As public speakers, we all have our own "voice " -- a style, a persona that is uniquely our own. Conscious focus on developing that voice serves to enhance our credibility and help us establish rapport with our audiences.
One of the roles we frequently fulfill, as public speakers, is using our unique voice to become a voice for others. The "others" may be constituents, employees or those with less power and marginalized rights.
As a tip of the hat to St. Patrick's Day, my own Irish heritage and Women's History Month, I'd like to salute Mary Robinson, Ireland's first woman president, and a great example of using one's voice to speak for those who can't.
Throughout her career, Robinson has advocated for human rights and equality, early on campaigning for Irish women's right to sit on juries, to remain in civil service jobs after marriage and to have legal access to contraception. Following her presidency, she became a United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and continued to be a powerful voice championing gender equality both in the home and in the workplace, the right of basic education and a stop to violence against women and practices such as FGM. She was the first head of state to visit Rwanda, bringing world attention to the suffering after the civil war, and in 2009, President Obama awarded her the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Watching only a short portion of either of these videos gives you a good sense of Mary Robinson's voice -- gracious, articulate, authentic, conversational and passionate.
How compelling is your voice when you're called upon to speak for others?