Saturday, June 27, 2009

organizers: get women on the program

Shireen Mitchell, whose Twitter handle is digitalsista, here offers useful tips for conference organizers about how to ensure their panels include women speakers--she's speaking in response to a Wired magazine conference which caused a stir by fielding a tech panel without women speakers. (Technology's one of several professions where women are noticing all-male speaker rosters.) In addition to these tips, an online petition was started. A similar protest was launched here against a MediaBistro conference without women on a critical panel.

You also can help ensure women get on the program by contacting your professional membership groups and asking them to write letters of complaint; letting conference sponsors know you'd like to see more gender balance on panels; and volunteering to serve on conference committees that select speakers. In this case, the worlds of tech and media responded to the rise of complaints on Twitter and other web sites: Both conferences vowed to correct the error. Make sure you let conference organizers know you want to see diversity--particularly women speakers--in every session.

Related posts on getting women on the program, including history, tips, and resources

contest: step up your speaking in 15 weeks

UPDATED: See below for new entry details!

Are you wishing you could step up your speaking game to a new level--or just step up to speaking as a beginner? Enter The Eloquent Woman's new contest, and you'll have the chance to step up your speaking in 15 weeks, right on this blog. You'll get direct coaching from me via posts and videos on this blog, and you'll be posting, too--in video questions and sessions. The 15-week program will allow you to choose your top three priorities for improving your speaking--the things you most want to address--as well as 12 other essential steps that will help anyone improve as a public speaker.

Of course, just one lucky winner will be participating--but the rest of you will get to watch and learn alongside her. And here's the program our winner will follow: Every week, for 15 weeks, she'll submit a short video that asks questions about the week's topic, and she'll get coaching from me via video and written posts on the blog. The winner must agree to post once weekly for 15 weeks, and to do the exercises provided. The 15-week program for stepping up your public speaking includes:

  • Week 1: Sharing your concerns about public speaking, and your three priorities for what you want to improve. I'll share what we can accomplish together.

  • Week 2: Creating a message you want to convey. You'll submit your ideas about the 3 points you want to convey, and I'll do a message makeover to help you get your message across.

  • Week 3: We'll address your number-one priority. You ask questions, I'll share answers.

  • Week 4: Every speaker hesitates a bit when facing the audience, some more than others. We'll work on building confidence and reducing stress in speaking.

  • Week 5: Are there really gender issues related to public speaking? We'll talk about your experiences and the history, psychology and social issues related to women and public speaking.

  • Week 6: Your second priority comes to the fore: Your questions, my answers.

  • Week 7: Where's the speaker? We'll cover positioning yourself when you speak: Using a lectern, sitting, standing, moving around will be our topics.

  • Week 8: Connecting with the audience is the key to any speaking opportunity. We'll talk about how to connect with and persuade your audience -- and help them pay attention to your talk.

  • Week 9: Your third priority, along with its questions and answers.

  • Week 10: This week, we'll consider those double-edged swords for women speakers--appearance factors that can work for or against you--such as hair, makeup, jewelry and wardrobe.

  • Week 11: We'll build the skills you need for working with program organizers: What to ask them, what to tell them about you and your talk. In this week, you'll approach some speaking opportunities and tell us about your progress.

  • Week 12: You'll share a video of yourself conveying your message in a short talk, and get useful feedback on how you can improve your results.

  • Week 13: Learning how to followup after a speech is this week's topic, from handouts to thanks and recommendations.

  • Week 14: You'll share another video of yourself trying out your short message, using the feedback from week 12, with more pointers.

  • Week 15: Open season: You can ask three more questions--either as followups to what we've learned, or things not covered.

    That's a lot of coaching! But in addition to the 15 weeks of advice, the winner also will receive this custom-designed Flip MinoHD Camcorder, a $229 value. It's also the tool that will enable you to easily share your questions by video; all the software needed to edit, upload and store your videos is contained within the camera.

    Here's how to enter:
  • Make a 3-minute-or-less video of yourself, telling me your 3 priorities for what you want to improve in your public speaking skills. You can choose from such topics as your vocal skills, appearance, handling audience questions, gesturing, speaking extemporaneously, eye contact, and more. Be sure to check the list of what we'll be covering so you use your 3 priorities wisely! Then post your short video to, and tag it "eloquent woman contest" so I can find it.
  • UPDATE: If you're one of the Eloquent Woman's fans on Facebook, you also can enter your video on Facebook and skip the YouTube step. Find us on Facebook here.

  • Send me a short essay making the case for your coaching. What will coaching help you achieve? Why? Do this in 500 words or less. Email it to frays4755[at]mypacks[dot]com. Include your contact information, which will not be published, but is needed so we can reach you. Indicate your permission for your video and essay to be used in whole or in part on the Eloquent Woman blog. Entries without contact information or permission expressly indicated will not be considered for the contest.

  • Post and email your entry no later than midnight Eastern Time, July 31, 2009. Winners will be announced in August, with the coaching to start in September 2009.
  • Finally: Tell your female friends and colleagues about this opportunity--even if you don't want to participate, you may have colleagues or friends who'd benefit from this type of coaching. (And yes, while I coach both men and women to be effective public speakers and media interview subjects, this contest is open to women only--my own way of helping advance their chances to compete in a sphere that's often been closed to them.) Public speaking training's one of the best professional development skills you can acquire. Don't miss this chance to try! Leave your questions in the comments and I'll do my best to answer them.

    Related posts: Don't let video hold up your contest entry

    Put your contest entry on Facebook