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‹ View all articles 26th October 2016

Female empowerment through public speaking

Public Speaking Essentials

There are times we fall into gender traps. Ways we are 'taught' to behave by society. I grew up thinking that it’s good to be ‘Good’; that one should be polite, smiley and pleasant. One should never offend, never assert themselves too much, nor should get too passionate or too emotional. One should, you might say, be a ‘Good Girl’.

What society thinks is good actually equals obedient.

Obedience taught to us by reinforcing what being a good woman looks like and sounds like… demure, humble, don’t interrupt, behave, think inside the box, don’t be mouthy or opinionated, play with girl toys, and never ever EVER dare interrupt someone.

Ladies, ask yourself if you've ever felt or done the following:

  • You worry a lot about pleasing the audience “Will I know enough?” “Will they like me?” “What will they think of my talk?”;
  • You moderate what you’re saying so that it’s easier or nicer to hear;
  • You would rather change your opinion than disagree with someone in a public speaking setting;
  • You have a tendency to rush through your material or shorten it, preferring not to take up too much time of the audience;
  • You tend towards facilitating a discussion, rather than rallying change;
  • You tend to apologize or get embarrassed if you notice yourself having too much impact
  • You seek connection and resonance with the audience more than allowing them the discomfort needed to change.

Sound familiar? Here's how to break out of the gender stereotypes and bring some serious female empowerment to your public speaking.

Drop the fillers

  • I’m just wondering ...
  • I actually have a question.
  • I just think ...
  • I actually want to add something.
  • I just want to add ...

The words “just” and "actually" demean what you have to say. “Just” shrinks your power. "Actually" shows that you are surprised that you have something to say. Think about how much stronger it sounds to simply say what you need to say without the "Just's" and "Actually's"

  • I'm wondering...
  • I have a question...
  • I think...
  • I want to add something...
  • In addition...

A public speaker is also a leader, so if you are uncertain about the force of your message, you will signal to your audience that they shouldn’t take it seriously either.

Other words and phrases of which to be wary...

  • In other words…
  • Basically…
  • In fact…
  • To make a long story short…
  • Essentially…

Stop Undermining Yourself

When you start sentences with:
  • I haven’t done much research on this but ...
  • Just thinking off the top of my head but ...
  • You’ve obviously been studying this longer than I have, but ...

What you're actually saying is

I’m not completely standing behind what I’m about to say and I'm worried that you won't like me

When you unleash your true voice you become more powerful than you can imagine. This is what brings the most benefit; both to your audience and to you. Your true job as a public speaker is to bring about inspiration or change; to get across a message of some sort.

Next time you start to worry about whether your audience likes you or not, remember that you’re missing the point. The audience are much more interested in getting benefit from your talk, than in judging you as likeable or otherwise.

Clip the Caveats

Women sometimes tend to preface their arguments with a 'warning' or 'admonition' of their limitations.

  • It’s just my opinion
  • I’m not really sure
  • I could be wrong but...

All of this is a subconscious signal that we don't have enough confidence in our opinions.

So often, we wait for someone to tell us that it’s ok for us to speak our mind, to argue, to stick up for something important. You could be waiting forever for that to happen. Instead of waiting, take permission from yourself that you are allowed to express yourself. Or if you really need permission – I give it to you right now.

Always being pleasant might make you likeable, but it’s more likely to be mediocre than powerful. Rapport is important to connect you to an audience, but there are times when you need to risk breaking rapport to have the biggest impact.

Women need to find their OWN voice – not a male substitute

Some women tend to believe that being a good speaker involves being a more ‘male ‘speaker.

Don't buy into it.

Don’t give credence to the current advice to ‘lower your voice to sound more authoritative’.  You need to be clear, of course, but to inspire trust you need, above all, to be your authentic self.

Stop thinking of it as pushing your agenda and to start to see it as allowing the space for people to connect with the full power of your message. It’s a shift from constantly worrying about your own aims, your own ‘bottom line’ and your own ego, to seeking to benefit others.

Don’t change your personality: find the power that already exists within you (Anything else will make you seem fake)

I have something important to give – I’m not only ‘taking’ from my audience.

How much do you believe in your message? Your information has value for your audience and if you believe in your message then your audience will as well. The act of public speaking is all about giving. Giving a voice and face to the information your audience needs.  Don’t downplay or belittle the act of giving.

 

 

 

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