Speechwriting 101 with Fatima Payman

Our first Senator for the Class of ’22 and it’s Fatima Payman from Western Australia. The daughter of an Afghan refugee, Fatima is the first Australian Muslim woman to be elected to the federal parliament and the first to wear a hijab. 

What a big moment this is for this country.

That’s precisely what much of Fatima’s speech is about. Before we get to her snippet, she talks about how unlikely it would have been even 10 years ago – let alone 100 years ago – to see a Muslim woman wearing a hijab elected to the senate.

And that’s where Fatima goes on to use inspiration as part of her speech. She is standing proudly, representing her community to inspire others – particularly young women and girls – who may be wrestling with their decision about wearing cultural dress.

Now your inspiration is not always your why. As we saw in Elizabeth Watson-Brown’s speech, her why was her grandkids; they made her want to run and do something about the environment. Whereas in this speech, Fatima is standing proudly as a Muslim woman wearing a hijab and hoping to inspire others as a leader. Similar but not the same. 

To use inspiration in your own speeches:

  • If you have someone you want to inspire or encourage, call them out. Talk about who they are and why their challenges speak to you. In this case, Fatima has lived experience of being a Muslim woman in this country and can empathise with others. She’s been in the shoes of those young women and girls so she can offer herself as inspiration to them.
  • Compare your inspiration to something similar that is already accepted. In this speech, it’s comparing wearing hijabs to boardies and flip flops. Both are, at their most basic level, about how we choose to adorn our bodies. Find the underlying why of your issue to make this work.
  • Acknowledge progress but also shine a light on progress yet to be made. This doesn’t have to be a major issue, it can be something small that’s important to you. 

Give it a try for yourself and let me know how you go.

If you need more help, download my free guide to writing ovation-worthy speeches here.

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