When my coach first said to me I'd need to take to the stage and speak I said -
"No way!" "Not me!" "Talk to the hand!".
While I'd booked and briefed more speakers than most people have had hot dinners, the thought of doing it myself was terrifying.
Spring forward a few years and that initial resistance is beginning to dissipate. While I still get incredibly nervous, it's now more manageable - and I know I can make a bigger difference speaking one to many.
AIM Great Debate
Recently I shared the AIM Great Debate stage in Canberra with high profile, advertising and media personality, Jane Caro. Jane is well known for her dry sense of humour, her unique perspective and her ability to get the room comfortable really fast. She was also the adjudicator for the debate.
Speaking While Female
So we started to chat about some of the challenges women speakers face including:
- The audience will critique what you look like, no matter what. And frequently, other women are the harshest critics.
- Some of us try and pack our talks full of content to prove we know what we're talking about and give extra value - when the principle of less is more might work better.
- Women speakers are still far more prevalent in the female empowerment space than hard data business topics, so finding ways to establish credibility is critical.
Just prior to going on stage Jane gave me three great pieces of advice which I now share with you.
- #1 - be authentic because the audience will warm to you more. Not the let it all hang out type of authenticity, but the type that connects with real life language, experience and examples.
- #2 - don't be afraid to use humour. Humour is the thing that unites us. So smile at the audience, use your regular jokes that you would with peers and colleagues, and win them over with humour.
- #3 - be confident and own the room. It will help you boost credibility if you look and sound like you know what you are talking about.
So What Happened Next?
Given my competitive nature, in that moment I mentally dropped the page of stats from my script and stuck to the things that I was far more comfortable with (my skewed way of looking at the world and my irreverent sense of humour). I'd done the preparation, it just helped me to speak from a more authentic place. And the best bit? I rocked the stage for the first time ever. I nailed it. Wish I could bottle it. Looking forward to doing it again. (Thanks Jane!)
- I won points for the dubious honour of being the first person to swear on stage (mum would be so proud),
- I got points for getting the audience to try manspreading and extrapolating to corridors of power in Canberra,
- I got points for sucking up to the adjudicator by closing the argument with one of Jane's frequently quoted statements on gender equity,
- I even got points for working Trump into my argument on the cost of hair care products for women, and
- Our team won!
So why is this important to you?
When we're in the realm of feeling like we're not quite good enough, or that we need to prove our worth, we tend to over prepare, over analyse or run the risk of being overwhelmed. It triggers socialised responses of conscientiousness, compliance and competence.
In some scenarios, conscientiousness, compliance and being competent are suitable. But when you are in speak out mode - making a point, pitching to win, creating compelling arguments, then channelling your confident and more competitive self will be far better.
So get out there and invite yourself onto a speaker panel or something - and rock the stage with your own authentic compelling and confident style.
Remember - smart and savvy truly is the name of this game!
Vive la révolution! #ambitionrevolution #executivebrand
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