Have you ever found yourself at the end of the day after a couple of hefty debates at work thinking
- "Why didn't I say that?",
- "Gee, I wish I hadn't said this ..... ", or
- "Why is it that I always think of the right answer after the fact?"
If that's you, I hear you. I'm the same. Good with an argument after the fact, but not in the spur of the moment. If there was ever a subject that should become compulsory at high school, I reckon it's debating, to help young people learn how to speak in public, to construct rational arguments on the fly and to give them confidence in responding under pressure.
Frequently in a professional environment we need to defend a position or champion an idea, and speak out effectively on said topic. Easier said than done for most.
You have no doubt heard the humorous, but serious terms, bro-propriation, manterruptions and mansplaining, used to draw attention to those times when men speak over women, interrupt women or appropriate women's ideas. Worse, you've likely experienced them. Yet there are things we women can do on our own behalf to ensure that our voice is heard and opinion is valued.
Learning how to back yourself and your ideas, express your opinions powerfully and effectively in meetings, public forums and via published mediums such as interviews will help.
Evidence tells us that there are more male speakers on the speaker circuit and historically the consulting world has been dominated by men. However with more and more women speakers stepping up and speaking out, along with the rise of the fempreneur, our professional world is changing. And the expectation for consultants, business leaders, professionals and entrepreneurs, is that you need to know how to express your opinion in public (comms department permission pending of course).
Letting go of your need to be right
Landing an opinion and having others critique it is extremely challenging for the recovering perfectionist. Yet when you let go of your need to be right, it is far easier.
Once you let go of your need to be right all of a sudden you allow for the possibility that there might be more than one opinion that is right at any one time. After all, an opinion is just an opinion and what we hold to be 'true' today may be considered 'false' tomorrow anyway - and vice versa.
"Pressophobia" - fear of being interviewed by the press
Here’s the rub – most people are scared of expressing their opinion in public. In fact, fear of public speaking is the #1 fear for many and ranks even higher than death.
But I reckon if there is one thing that some people fear more than speaking in public, that’s being interviewed by the press/media.
If done right, media is a great way to boost your personal brand, build your credibility, position you as an expert and help you create authority. Whether that’s industry press, your peak body magazine, or more highly publicised media channels such as television, radio and print/online articles it doesn’t matter.
And if it’s done badly you have egg on your professional face in a potentially humiliating way.
Expert advice from three women in the know
So to help you become better prepared about possible interviews and getting more comfortable with voicing your opinion – I went straight to the source. Three women who know what it’s like to speak with the press and be quoted in public, have given you their thoughts on how to prepare. Thanks to each of Michele Barry, Rebecca Leo and Sharon Sebastian for generously donating their perspectives!
Michele Barry is a leader in the pubic health sector, is currently National President of Better Hearing Australia and Director of Frontis Consulting. She regularly represents the organisations she works for.
1. Know your key messages and be ready for action. Media opportunities can be valuable and at times unexpected. Write media releases, followed by phone calls - get to know the journalists and producers in your topic area.
2. Be easy to deal with - when a journo calls you; call back quickly, respect the time lines of those in the media. If you are easy to deal with you will be called back for your area of expertise. If you are difficult to deal with journos will simply call someone else.
3. Media interviews take practice so ask a trusted friend or colleague for feedback. I was told I smiled too much, which might be good sometimes, but in that instance it was a serious topic.
4. Call or write back to the journalist and say thank you. Tell them about the impact. You are more likely to be asked for an interview again.
5. Have a heading called media contacts on your website/ Facebook. Make it easy for people to help you and connect withyou.
- Michelle’s recommended resources: Invest in media training. Watch recordings of your self and work on your personal style. Sign up to "the Source" a PR reaching site and go for it.
- Michele can be contacted via LinkedIn
Rebecca Leo is the Founder of Roar Women and the award winning Roar Events Australia. She is a speaker, coach and presenter who found herself winning a spot as a guest co-host on The Project!
Rebecca’s #1 tip was given to her by journalist (and host on the night) Hugh Riminton, when she was on The Project: Just be yourself! Be in the conversation as you would be with your best friends. Your presence on camera is much more appealing when you are being naturally you.
- Rebecca’s go to resource? sourcebottle.com for PR opportunities
- Check out Rebecca via her Website | Instagram | Facebook
Sharon Sebastian is a former journalist and currently works as a senior communications professional in Queensland.
Sharon’s #1 advice?
Be prepared and do your research on the journalist, the publication and their target audience
- Find out who the journalist is and which publication they are from. Try and find a couple of articles written by your interviewer to get a feel for what their writing style is like.
- Ask what the article is about and get the deadline.
- Get your questions ahead of time – a good journalist will normally send you through a set of questions so you can prepare. If they don't, not to worry, just ask.
- Key messages – if you are representing your organisation, think about what key messages you would want to get across. Don't try to be a salesperson! (Journalists do not like this.) Think about how you can creatively incorporate key messages about your organisation, while answering the questions put forward by the journalist, in line with what the article is about.
- Sharon can be found via LinkedIn.
- Yes, learning how to speak out articulately and confidently is an excellent executive branding tool. Invest in training, support and practice so you can leverage it.
- Work out what you stand for - key messages, succinct, articulate, powerful and effective
- Be yourself - everyone else is taken!
- Do your research into the publication and audience
- Make it easy for people to find you.
Let me know how you go! If you end up being featured by your industry rag or profiled in your peak body magazine, send me a copy! I'd love to share.
Vive la révolution!
#ambitionrevolution #LookOutCSuiteHereSheComes #feminineambition #careerfutureproofing #visibility #womeninleadership