Friday, January 30, 2015

Famous Speech Friday: Maria Klawe on asking for salary increases


(Editor's note: Not long after the headlines appeared about this interview at the Grace Hopper Celebration in 2014, I asked reader and software engineer Cate Huston--who was present at this session--to write about the missing piece in the coverage. Of course, that missing piece was what the woman leading this interview said. It's not only important for the content, but because serving as a on-stage interviewer is increasingly among the public speaking roles you may be asked to take. As Huston notes in this post, you have more choices to make than simply asking questions when you're in this pivotal role.)

In October 2014, Satya Nadella as CEO of Microsoft made headlines when in a keynote at a conference of over 8000 women, he advocated the benefit of not asking for pay-rises, but instead trusting in karma. It was highly tweetable, and because it followed a plenary panel of “male allies” from the night before that had also contained some unfortunate remarks, the comments gained traction and outrage outside the conference. That external reaction was far greater than among those attending, who had heard his many thoughtful comments through the rest of the interview. Best of all, and largely ignored in the press coverage, was his interviewer Maria Klawe’s response. Klawe is Dean of Harvey Mudd College, and a Microsoft Board Member.

Clearly, if karma worked as a strategy for pay rises, women wouldn’t average 78c on the dollar. In the technology industry the gap is slightly smaller at 84c on the dollar [full study with data for 2013], but this is an industry where more than half the women are driven out by mid-career. It is part of the insidious and pervasive thinking (well documented in Women Don’t Ask - Amazon) that results in women being paid less, starting in their first jobs and resulting in a lifetime loss of $434,000 ($713,000 for those with a college degree or higher) [data from 2008].

As Nadella was lambasted on social media, in the press (internationally!), and on TV, Klawe’s fantastic response and great advice was largely overlooked. Here it is in full:
Well let me tell you a story about myself, because I actually… this is one of the very few things I disagree with you on. 
So, I’ve always been uncomfortable in asking for things for myself. I’m really great at asking for things for the people who work for me. 
But, so, I was being offered the position of Dean of Engineering at Princeton. And… I took it without having been offered a salary. So at some point we’re having this conversation, Shirley Tilghman hired me, and she’s saying “well we have to figure out what salary we’re going to pay you” and I’m so uncomfortable I say “oh just pay me whatever you think is right.” I probably got a good $50,000 less than I would have if I had been doing my job. Same thing when I took the job at Harvey Mudd. They offered me quite a bit less than I thought was appropriate. I didn’t say anything. 
So, so, here’s my advice to all of you. First of all do your homework. Make sure that you actually know what a reasonable salary is if you are being offered a job. Do not be as stupid as I was. Second of all is role play. Sit down with someone you really trust, and practise asking them for the salary you deserve.
Three things we can learn from this:
  • Disagree with your interviewee! Klawe stepped in at the moment they were losing the audience and her answer was a highlight of the talk.
  • Get personal. Nadella talked about theory and the long term view of HR, but Klawe made the loss that women get from not negotiating personal with her own story of being paid $50,000 less than she should have been at Princeton. Further revealing that she had made the same mistake with her current role made it impossible to ignore as a one-off.
  • Relate to the audience. Klawe’s response is full of things that the many women in the audience relate to, being good at asking for things for others, for example (notice how many times in the whole interview she advocates donating to Harvey Mudd). And where better to make the suggestion of role-playing than at an event with a huge careers fair where women gather to learn and support each other. I bet women were role-playing salary negotiation in the breaks that day.
You can see the video here or below.  The question and comments starts at 1:34:00, but it’s worth watching the entire interview with Nadella which starts at 0:48:30.
2014 GHC Thursday Keynote by Anita Borg Institute

Come to my pre-conference workshop at the Spring Speechwriters and Business Communicators Conference in Cambridge, UK, this April. What goes into a TED-quality talk will help speakers, speechwriters and conference organizers understand how to craft and deliver a talk in the style of TED, whether you're getting ready for a TEDx conference or just a presentation in this popular style. Go to this link  for more details on what's included, as well as a significant discount for readers of The Eloquent Woman. The workshop is on 15 April, and the conference is 16-17 April. Please join me!

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Talk About the Talk: Resa Lewiss, MD, at TEDMED

(Editor's note: Talk About the Talk is our new series in which I ask speakers I've worked with to share their perspective on giving big or important talks. Resa Lewiss, MD, and I worked together at TEDMED 2014 on her talk about delivering ultrasound at the point of care, in the middle of an emergency situation--a new application of an old technology. Lewiss is an associate professor of both emergency medicine and radiology at the University of Colorado School of Medicine.

Backstage at TEDMED, speakers are told that coaching is available and they choose whether to avail themselves of it. Some can't line up fast enough, while others--as Lewiss notes--wonder what can be done just hours or days before a talk. But after coaching nearly 100 speakers for TEDMED and TEDx talks, some well in advance and others backstage, I know much can be done in a short amount of time, if we're focused. I've already used her talk as an example of what you can do when you slow down your speaking speed. And if you're a medical or science professional, take note of what Lewiss says about losing her clinician's distance while telling these stories, and the positive impact it had on others understanding her work. I think you'll find all of her observations useful as you prepare for your next big talk.)

How did you prepare? Who helped you and how?

I realized the potential personal and professional impact and visibility of the talk--for me, for women, for emergency physicians, for point-of-care ultrasound specialists. I wanted to do anything and everything on my end to ensure success. Despite my experience with giving talks and lectures, I took to heart the advice that this was not like any talk I had ever delivered.

I read all suggested articles and blog pieces on preparing and giving a TED talk. I worked closely with Nassim Assefi, Director of Stage Content, and Marcus Webb, Chief Storytelling Officer for TEDMED2014, to fine-tune the story and the message. Truth be told, this was the first time I wrote a speech out as literally word for word as the task required. Memorizing my talk wasn’t difficult; however moving beyond memorization was the most significant challenge. I also prepared by making sure I exercised and slept with as much regularity as possible. This allowed the preparation to digest.

I decided to buy myself a new outfit. Something very me. Something that would be stylish, professional, comfortable. Something that would attract but not detract. Never underestimate the power of the outfit and one’s appearance as an important supporting actor to the talk.

What challenges did you face in preparing, and how did you handle them?

The people who know me best could tell that I wasn’t me when I would practice for them. I sounded memorized and I struggled with moving beyond this--with not sounding rehearsed. Because the reality is that I practiced nonstop--at home, in person, on Google Hangout and facetime with friends, on the sidewalks of New York City and in the subway. I practiced for everyone and with anyone--my childhood friend since age 5 and her mother, my 10- and 12-year old nieces, my residents, my work colleagues, my confidante friends, my parents, my first cousin and his wife, my friends in business, my friends in journalism, my friends with international and high visibility roles in their companies. I appreciated the honesty people provided and was moved with how seriously people took their roles as listeners. One friend, who is as close as a brother, had me practice the choreography--my walk on stage and off stage, and my steps to the red circle, my hands at beginning, middle and end, and my overall gestures. I practiced smiling as I spoke. Something happened with all of that repetition.

At the event, we had the opportunity to sign up to work with you. I heard many people say that it was too late and what could you help with at this stage in the preparations. However, I live life avoiding major regrets. I signed up and the work we did together less than 24 hours before my go live was transformative. You offered content to cut, pace to slow and pointed directions for my walk. That evening, I practiced more with a few TEDMED attendee friends. They made me slow down e-v-e-n more than was comfortable for me. When I was at my slowest in speed, they said it was the best take I had done. You had told me – s-l-o-w down.

What kinds of reactions have you had?

A few people remarked that they finally understand my career work despite my previously detailed explanations. Two of my more amusing experiences: Day One of an ultrasound in medical education conference in Portland Oregon. I was sitting on a lobby chair. A woman rushed up to me, smiling and cheered my name “Resa !!!” Her arms wide with a warm embrace. I did not know this woman. I did not recognize this woman. She explained “Resa, we all watched you in Brazil. We watched your TEDMED talk.” So, she did not know me and I did not know her, but in that moment, she felt like she knew me and I just received it. I attended a professional meeting in Chicago recently. The executive director of the organization and meeting director walked in to the room of 8 attendants. We all expected formal introductions and greetings; however, she immediately directed her attention to me and remarked “You look exactly like you do on your TEDMED talk.” How funny.

What else should we know that we haven't asked about?

The TEDMED experience as attendant and speaker is truly unique. The conference inspires. The TEDMED staff, the speakers , the attendants and the HIVE innovators are inspiring. The food and drink are inspiring. The space is inspiring. The integration of art with technology and medicine is inspiring. Creativity and innovation come from places such as these.


 

Come to my pre-conference workshop at the Spring Speechwriters and Business Communicators Conference in Cambridge, UK, this April. What goes into a TED-quality talk will help speakers, speechwriters and conference organizers understand how to craft and deliver a talk in the style of TED, whether you're getting ready for a TEDx conference or just a presentation in this popular style. Go to this link  for more details on what's included, as well as a significant discount for readers of The Eloquent Woman. The workshop is on 15 April, and the conference is 16-17 April. Please join me!

Monday, January 26, 2015

The Eloquent Woman's weekly speaker toolkit

Fans of The Eloquent Woman on Facebook see links to good reads, resources and ideas from other sources there, in addition to posts from the blog. But you won't miss a thing, since I'm summarizing that extra content and putting it here on the blog for all readers to see. Here's what I shared in the week just past:
Come to my pre-conference workshop at the Spring Speechwriters and Business Communicators Conference in Cambridge, UK, this April. What goes into a TED-quality talk will help speakers, speechwriters and conference organizers understand how to craft and deliver a talk in the style of TED, whether you're getting ready for a TEDx conference or just a presentation in this popular style. Go to this link  for more details on what's included, as well as a significant discount for readers of The Eloquent Woman. The workshop is on 15 April, and the conference is 16-17 April. Please join me!

Friday, January 23, 2015

Famous Speech Friday: Viola Davis: "Everything should be spoken"

Viola Davis is among my favorite speakers here at The Eloquent Woman and she's in the very small club of women with three speeches in our Index of famous speeches by women. This speech, in which she accepted an award at Variety's Power of Women luncheon in 2014, got immediate and widespread attention and is a great, short example of why I admire her so.

Davis was being honored for her work with Hunger Is, which seeks to eradicate childhood hunger. And in this short acceptance speech, at a luncheon where the menu was no doubt fine, Davis managed to grab the audience's attention by taking them to the dumpster--and in doing so, gave everyone a short lesson on the power of public speaking:
You know they say that you're never too old to have a happy childhood. And although my childhood was filled with many happy memories, it was also spent in abject poverty. I was one of the 17 million kids in this country who didn't know where the next meal was coming from. And I did everything to get food. I've stolen for food. I've jumped in huge garbage bins with maggots for food. I have befriended people in the neighborhood who I knew had mothers who cooked three meals a day for food. And I sacrificed a childhood for food and grew up in immense shame.
And the word that I would like to eradicate today is unspeakable. Because I think everything should be spoken. I think everybody's testimony should be spoken. I think everybody's shame should be spoken. And the stain that is on this country is that one out of every five children in this country are living in households that are food poor. And of all the elementary school teachers out there they say that three out of five of the kids in their class, come to school hungry in the richest country in the world.
What can you learn from this famous speech?
  • Say it plain: Davis's words have so much more impact because she did not strive to make them smooth, rounded, elegant or complex. It's hard to have more impact than "I've stolen for food," or "I've jumped in hug garbage bins with maggots for food."
  • Use data wisely: This is Hollywood, so it's important that the speech not sound all about her. Davis weaves just a few key data points into her speech, noting she was one of the 17 million kids with hunger, or that three out of five elementary schoolchildren come to school hungry. The data keep this from being an ego trip, but by using them judiciously, she makes sure they, too, have plenty of punch.
  • Look what you can do without a script: Davis has said she never prepares written remarks, claiming it would scare her more. So you'll hear ums and pauses aplenty, and yet she's among the most eloquent extemporaneous speakers I've heard. Why does this work? It's a personal set of stories and perspectives, spoken from the heart.
Watch the video below and think about how you can have more impact when you accept an award.




Come to my pre-conference workshop at the Spring Speechwriters and Business Communicators Conference in Cambridge, UK, this April. What goes into a TED-quality talk will help speakers, speechwriters and conference organizers understand how to craft and deliver a talk in the style of TED, whether you're getting ready for a TEDx conference or just a presentation in this popular style. Go to this link  for more details on what's included, as well as a significant discount for readers of The Eloquent Woman. The workshop is on 15 April, and the conference is 16-17 April. Please join me!

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Do you have clinician's distance when telling stories? How to recover

"Tell me more about that student," I said to the physician I was coaching. We were working on a story she could tell as part of a talk she'd be giving to donors. "What does she look like?"

"You mean her physical data?"

"Yes, but let's call it hair color, height, weight, freckles, whatever." And that's when I diagnosed my client with the only thing I'm licensed to identify: Clinician's distance when speaking to a public audience.

You don't have to be an actual clinician to have this public speaking problem, though it happens more frequently among medical professionals, scientists, engineers, and technology experts. If you're in an academic or research or clinical setting, it's expected that you'll strip out the emotion and personal details, or hold them at arm's length to examine them. Anyone pursuing graduate-level education will be taught not to put themselves into presentations, over and over again, until it becomes habitual to distance yourself from the personal. And don't get me started on specialists who invent multi-syllabic terms for the simplest words we'd all recognize.

Sometimes, that's a matter of professional shorthand--you want one term, not several specific ones, to signal to a colleague what you're talking about. Sometimes, on the other hand, you may be doing what Sam Leith, author of Words Like Loaded Pistols: Rhetoric from Aristotle to Obama, noted at the UK Speechwriters Guild conference last year: Hiding behind an obfuscating term because, if you were to be understood, you might be found banal. That fear of being too obvious and boring, of not adding to the intrigue, is a common one among experts and specialists. But in my mind, it's the wrong way to go about intriguing your audience.
Now that we've diagnosed you, what's the prescription? Here are some tactics that have worked for my clients:
  • Turn that clinical eye to your personal stories: You'll be at ease describing data in your talk, but when it comes to describing yourself, your family members, stressful personal moments and the like, watch out for words and phrases that will distance you from your subject, just when we want to see some passion and emotion. If you're speaking about your recently deceased father but don't show some emotion, we'll see you and that story differently than you're hoping. Identifying your trouble spots in a talk is the first step to changing your approach.
  • Think about your motivation for using the $10 words: If you're choosing more complicated terms, or dispassionate ones, because you feel you'll sound better, more important, or well-educated, think again. As Einstein said, "If you can't explain it to your grandmother, you don't understand it well enough." The ability to communicate with anyone, not just people in your specialty, requires language we can all follow--and it is the more difficult skill to master.
  • Don't forget that with techspeak, you're speaking to a truly narrow audience: When you use the language of your specialized training, you may not just be missing the public audience you want to reach. You're probably just as confusing to other researchers and clinicians with different specialties, since they all use their own jargon and technical terms--often, with one term meaning very different things across specialties. Find those universally understood words instead to reach both technical and non-technical listeners, and expand your audience.
  • Think back before your training: You learn an entirely different vocabulary in your training as a researcher or clinician. But how would you describe this scene/person/moment before all that knowledge? How would you describe it to your children? Your younger self? Your smart teenage niece? Reaching back for everyday terms from your past may help you put the point across in the present.
  • Know that sometimes, emotion is appropriate: Sometimes it's the occasion that permits emotion--as in speeches at weddings or funerals--and sometimes, it's the moment you're describing that demands it. Speakers' visible and audible emotions help the audience interpret what you are saying. So if you're describing something joyous, I'm going to want to see a smile on your face. Likewise, choking up with emotion when you are describing a difficult personal moment is not only entirely understandable, but appropriate. No one in the audience will fail to understand and accept it. If you instead give a wedding speech or TED talk that sounds as if you're delivering an academic paper, on the other hand, you're not fitting the speech to the occasion.
  • Emotion can be a handle that lets us grasp your complex topic: The audience may not understand entirely or at all your work in nanotubes, immunology, or engineering new mechanical devices that will save lives in surgery. But your emotions and some personal details can give your listeners a path to getting there with you. If you inject some personality by telling us what inspired you to pursue this research, how you felt when a particular patient was helped by your work, or what's most frustrating to you about the search for answers, we'll be able to relate to that...and we'll be more likely to listen further.
I've worked for two major scientific societies and national health and environment organizations, so training technical experts is one of my areas of expertise. Let me know if you need a workshop or coaching around closing that clinician's distance from your audience. Just email me at eloquentwoman AT gmail DOT com to get started.

(Creative Commons licensed photo by John Twohig)

Come to my pre-conference workshop at the Spring Speechwriters and Business Communicators Conference in Cambridge, UK, this April. What goes into a TED-quality talk will help speakers, speechwriters and conference organizers understand how to craft and deliver a talk in the style of TED, whether you're getting ready for a TEDx conference or just a presentation in this popular style. Go to this link  for more details on what's included, as well as a significant discount for readers of The Eloquent Woman. The workshop is on 15 April, and the conference is 16-17 April. Please join me!

Monday, January 19, 2015

The Eloquent Woman's weekly speaker toolkit

Fans of The Eloquent Woman on Facebook see links to good reads, resources and ideas from other sources there, in addition to posts from the blog. But you won't miss a thing, since I'm summarizing that extra content and putting it here on the blog for all readers to see. Here's what I shared in the week just past:
Come to my pre-conference workshop at the Spring Speechwriters and Business Communicators Conference in Cambridge, UK, this April. What goes into a TED-quality talk will help speakers, speechwriters and conference organizers understand how to craft and deliver a talk in the style of TED, whether you're getting ready for a TEDx conference or just a presentation in this popular style. Go to this link  for more details on what's included, as well as a significant discount for readers of The Eloquent Woman. The workshop is on 15 April, and the conference is 16-17 April. Please join me!