Tuesday, October 28, 2008

signaling "let's get down to business"

Our contest to win a free set of the new Eloquent Woman magnetic poetry asks you to leave a question about women and public speaking after this post -- I'll answer the questions, and send the best questioner a free set of the poetry. Alice in Infoland asked: Male speakers often signal "let's get down to business" by taking off their jackets and/or rolling up their shirtsleeves. What can women presenters use as that same kind of signal to their audiences?

Great question, Alice--it underscores the subtle signals, many silent, that speakers can send to their audiences, whether it's colleagues around a table or listeners in a lecture hall. And in truth, there's nothing to stop a woman from rolling up her sleeves or taking off her jacket, right? But if you're uncomfortable doing either, try these options:
  • Take command of the space: If everyone's seated, stand. If you're behind a lectern, walk out to the front of the audience. If there's a U-shaped table format, walk into the space inside the "U." Move in a relaxed way; a good look if you're standing is to hold your arms with elbows bent, hands lightly clasped, as here. If you're seated at a table, put both arms stretched out in front of you and lean forward.
  • Take charge with your words: "Let's get started," or "let's get to work" couldn't be clearer. But make it an invitation to join you--"I know everyone here has good ideas, so let's get started," or "I'm excited to be with you at such a critical time. Let's not waste a moment getting started."
  • Do either before you sit down. If it's your meeting--or you want it to be--try either of the above strategies as you enter the room or shortly after, but before you're seated.
What are your questions about women and public speaking? Put them in the comments (and be sure to give us a way to reach you if you want that magnetic poetry)!

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