As a speaker, you have the power to move groups and individuals to action and reflection. But more importantly, I have found that the speaker’s journey is not only about the effect we have on people but about the profound impact it can have on the speaker both personally and professionally.
For example, I present workshops and webinars about salary and raise negotiation techniques to women, preparing them to have difficult conversations with their future employers and current supervisors about their value to the company. Associating impact with money is scary, but isn’t not talking about impact at all scarier? I encourage women to be visible in this process simply because women do not do this enough, speak up to stand out. If we do not ask, we do not receive. If we do not ask, we do not have the information we need to make better decisions for our families and our own lives. Yes, salary negotiation is the topic of these workshops and webinars I run, but I’ve realized I’m really teaching the skill of advocacy, using one’s voice to be known, be seen, and be present.
Have you ever been the woman or worked with a woman who always volunteered to take notes in a meeting but never contributed vocally to the discussion? Have you always wanted to ask your boss what other tasks you could take on to grow or about tasks you’d like to remove from your plate to breathe easier in your position but never followed through? If so, you are not alone in being reluctant to speak up. Eight percent of female Americans are afraid of speaking in public (e.g. over 30 million women) and that fear is shown to lead to a 15% impairment on promotion to management positions and a 10% deficiency in wages/earnings.
As a career coach, I regularly talk to women about their fears and hesitations toward speaking up, and I empower them to use their voice. I partner with clients every day to navigate one of the primary roles we will have in our lifetime, that of an employee. The nuances of the everyday decision-making that go on in the workplace, navigating the politics, prepping for presentations, documenting and tracking your accomplishments, and lobbying for funding to go to a conference all affect us in a very personal way.
As a speaker, I get attendees to think about the big picture of their inaction or actions. What drives me to run workshops, presentations, and do speaking engagements is my ability to reach more people in a shorter period of time. I want to reinforce how professional advancement and personal growth are achieved by speaking up and being visible. We must honor what we want and need by acting on our desires, and often the first step is vocalizing them.
For example, we could spend hours researching the appropriate salary range for a new position, but when it comes time to ask for that amount, all of that preparation goes to waste if we don’t simply ask. We spend time understanding our role, hemming and hawing about the different aspects of our work that affect us most (e.g. drama with a colleague, dissatisfaction with a boss) but if we never say a word about it, we are doing a disservice to ourselves and our workplace.
The Speaker Sisterhood clubs help us to overcome these fears and hesitations. Incorporating paid public speaking into my business model gives me a platform for teaching others the value of intentionality in their careers. If I were silent, I’d deprive mid-career women in my community of the chance to learn to confidently declare what they want and need. We, at the Speaker Sisterhood, are working to prevent that silence, one woman at a time.
We cannot get anywhere without taking the first step. Do not let the number of steps you imagine it will take stop you from achieving your goals. Find one way to be visible and vocal today, whether that be at home, in the workplace, or in your social circle(s). For if we get comfortable hearing our own voices, we can go anywhere and do anything!
Below are four ways you can practice being seen this week:
- Instead of volunteering to take notes at the next meeting, prepare some thoughts or ideas to suggest at the meeting prior to entering the room and plan to raise your hand. Even if you feel yourself getting red or nervous from speaking, do it anyway. You will walk out of the room with your head held higher than when you walked in. If you need a confidence boost, share your ideas or thoughts with a trusted colleague, either one who will be in the meeting with you and can back you up or once who understands the complexity of the topic(s) being discussed and can help you hone your content.
- Having a hard time sharing big news with your boss? Play the scenario out in your head and practice what you will say by talking out loud to yourself in the mirror, or by grabbing a friend or family member to help you sort out your thoughts and practice your pitch. Also, you could consider how your news could benefit your boss and/or the company.
- Want to check out a new group in town but afraid of going to the networking event alone? Take a friend. Walk in together after thinking about a strategy for how you both will work the room separately and/or in partnership. Take a look at the clock and agree to network together for 30 minutes, then hit the refreshments table or take a trip to the ladies’ room. Once you are done, separate for another 30 minutes and find someone to chat with. Chances are you will meet someone in the bathroom or over the hors d’oeuvres to speak with. You can ask them if it is their first time at the event, how they got involved, what they do for work, or comment about something going on in your area and then let them do the talking.
- Follow and/or join a few meetup groups that share your interests and plan to attend one. If you are more introverted, peruse the list of members and find someone whose profile information resonates with you and reach out to them via the group’s direct messaging system. Striking up a conversation virtually before attending an event can help you “have a friend” to meet walking into the room.
Speaking up does not have to be complicated. It just takes one step, one action, and the desire to be heard and seen.
Want to join other ladies in this journey? Join a club today! My Lehigh Valley Speaker Sisterhood Club is coming soon, so get on my email list and be the first to hear the details!
Meghan Godorov is an international presenter, career coach, and community leader who cares deeply about helping mid-career professionals navigate their careers and anchor their futures. Find her at www.meghangodorov.com, on LinkedIn, or on Instagram @meghangodorov to check out her creative #walkphotography. Learn more about her club in Lehigh Valley, PA.