Tuesday, March 4, 2008
Women who find their voices blogging are a powerful new source of eloquent women (I'm fond of the idea that prolific letter-writer Abigail Adams would've been a blogger today). Today, Blogher Kim Pearson looks at some of the historical factors that have held women back in public speaking and communicating in general. Written in honor of Women's History Month, the post raises issues that have been documented since the ancient Roman empire and continue today--it's not uncommon for me to train and coach women speakers who, despite excellent presentation skills and content, are belittled or decried by male audience members. Sometimes their viewpoint's attacked; sometimes they're dismissed by being told their presentation isn't "sexy enough," an attempt to push them out of the business realm (where they clearly pose a perceived threat) and diminish them. The best way I know to train women speakers and communicators to handle these threats is to build their skills and confidence, particularly avoiding an anxious response that further undermines your presentation. (Think of Ronald Reagan's great "There you go again!" response when attacked in debates--not at all anxious, somewhat charming, and putting the anxiety back where he wanted it to be, on his attacker.) It also helps to spend time anticipating aggressive or hostile questions and developing strong but calm responses. If you've got examples of barriers like these that get in the way of your speaking--or speaking out--please share them! I'd be glad to brainstorm ideas on this site that we can share with all our readers.