Monday, May 7, 2012

Do you turn down speaking gigs because you're not "the expert?"

In the recent post Do you talk yourself out of speaking--or say yes to opportunity? I was exploring the suggestion I've heard that qualified women speakers refer invitations on to men or otherwise turn down speaking gigs they might have taken. In the comments, Louise Armstrong wrote:
Great question that made me squirm when I read it because I think I've been guilty of this from time to time. This may not be a popular opinion but I think, at a certain level of business, some women (not all) feel that everything they do needs to be spectacular in order for them to be taken seriously and valued as much as their male counterparts. I've often turned down speaking opportunities because I didn't believe I was enough of a subject matter expert to "wow" the audience, only to see a man with much less expertise take the same gig. I don't think they necessarily believe they know more or will do better. I just think they're less afraid to fail.
I wouldn't suggest anyone take a speaking gig that was clearly outside her expertise, but this comment made me think of the saying that Ginger Rogers had to do everything Fred Astaire did--and do it backwards, and in heels. Do you feel the task is greater, that you have more hurdles to overcome, or do you feel less able to fail? Do you feel your expertise isn't "enough?" Let us know in the comments--you're free to post anonymously.