A Conversation with Felicity Barber

Felicity BarberOn April 26, 2018 the Silicon Valley Speechwriters Roundtable Held a conference call with Felicity Barber. Felicity is the Executive Speechwriter at the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco. She is a communications expert specializing in thought leadership, storytelling and speechwriting. Prior to joining the Fed she ran her own business, Thoughtful Speech for three years. She moved to San Francisco from London in 2014 where she was a speechwriter at the global insurer, Lloyd’s of London. She has also worked as a Policy Advisor to the Home Office in London and as a Parliamentary Assistant to the Labour Party member for Islington South and Finsbury, Emily Thornberry MP.

The call covered a wide range of topics including:

  • The focus of the book Felicity wrote that was presented to the Queen (and Her Majesty read).
  • The origin of the term ‘underwriter’ (as in the Insurance industry, not someone who is a junior speechwriter…)
  • How Felicity broke into the speechwriting business in London.
  • A comparison between the work of a speechwriter in the UK and USA.
  • Her observation that the publishers of anthologies of famous speeches rarely include those given by woman.
  • The impact of the young women such as Emma Gonzales who survived the shooting at their school and spoke out against American gun culture.
  • The advantage enjoyed by the younger generation of speakers who are social media natives.
  • Notable speeches by women such as those by Oprah Winfrey, actress Anne Hathaway and the secret speech of MzBhaver Raver.
  • The UN Women Instagram account as source of inspirational women speakers.
  • An appreciation of the work of Denise Graveline promoting women speakers.
  • The challenges faced by women who work in the “Brotopia” culture of Silicon Valley tech companies and the urgent need for that industry to recruit diverse talent.
  • The value of women mentoring women, for example by Women who Code and Anitab.org
  • The challenges faced by women in politics and lessons speechwriters can learn from the Hillary Clinton campaign and the views of communications director Jennifer Palmieri.
  • The value of building a long-term relationship between a speechwr1ter and speaker.
  • The rise and fall of women in tech (as a percentage of programmers).
  • The pervasive influence of Silicon Valley on our economy, culture and politics as revealed by Norm Cohen in The Know-It-Alls.
  • How to address the imbalance in the ratio between male and female speakers? What influence can speechwr1ters have?
  • The prominence of women in the National Speakers Association including Past-President Patricia Fripp.

To hear these and other topics discussed click on the podcast icon below.

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