When I was creating my latest workshop program, Unprecedented Confidence, I interviewed a range of leaders – men and women – from large organisations.
I wanted to know how the women in their organisations hold themselves back when it comes to presentations, meetings, interviews and pitches.
Our discussions were frank. I gleaned a massive amount of information. And I walked away from those meetings with mixed feelings. My interviews confirmed I’d nailed the focus and content of my workshop program. I was inspired and motivated. And I was deeply concerned too, although not surprised, to hear stories that affirm the path for many women is still slow and silent.
Here’s some of what those leaders shared with me. They said many of the women:
- Hold back in meetings and seem to want to be given permission to speak
- Don’t go for it like the men do
- Are much more qualified and experienced than the men, but they don’t put up their hands and ask for promotions or other opportunities
- Don’t back themselves and their expertise
- Never seem to think they’re good enough
- Don’t have the confidence to talk to someone they bump into at work, especially an executive
- Always wait for the men to speak first in meetings
- Don’t challenge the men because they don’t think it’s their place to do that
- Over-think and over-script, and don’t get to the point of what they want to say
- Are afraid of challenging the men
- Don’t want to present because they’re afraid of making mistakes
- Don’t step out of their comfort zone
- Sit back and wait for something to happen, rather than making it happen
- Are their own worst enemies
- Say they’d love to have the confidence to present well, but are afraid of having a go
- Don’t seek opportunities to speak and share their expertise
Those words were repeated by different people from different organisations. It’s the most recent snapshot of the state of gender imbalance in SA.
What those leaders shared with me raised even more questions than they answered. I’ll discuss them in further posts. Right now, I want to focus on speaking of the public variety.
Presenting, speaking up in meetings, public speaking – and creating other opportunities to share your knowledge and experience – are excellent ways to get known, build trust, respect, and your reputation, grow your business and get ahead.
It means giving yourself permission to step out of your comfort zone, backing yourself, having a go, and claiming your skills, knowledge, experience – and power.
Here’s how to start:
- Give yourself the respect you deserve. Only you can do it. I’m fed up with brilliant, successful women who still believe they’re not enough, and hide away. There will never be a moment when you can declare you’re enough because you’ve completed one more degree or certificate or other accreditation. Having 20 years’ experience in your job means nothing if you can’t acknowledge your contribution, and see how pivotal and powerful you really are. List your achievements – personally and professionally. Put them down on paper and see for yourself for who you really are. Own your achievements.
- Speak early and often in meetings. Be among the first two or three people to speak. In a one-hour period, aim for 3-5 comments or questions. Make note of when you speak so you can keep track. If you’re not sure what to say, ask a question or support and add to something someone else has said. That way you’ll make your presence known.
- Create opportunities to present. Come up with ideas that could form a speaking topic, and arrange to present them at a meeting. Organise a paper bag lunch at work with you as the speaker. Develop a speaking topic and offer seminars for your clients. Put up your hand for speaking opportunities, even if they’re as simple as introducing someone at the beginning of a meeting. You can even craft a talk and present it to a small group of friends. Step outside your comfort zone and have a go. Your stories and experiences, wrapped up in your expertise, are well worth hearing.
- Own your power and hone your skills. When you present – in a presentation, meeting, interview or pitch – you hold an incredible amount of power. You really do. You have an opportunity to influence, persuade and motivate, to change minds and hearts. It’s an enormous responsibility. Do it justice. Work on whatever’s stopping you from presenting with presence, clarity and conviction. Hone your skills. Work with a coach, mentor, or someone else you trust to constructively and expertly guide you. Discover your own X-factor so you can unleash it and express yourself superbly in front of an audience.
There’s no better way to get noticed than standing up and speaking.
Know that what you have to say matters. In fact, it’s essential. Your clients and customers – current and potential – and managers rely on your advice, guidance and wisdom. They rely on your voice.
Hiding doesn’t serve anyone.
About the author
Tricia Karp is dedicated to helping women develop their power and leadership through powerful self-expression. She’s the founder of www.TriciaKarp.com, where she shares her strategies and wisdom for becoming a world class speaker and communicator.
To find out about Tricia’s latest Australian workshop – Unprecedented Confidence – come over here.