of a complete education is like putting out the eyes; to deny the rights of property is like cutting off the hands. To refuse political equality is to rob “the ostracized of all self-respect…”

What voices have influenced your thinking about access to opportunity and self-reliance?

Happy Women’s History Month!

And here’s to self-dependence, self-assertion, and celebration of progress.

More resources and ways to celebrate International Women’s Day:

Workshop recap: helping women find their voices as public speakers at Blogworld Expo LA

Posted: November 6th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Leadership and public voice, Practice | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments »

Speaking at Blogworld LA: empowering women to find their voice as public speakers

Posted: November 2nd, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Leadership and public voice, Practice, Videoblogging | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

How are YOU?!

As for this part of the world, I can’t wait for later this week on Nov. 4th in LA because….

We’re BACK!

Blogworld’s “Speak Up!” public speaking workshop returns to take BWELA by storm.
And I’m co-presenting it with the ever strong, supportive speaker and Media Egg founder Aliza Sherman.

Our workshop’s hashtag? #BWEvoice.

Are you attending Blogworld this year? If so, by golly join us!

It will be a highly fun, highly interactive session and inspire results for any woman wanting to take the stage.

And wait – there’s more!

Think fun, prizes, and learning to:

  • Identify your strengths as a public speaker and how to articulate your expertise;
  • Learn how to craft a strong speaker proposal;
  • Strengthen your public speaking skills in a fun, supportive, and feedback-rich environment.

Then the second half combines the chance for attendees to practice their pitch in a fun American Idol-esque environment. For this part of the workshop, we’ll invite participants to pitch to the audience for a few minutes — then receive motivating feedback and ideas to take your proposal to its next level of success.

Going to BlogworldLA?
Then I (Aliza too) welcome you big time to this workshop.

And whether or not you’re going to Blogworld…
Have a great week….and in the spirit of our workshop, ‘speak up’ and exercise your voice for the greater good wherever you may be.

3 ways to prepare an Ignite talk with help from fuzzy bunnies, word counts, & passion

Posted: November 1st, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: 5-minute storytelling & Ignite venues, Exercises for speakers, Leadership and public voice, Practice, Speechwriting | Tags: , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

*slide cast with audio for my recent Ignite talk High Stakes Speech.

What a great experience!
A long time goal has been to speak at Ignite, specifically the unique community for IgniteDC. This short-form style is a blast; the DC crowd is supportive and energetic. And I’ve enjoyed coaching clients on this format with my business sponsoring local events.

Ignite is flat out fun.

Have you ever participated in an Ignite event?
Ignite’s mantra is: “Enlighten us but make it quick.”

It’s a vibrant public speaking event with many venues across the globe. Sixteen speakers get to present at each — all giving a talk within the same format: 5 minutes about any topic using 20 slides. And the kicker: each slide automatically advances after 15 seconds.

So a few weeks ago, it was a wonderful thrill to speak at IgniteDC #8 with some great speakers.

3 tips to prepare: passion meets mathematics.

Do you have favorite tips for preparing short-form presentation like Ignite?

Here’s an approach I often rely on:

TIP #1: focus on your spoken content first and the slides last.

Why? to avoid ‘conjunction-caption speak.’

Focusing on the spoken content first helps to establish a cohesive structure and arc for the talk.

What is your core message or messages?

How does one idea transition and support the next?

Where does the audience end up?

It addresses all those questions.

And it avoids an unintended problem many Ignite speakers have described when they focused on making their slides first: they ended up giving an Ignite talk that is a set of conjunction-caption-like phrases that come across as run-on sentences (vs a cohesive storytelling experience for their audience).

Fuzzy bunnies: an example of the unintended conjunction-caption-sounding result when speakers focus on preparing slides first (vs focusing on a story-centric whole):

“Fuzzy bunnies are happy and cute, see aren’t they cute? and fluffy and they bounce and then they eat a lot and I wish they could fly and drive space ships and they make great cartoons too.”

Have you heard a presentation that sounded this way?

Fuzzy bunnies with context:
Or here’s an example of focusing on the spoken content first and giving the audience a specific point of view (and then crafting slides after the fact to support your spoken content):

“Fuzzy bunnies are a great greeting card icon for 3 main reasons: they evoke sweetness; they’re fun; and they are innocently playful too which makes them ideal images to help celebrate children’s events.”

I’m having some goofy fun here with the bunnies, but the point:

Focusing on your spoken-word content first creates a clearer way for your audience to relate to your ideas.

TIP #2: Knowing the word count for a 5 minute talk.

I focused on a draft that was app. 640 words in length for a five minute talk.
After timing it, I divided app. 31 words to each slide and crafted the slide deck based on that.

Factoring in a reasonable speaking rate and pauses to give the audience a few seconds to absorb along the way — a 640 word draft worked.

Certainly speaking rates vary for all of us!

You may comfortably articulate at a swifter rate and speak closer to a 150 word per minute rate. But after testing and timing some of my past speeches, this is a comfortable rate on my end – with time for pauses factored in.

It served as a really useful framework for the spoken-word draft.

Speech history really fascinates me so I chose (3) speeches to share about and then wrote, edited!, and re-wrote.

Ignite invites a wide range of passions — philosophy, tech, education and how-to, and personal experience.

What’s topic drives you the most?

TIP #3: Rehearsing each section with a recorded audio device.

This really helped to understand and maintain timing along the way (and ensure the right messages and images were on the screen as desired). For rehearsals, I timed without slides first — via audio a few times to ensure the 5 minutes (or 4:55 for a buffer window). Then after making the slides, I timed a few sections via audio again to see if a particular section was overly delayed and needed editing.

What do you think? Is it time to dive into your next Ignite talk?! What other tips do you have for prep?


Speaking tip from a Blogworld blogger aka Nathalie, the Raw Foods Witch

Posted: May 26th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Leadership and public voice, Practice, Video interviews, Videoblogging | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments »


Her prized, numero uno, #1 favorite speaking tip is…:

It’s been a tremendous week here at Blogworld Expo East. And this morning’s workshop was fantastically interactive, co-presented with @AlizaSherman about empowering women as public speakers. The attendees for our Speak Up workshop were so motivating; and people showed determination and progress on their speech topic ideas throughout the session. It’s been a great day.

Words from a witch
In the spirit of finding and asserting our voice as speakers, Nathalie Lussier talked shop about her favorite speaking tip. She presents often and really enjoys the dynamic.

It was energizing to talk with her from Blogworld’s expo floor
– and she blogs regularly at The Raw Foods Witch on lots of healthy stuff.

Nathalie’s #1 tip revealed in this fun, speedy talk:

Presenting at Blogworld Expo East: empower women to find their voices

Posted: May 23rd, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Leadership and public voice | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment »


How are you? Hope all is well.

Here’s an audio snapshot just below about presenting at Blogworld (or a written summary follows soon after on Blogworld reflections and questions about speaking in public):


‘A’ Game as public speakers (and you?)
There’s a big adrenaline rush on this end of the webz to head out to NYC for the Blogworld East New Media Expo. I’m thrilled to co-facilitate a workshop this year about empowering women to bring their ‘A’ game as public speakers with the motivating and motivated Aliza Sherman.

We’ll approach the session from a few angles:

  • how to develop speaker proposals and submit on a regular basis to conference selection committees (plus some coping mechanisms for those icky rejection notices);
  • how to enact a practice plan to strengthen as a speaker (and specifically practice your key message and assert public conversations long before it’s time to officially engage an audience from the stage).

At Blogworld Expo East this week? Here’s an invitation for you!

Have a super time at Blogworld and know you have a hearty invitation to join us Thur, May 26th at 9am for our session officially called: Speak Up – empowering women to find their voice. Our session’s specific hashtag is: #BWEvoice

Your favorite tips and strengths as a speaker: would you share?

What favorite tips do you practice in preparing for a speech — when organizing content or delivery or any aspect of stage preparation?

And what are your favorite attributes as a presenter? As in, do you love the sound of your voice or vocal range? Do you get an addictive kick out of storytelling and make an audience feel at ease? Are you a maestro at creating media decks or stimulating a sense of momentum in your narrative?

Image Your Are Your Voice by Jem Yoshioka, Creative Commons

Hot Mommas Project winner Ann Bevans talks business & Darth Vader

Posted: May 18th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Leadership and public voice, Video interviews, Videoblogging, Women entrepreneurs | Tags: , , , , , , | No Comments »

DISCLAIMER to readers: Darth Vader was not harmed in this recording.

She just gave a great speech on the benefits and stress from having so many available choices.

She has resolve, success, and a great depth of reflection.

She’s got one heck of a sense of humor, is a Women Grow Business blogger — and she’s a clear winner too.

This ‘she’ is Ann Bevans, a business owner and prize winner of this year’s case study competition for the Hot Mommas Project.

The Hot Mommas Project is an online mentorship library for women and girls, comprised of case studies accessible for free. People from across the globe submit case studies reflecting their life experience about entrepreneurship and different professional industries.

What challenges did they face?

What decisions or fears or obstacles helped to crystalize their success?

These questions are often framed and answered in the most personal and triumphant ways in these case studies.

Ann’s case study won top honors this year, revealing her sense of purpose for her business and resolve to look at specific choices.

In this video talk: Darth Vader talks shop.
And Ann shares more on what compelled her to write her case study. Her potent acceptance speech was a hot topic too, looking at the trials of choice in & beyond business — all this from the Hot Momma’s Awards Ceremony earlier this week.

Congratulations to Ann (and also Liz Scherer, a Women Grow Biz blogger who received Hot Mommas honors this year and was unable to attend the ceremony).

This was first published as a guest post to entrepreneurship community Women Grow Business.

The Gettysburg Address and a DC jaunt

Posted: March 2nd, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Leadership and public voice, Video interviews, Videoblogging | Tags: , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Last year, I had the great chance to meet business student Diana Marin and hear her pitch a business idea to her GWU women’s entrepreneurial leadership course (led by GWU professor and Chief Hot Momma Kathy Korman Frey).

It was fantastic to visit the Lincoln Memorial with Diana recently and to discuss President Lincoln’s historical address.

How can a two minute speech make such an impact?
President Lincoln’s words from 1863 moved our broken nation toward a healthier ideal (with the fantastically resonant address being just two minutes long).

Above is a 90 second clip of our adventure – and a written transcript follows too!

<< Transcript >>

(en route to the memorial in a cab!)

I’m here with a great person.

Hello, everybody. I’m Diana Marin, I’m with Jill Foster right now and
we’re going to the Lincoln Memorial. Guys, you’re going to enjoy the speech.

(from inside the memorial)

So we’re here on the left side of the Lincoln Memorial where wonderfully
engraved is the first portion of Lincoln’s speech “Four scores and seven years ago” it’s
kind of giving me goose bumps.

Jill to Diana:
You said some fantastic things earlier about what
really stood out to you about the speech. Do you want to share briefly on that?

Sure. Oh the speech was great, so I want to say mostly for me
[the best part was] when he said “Conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that
all men are created equal.”
So for me he defined war as an effort dedicated to all these
principles of liberty and equality for America. This is the country of freedom and just
like that he’s considering all the places around the world [that aren’t free]. And
he wanted to continue for us to believe that we still have freedom and that we are equal,
it doesn’t matter if we are girls or boys or black or white or brown or yellow, it doesn’t matter,
so for me that was great.

Thank you so much for saying that.

You’re welcome.

You and yours: celebrate TEDWomen with TEDxPrincetonLibrary

Posted: November 29th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Leadership and public voice, TEDx and TED | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments »


TEDx communities across the globe will convene independent programs in honor of TED’s first TEDWomen Conference (which will be held next week in Washington, DC); the speaker slate is dynamo to say the least.

Do you plan to attend DC’s event or a live streamed program of motivating discussions and ideas worth spreading?

A TEDx story and how the social web inspired introductions:
During this year’s WomenWhoTech Telesummit, I had the pleasure of meeting Janie Hermann on Twitter; Janie founded the TEDxPrincetonLibrary series and expressed interest in celebrating TEDWomen through a locally hosted program. She and her team then put ideas in motion!

I can’t wait to participate in a day of robust conversation at TEDxPrincetonLibrary’s event and present about the night’s timely theme: women and technology in the age of conversation.

The beautiful Princeton Library will host (where TEDWomen will be live streamed and discussed throughout December 7th and 8th).

This particular TEDx event (or @TEDxPrincetonPL on Twitter) will also include a lightning speaker round on 12/7th, showcasing tremendous business leaders Holly Landau, Katie DeVito, Hilary Morris, and Melissa Klepacki. Each will share how they cultivate socially aware brands.



…there’s more that night: the smooth, lyrical voice of Sara Donner will perform too.

Want to join us? Please do!

RSVP right here for a super meeting of the minds and enjoy the TEDWomen Conference via live stream. Participate in (and energize) discussions addressing how women and girls are reshaping the future. All this is complimentary to the public at TEDxPrincetonLibrary so please RSVP while seats last (there’s a small fee for dinner, should your appetite get inspired too).

Participating in the superhero-like TEDxPotomac this year with curator Michelle Hoffman created the most incredible memories.  I look forward to more ideas worth spreading at this TEDx next week.

If you had 18 minutes, what would be your one big idea to share?

Image Talk by HippyDream, Creative Commons