Community & Government

Preparing for Public Speaking

Hillary Rodham Clinton

Lesson time 16:31 min

Persuasion and communication are important skills to master in our personal and professional lives. Hillary breaks down how she organizes her speeches to maximize effectiveness.

Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars

Topics include: Preparing for Public Speaking • Speaking Off the Cuff: 1969 Wellesley Commencement • How to Create an Organized Speech • Case Study: 1995 U.N. Women’s Conference •


- I believe that now, on the eve of a new millennium, it is time to break the silence. It is time for us to say, here in Beijing and for the world to hear, that it is no longer acceptable to discuss women's rights as separate from human rights. [MUSIC PLAYING] In survey after survey, when people are asked what their biggest fear is, before drowning or dying in a fire or being attacked by an ax murderer comes public speaking, which is often the very first thing. And why is that? Well, people feel exposed. They feel vulnerable. They feel that people will not listen, or they'll laugh at them or that they can't hold an audience's attention, or they have nothing to say. There's a lot of reasons why people are so fearful of public speaking. The only way to get over that is by practicing. And don't expect you're going to hit a home run every time. Because you're not. Sometimes audiences are bored before you even get there. They've listened to 10 people before you. Sometimes they're eating while you're trying to talk, which is really distracting if you're at a banquet or some kind of a formal dinner. Sometimes they don't laugh at your jokes. You know, everything that can go wrong has gone wrong with me and most everybody else I've ever known who gives a lot of speeches. But you just have to persevere and keep trying. Please be seated. We are delighted to welcome you to the White House. I know that it takes resilience and courage to get in front of people and stand up for what you believe in. In this lesson, I'm going to share some of my personal experiences and approaches to speaking publicly. [MUSIC PLAYING] When I was graduating from Wellesley College in 1969, my classmates asked me if I would be willing to give a student address. Because historically, there'd only been a graduation speaker. I must say it was a daunting undertaking. Because the reason my classmates asked me to speak is they wanted me to represent their viewpoints. Remember, we had been through the Civil Rights movement, the beginning of the women's movement, the assassinations of Dr. King and Senator Robert Kennedy. The Vietnam War was raging and was incredibly controversial, especially on college campuses. PROTESTERS: (CHANTING) - I think a lot of us were feeling very helpless and really worried about what happens next-- not just what happens to me. I'm graduating from college. Okay. But what happens to our country? What is next for, you know, these values that we believe in that we thought we were trying to lift up? So when my time to speak on the program occurred, it was right after Senator Brooke, who was a very distinguished Republican. But he was also very supportive of Richard Nixon and the Nixon policies. So basically, Senator Brooke, whom I did admire, gave a status quo defense speech. And I knew it wasn't at a...

About the Instructor

With a lifetime of smashing barriers and achieving at the highest levels of public service, Hillary Rodham Clinton has learned to tap deep wells of resilience to reach her goals. Now the former U.S. senator and secretary of state is teaching the values, lessons, and practical tools that help her rise above, even sharing her never-before-heard 2016 presidential victory speech. Be inspired to own your ambition and make your mark.

Featured Masterclass Instructor

Hillary Rodham Clinton

Barrier-smashing leader Hillary Rodham Clinton teaches you how to overcome setbacks and build a life of principle and purpose.

Explore the Class
Sign Up