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A personal tribute to Denise Graveline

I have always been frustrated that there’s so little published about women’s rhetoric and speeches. Then a few years ago I discovered Denise Graveline, who had created a blog, The Eloquent Woman, devoted to celebrating women’s public speaking. I was a young speechwriter who loved writing for women, and it was such an inspiration to discover someone celebrating women speakers so publicly and so passionately.

Sometime after discovering the Eloquent Woman I had a trip planned to DC for a speechwriting conference. I plucked up the courage to contact Denise and ask her if she’d meet with me. To my great delight she agreed to have lunch together. She was so generous with her time, knowledge, and encouragement, sharing what she’d learned about business, public speaking, and rhetoric. I came away even more inspired: it’s not often that you meet your heroes, and it’s even rarer that they exceed your expectations.

I was so sad to learn yesterday that Denise had passed away. Lunch in DC was the one and only time I met her, but we continued to keep in touch by email, and her writing and kind words will inspire me for the rest of my career. Like most speechwriters and speaker trainers, Denise was always behind the curtain, cheering on those she coached. And when she did write under own name, it was to celebrate the words of other women. But the short hours we spent together had a huge influence on me, so I want to celebrate her voice, and pay tribute to the real Eloquent Woman.   

Rest in peace, Denise.