The Most Powerful Words Used in Women’s Speeches
Uncovering Which Power Words are Used the Most
From addressing the nation to giving an acceptance speech, we continue to see high-profile women around the world use their voices to inspire, to do good and spread messages of hope. To celebrate strong women around the world and to leave you feeling encouraged, confident and empowered, we looked to uncover which are the most powerful words used in famous women’s speeches.
We analysed Google search data to uncover the most searched for women across eight different categories, before analysing their most iconic speeches to find out which “power words” are used the most. From Jennifer Anniston and Oprah Winfrey to Adele and Meghan Markle, whose words are the most powerful of all?
The Top 10 Power Words Used Across All Speeches
Unsurprisingly, the most common word to feature across each of the categories is ‘women’, which was used 14 times across the 40 speeches studied, whilst the second most popular word was ‘people.’ Also featured in the top 10 are positive and inspiring words like ‘support,’ ‘hope,’ ‘love’ and ‘good’ – words that evoke powerful emotions to those listening.
The Top 10 Power Words in Business
The power words used by inspirational women differ by industry, and when it comes to the female business moguls of the world, their words are as empowering as the women themselves. We looked at the speeches of businesswomen both in the UK and further abroad, including Karren Brady, Arianna Huffington, and Deborah Meaden. While these women are all powerhouses in their industry, the topics of their speeches differed from a keynote address to entrepreneurs, through to a TED X talk on how to get more sleep. The most common words used within this category were ‘life’, ‘gratitude’ and ‘moments’, indicating a real sense of appreciation and pride from these powerful women.
Here are the top words from the top 5 businesswomen studied:
The Most Used Words by Beauty & Fashion Females
When looking at the top fashion and beauty moguls, ‘people’ and ‘hard work’ are two of the most common words, notably used by both Giselle Bündchen in her address at the UNEP Champions of the Earth award ceremony in 2013, and Pat McGrath accepting the Founder’s Award at the 2017 CFDA Fashion Awards. The other common words used by the top women in the fashion and beauty industries are ‘thank’, ‘career’, and ‘wanted’, again indicating that these women are immensely grateful for the successes they have all achieved in their careers.
Interestingly, Anna Wintour was the only woman in this category to use the word ‘creative’ – a word you’d expect to see come up more often in what is undoubtedly one of the more creative industries. Similarly, fashion designer Tory Burch was the only one to use the word ‘fashion’ – as the only designer in the crowd, we aren’t surprised to hear this from her!
Politician’s Top 10 Power Words
The most used words by politicians such as Angela Merkel, Michelle Obama and Kamala Harris include ‘optimism’ and ‘hope,’ words that are often used to help persuade a listening audience. These powerful and inspiring female leaders have been instrumental in raising awareness and serving as role models for women around the world – especially over the last year, and through elections, a global pandemic, and ongoing climate crisis.
Michelle Obama, former first lady, was the keynote speaker on the first night of the 2020 Democratic National Convention, and in her moving speech used the words ‘time’, ‘care’ and ‘together’ the most. While we expect nothing less than an inspiring speech from Michelle, it was Jacinda Ardern – Prime Minister of New Zealand – and her 2020 election victory that used the terms ‘support’, ‘work’ and ‘recovery’ to incite a rousing applause from her party.
Famous Women in Sport
In what can be a very male-dominated industry, we often see famous women in sport challenging the status-quo with their fiercely competitive spirit and inspiring attitudes.
Phrases like ‘prepare yourself’ and ‘enjoy the moment’ were used by the most popular female athletes more than any other industry and words such as ‘want,’ ‘best’ and ‘challenging,’ show their fighting spirit and determination to succeed. This category of females were also the only women to have ‘I love you’ as their top-used phrase.
The Top 10 Power Words by Female Musicians
Besides the sporting industry, the only other category to have ‘love’ in their most used words was the music business, with this word appearing as their most popular term overall. Arianna Grande and Lady Gaga both used the word ‘thank’ in their speeches, while Queen Bey was the only one to use the phrase ‘be brilliant’ in her now-famous ‘Dear Class of 2020’ speech.
The top five words used by the most popular female musicians include ‘women’, ‘music’, ‘believe’ and ‘thank’. Another appreciative and empowered group of women raising others up through their powerful speeches.
Royal Women and Their Most Used Power Words
When it comes to the women of the Royal family, the most common words used in their speeches include, ‘family’, followed by ‘support’ and ‘feel’. Meghan Markle’s most used words include ‘positivity’ and ‘love’ alongside the inevitable ‘woman of color’, while The Queen’s most used words include ‘pride’, ‘people’ and ‘together,’ all of which evoke a sense of camaraderie and hope to unite the country.
Princess Anne and Princess Diana, as well as Kate Middleton, each used the word ‘support’ in their speeches, though Kate was the only one to reference ‘mental health’ in her address. This is unsurprising given that she has long been an advocate for raising mental health awareness through her work.
Hollywood Heroines’ & TV Stars’ Most Used Words
Not just strong women on screen, our top 10 Hollywood heroines and TV stars continue to use their voices for the greater-good – showcasing how they use their platform to talk about important topics that are close to their hearts.
The most commonly used words in TV & Film industry speeches were ‘women’, ‘an honor’ and ‘redefined’. Thanks to Viola Davis’ 2015 Emmy’s speech on diversity and opportunity, the phrase ‘to be black’ also features heavily in the top words, despite her being the only Woman of Colour in this category.
Emma Watson and Angelina Jolie also discuss diversity within their speeches, with Emma’s 2014 HeForShe address to the UN using the words ‘gender’ and ‘equality’ more times than any other, while in her keynote speech at the Hollywood Reporter’s Women in Entertainment event in 2017, Angelina uses ‘women’, ‘freedom’ and ‘rights’ the most when discussing undervalued communities around the world.
Celebrity Women & Their Most Used Words
TV star Oprah Winfrey made history with her iconic speech at the 2018 Golden Globes, a speech that will be remembered for her impassioned “time’s up” declaration, cementing ‘time’ as one of her power words. This is followed by ‘women’, ‘truth’, ‘men’ and ‘know’. Fellow TV host Ellen DeGeneres’ power words could not be more different; from her motivational speech “Be True to Yourself”, Ellen’s most-used words included ‘success’ and ‘important’.
Priyanka Chopra and Caitlyn Jenner make up the top 5 women within the celeb category, alongside Kim Kardashian. Kim’s recent White House address on prison reform was surprisingly emotive and powerful; her most used words there were ‘care,’ ‘support’ and ‘strong.’
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The list of powerful women was decided based on Google search volumes. The accompanying speeches were decided based on popularity (either YouTube views, or where they ranked in Google). Speech transcripts were analysed and scraped to identify the most common words used within each female speech. This data is accurate as of March 2021.