By Elaine Powell
It is very interesting to know that women make up 51% of the UK population, yet we are under-represented as leaders in many industries and as speakers at large events and conferences. The reasons for this are multifaceted and many are outside of our influence, however, I want to support women to change and improve those things that are within their control – themselves.
I have trained over 30,000 people in ‘thought-set’ and public speaking skills. Through this experience, I have come across many amazing women who also have great businesses but are ‘choosing’ to stay behind the scenes and remain invisible, just out of their fear of speaking in public.
The three major reasons are:
- Mindset – fears, beliefs, and nerves
- Lack of self-esteem, self-consciousness, and confidence
- Wanting to get it right so they are not rejected
Lack of speaking skills can:
- Cripple your confidence
- Hinder your career path
- Stagnate your business
All of this can start at a young age. I used to go into school delivering public speaking skills to Year 10 students. In a room of thirty students, I would have fifteen boys and fifteen girls. The aim of the workshop was for them to deliver a two-minute speech at the end of the day without any notes. Scary right? For some, yes. During the day, I would ask them to do various activities. “Can I have five people at the front of the room please?” Guess which gender would just get up and come to the front of the room? A majority of the time, it would be four boys and perhaps one girl. Why?
My observations over the years were, at that age, girls are much better public speakers. Louann Brizendine, M.D’s book ‘The Female Brain’ states that women have a larger part in their brain for communication. As we are the majority of the time, the main caregivers, the ones who speak a lot to our children, from the time they are in our stomachs, to helping them to eat, behave and live life. Yes, I know that fathers/men are doing that too. Although, most often, women speak a lot more to their children than fathers do.
As I watched the young ladies in the workshop, I could see that when I asked them to come to the front of the room, they were very much inside their heads. They were asking themselves:
- Can I do this?
- Will I get it wrong?
- What if I make a fool of myself?
- What if I cannot do this?
- What will others think about me?
- Will I make a fool of myself?
- Is what I have to say worth listening to?
This is not made up, as I have asked hundreds of young ladies over the past twelve years, “Why did you not come to the front of the room?” and these were the reasons they gave me. My observation is that a lot of the time, boys’ thinking processes are a lot shorter, and quicker. They do not spend as much time in their head, they just act. I remind the young ladies that this is how it can also be in the workplace. Men will take action more by speaking up at meetings, putting themselves forward, being confident that they can just do it. Yes, I know this is a generalisation as there are always exceptions to the rule, but generally this can happen.
I tell the young girls in the workshop “Do not expect men to sit back and not take action, they will always take action.” Your job is to act just as quickly, do not be stuck in your thinking process and know that you will work it out as it happens. How can we change this?
You should start implementing the Decide, Commit, Resolve formula. This was initially coined by Tony Robbins, who read Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill. Napoleon Hill observed very successful people and said they all had this in common:
- They decide to do something.
- They commit to do it.
- They have resolve – they work it out as they go along.
Most people do not live life this way, they do it the other way around:
Resolve: “Can I do it, what if this happens, what if that happens…” Half the time they will talk themselves out of something.
Decide: If they do decide to do it, perhaps the opportunity may have already passed them by. If the opportunity has not passed by, then they will…
Commit: To follow through with it. This is a much slower process, hence why some women are not getting the results they want, the jobs, the positions, the opportunities to speak etc. They are very much inside their heads.
I am not saying that it is bad to be inside your head, however it does not help when you are in a situation where there are others that apply the decide, commit, and resolve tactic. So, what is the solution?
Step 1: Embrace that we only really learn in the ‘doing’ phase of anything. As Nike says, ‘Just Do It’ as that is where you will grow the most.
Step 2: Know that you have always worked things out, and in the process you learnt. That is why you are at the stage you are today.
Step 3: Implement the Decide, Commit, Resolve formula and see the results come flying through. Then you can assess what worked and what did not. Remember not to beat yourself up, as you can implement what was missing the next time.
Let us become role models for the younger generation of women; to show them that we also can be fearless, bold, and courageous by speaking up and out. Let us be the generation that inspires young women to Speak with Conviction, Authenticity and Confidence.
Let us be women who speak.
About Elaine Powell
Elaine Powell is an Award-Winning Professional Speaker, Peak Performance and Storytelling Coach, and founder of MindSpeak Academy. MindSpeak Academy coaches passionate entrepreneurs, authors and experts to help them grow their visibility, credibility and thought leadership. Over the past twelve years, Elaine has spoken at over 200 events, trained 30,000 people, delivered over 600 workshops in the art of peak performance and public speaking. Elaine is passionate about transformation, and has delivered talks for companies such as BT, The British Army, NatWest and the BBC in order to transform the leaders of the future.