Malala Yousafzai’s Speech & Emma Watson’s Speech: Analysis

February 21, 2023

8 min read

Emma Watson's 2014 HeForShe Speech on Gender Equality at the UN

Did you see Malala Yousafzai’s speech when she accepted the Nobel Peace Prize? What about Emma Watson’s speech at the UN?

Sometimes a speech completely blows you away. Maybe it’s the astute perspective they bring to the table. Perhaps it’s the manner of speaking and the confidence they exude. Consider what you can learn from these inspirational speech-givers.

In this post, you’ll get a comprehensive breakdown of two iconic speeches. These are Malala Yousafzai’s Nobel Peace Prize speech and Emma Watson’s HeForShe UN speech. We’ve run both Yousafzai’s and Watson’s speech through our AI public speaking Coach Yoodli. This provides valuable insight into each speaker’s individual speaking style. To sweeten the deal, we’ve included a detailed writeup on both speeches’ delivery and content.

You’ll see the AI analysis of Malala’s speech and Emma Watson’s speech. Then, we’ll acquaint you with a free speaking resource. The tool can exponentially improve your speaking skills and help you learn from some of the best rhetoric.

Emma Watson’s UN speech

Emma Watson’s UN speech was definitely one for the books. Watch Watson’s speech here.

What was the context of Emma Watson’s speech?

Watson served as the Goodwill Ambassador for UN Women. On September 20, 2014, she gave a speech at the UN to launch the HeForShe campaign. This was a movement to urge men and boys to stand in solidarity with women in the movement for gender equality.

In her speech, Watson reaches a hand out to men to join the fight. She tells them that “gender equality is your issue, too.” She eloquently breaks down the negative stigma surrounding the word “feminism.” Watson explains how gender stereotypes can “imprison” anyone, regardless of gender. She asserts that everyone should be free to define themselves as they wish.

By and large, Watson gained positive reception. Phil Plait called the speech “stunning” in his piece for Slate, and Alyssa Bailey lauded it as “history-making” in ELLE.

Others have criticized the speech, specifically the choice of Watson as its messenger. Julia Zulver in Al Jazeera questions the UN’s decision in “Is Emma Watson the right woman for the job?” She states that Watson’s experiences belong “to a highly elite, privileged class of people.” 

Ultimately, you can determine whether Watson was the right person to deliver a speech on such sensitive subject matter.

Extracts from Emma Watson’s UN speech

Below we’ve included an abridged transcript of Watson’s speech so that you can see the parts that struck us here at Yoodli!

“The more I spoke about feminism, the more I realized that fighting for women’s rights has too often become synonymous with man-hating. If there is one thing I know for certain, it is that this has to stop. … I am from Britain, and I think it is right I am paid the same as my male counterparts. I think it is right that I should be able to make decisions about my own body. I think it is right that women be involved on my behalf in the policies and decisions that will affect my life.”

What did Yoodli have to say?

If we take Yoodli’s word for it, Watson is doing a great job with her HeforShe speech. She uses repetition and filler words such as “like” and “um” sparingly. This suggests she took great care to write and memorize her speech. (However, you might deliberately emphasize a point with repetition.) Watson made sure to use inclusive language. This is especially important because she’s inviting men to the fight for gender inequality.

In terms of delivery, Watson does well on pacing, which averages out to 124 words per minute. This is a comfortable speed for the listener, making her sound relaxed but also confident.

Our take on it 

  1. We commend Watson for her speech. It’s strong on many fronts and shines a powerful light on the current state of feminism. She discusses how men need to join this movement. Her use of “this has to stop” is bold and powerful. Here, she punctuates her statement with deliberate pauses that drive her point home. 
  2. She shares personal anecdotes that illustrate how gender inequality affects all women, just to varying extents and in different ways. She brings it back to her lived experience. Here’s one example: “At 14, I started to be sexualized by certain elements of the media.” This shows that even Watson, a celebrated actor and advocate, can experience adverse consequences of gender inequality. 
  3. Turning now to look at her delivery, we are proud to say Watson does well in this aspect as well. Her eye contact is a strength. Notice how she looks around the whole audience as she speaks. This allows her to connect with every audience member and better drive her point home.
  4. If we were to give Watson one tip, it’d be to speak sentences out in one go. (This is instead of taking small, wavering breaths in unnatural places.) She tends to pause in the middle of sentences. This makes her appear nervous. The nerves are perfectly understandable, given she’s delivering a speech with millions of eyes on her. All things considered, Emma Watson has done a fantastic job.

Malala Yousafzai’s Nobel Peace Prize speech

Malala Yousafzai’s Nobel Peace Price speech — to no one’s surprise — was eloquently delivered with a powerful message. You can watch Yousafzai’s speech here.

What was the context of Malala Yousafzai’s Nobel Peace Price speech?

Yousafazi is a celebrated Pakistani education activist. She’s the youngest Nobel Peace Prize laureate ever, as she won the award when she was 17. She delivered her acceptance speech in Oslo, Norway, on December 10, 2014. 

Yousafzai’s speech shows wisdom and bravery beyond her years. It speaks to the power of education. It also calls out global governments who stood by watching while Taliban terrorist attacks kept women from experiencing basic human rights.

Yousafzai faced two choices: “remain silent and wait to be killed” or “speak up and then be killed.” Her choice of the latter has made all the difference.

Extracts from Malala Yousafzai’s Nobel Peace Price speech

“This award is not just for me. It is for those forgotten children who want an education. It is for those frightened children who want peace. It is for those voiceless children who want change. I am here to stand up for their rights, to raise their voice . . . it is not time to pity them.”

What did Yoodli have to say?

According to Yoodli, Yousafzai has excellent word choice, completely avoiding filler words and non-inclusive language. She uses the occasional “weak word”; in her case, she mentions the words very, so, and just twice each. Nothing major.

However, if overused, weak words can indicate a lack of confidence. That, in turn, can undermine the message a speaker is trying to convey.

To improve, we’d recommend Yousafzai speak a little bit quicker. However, she might deliberately speak slowly because she’s speaking in a second language. Conversational speed is around 125 words per minute. This pace gives you the flexibility to slow down when you want to emphasize a particular point. Pausing is this rhetorical effect at its extreme.

Our take on it

  1. In Malala’s speech, she manages to strike the perfect balance of humility and self-confidence. She acknowledges that she’s the world’s youngest Pashtun, Pakistani, and person to win the Nobel Peace Prize. However, she balances this out by celebrating her fellow award winner Kailash Satyarthi. (Satyarthi won his prize for advocating against child labor in India.)
  2. She also manages to balance out seriousness with humor. In her speech, she brings the “voiceless children who want change” center-stage. This reminds us of the onus to bring education to all children in every corner of the globe. She reminds us that, while she’s fighting an oppressive terrorist group, she’s still just a young girl who has brothers. This humanizes her and adds a lighter tone to the speech. That’s important in a speech that is otherwise quite heavy.
  3. Similar to Watson, Yousafzai successfully uses repetition in “it is for those … children.” This emphasizes that the speech is not about her but about building a society that allows children to flourish.
  4. However, in contrast to Watson, Yousafzai uses pauses very deliberately. This is most noticeable at the ends of sentences to drive home the point she is making. This careful control over her speaking exudes confidence. 
  5. Moreover, her use of expressive hand movements and humorous smiles further demonstrates assuredness. If she believes in what she’s saying, we should as well.

How to Use AI and What You Learned from Watson and Yousafzai

You’ve read through how Watson and Yousafzai used the contents and delivery of their speeches to champion their feminist causes. Now let’s see what you can learn from both of them.

You can start by downloading Yoodli to work on your own public speaking skills. This AI-powered speech coach is perfecting for taking your skills to the next level.

Practicing with Yoodli can help you implement the skills learned from Watson and Yousafzai.

When preparing your speech, include personal anecdotes to show the audience why you’re the perfect person to give this speech.

When practicing delivery, focus on pacing and eye contact — both are necessary to engage your audience fully. If you can, learn from Yousafzai and use your hands and smile as alternative ways of illustrating your point. 

You can get free and personalized feedback on your speech delivery. Just use the AI speech coach Yoodli to get insights on your pacing, inclusiveness of language, filler words, and more. This way, you can gain the confidence and public speaking skills needed to speak like your favorite orators. Keep working at it; you can do it!

Check Out More Speech Analyses

Obama’s DNC Speech in 2020: Learn From an Analysis of His Delivery

“I Have a Dream” Speech Summary, Text, & Analysis

“We shall fight on the Beaches” Speech Summary, Text, & Analysis


Start practicing with Yoodli.

Getting better at speaking is getting easier. Record or upload a speech and let our AI Speech Coach analyze your speaking and give you feedback.

Get Yoodli for free