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THE TOO BUSY TO READ SERIES:
You don't have to read it 'cause I'll do it for you!
JUNE 2005 selection:

STAND UP and SHOW UP!
WOMEN SEEN and HEARD: LESSONS LEARNED from SUCCESSFUL LEADERS

By Lois Phillips, PhD and Anita Perez Fergunson
Luz Publications

 

          Here is how I weigh in on the gender differences of bad speakers and can truly say that this book is for both men and women. If you want people to get excited about what you have to offer, you (being male or female) will have to do a whole lot better than this:

  1. Have you ever listened to a male speaker who was forceful, charismatic, and emphatic in his speech? Did you find yourself caught up, agreeing with him wholeheartedly, feeling he was someone "who really knows?" After walking away inspired did you realize that three days later there was a lot of impressive style but little substance in the talk and in fact you couldn't remember anything/much of value for you, the eager listener?
     
  2. Have you ever listened to a female speaker who presented with enough substance but also with hedging and unease? Who seemed not quite sure of herself even though she kept up a big smile and was an expert in the field? Who spoke emotionally but talked about the problem in an undisciplined way but three days later you couldn't remember the solution?

I consider all of us solopreneurs to be leaders. What do I say that? Every single client I coach has a unique service or product to sell even if it's in the same field as other clients. It's unique because it comes from the exuberance and the passion of the heart and mind. Like snowflakes, no two are the same.

So, you really are the world's expert on the unique way that you are positioned in your field. By offering up your training, education, style, and beliefs that go into what is uniquely your take on the subject, you stand solidly in your community as a leader.

Consider this. Every time you put your self out there, every time you show up in your community you are making a giant statement. You are saying, "this is what I love, this is what I do, this is why you should chose me instead of somebody else." You are putting yourself on the line, with tremendous promise and because you work with people that means you never quite know what is going to happen with each session. Nothing is formulaic-you are walking with your client, sometimes on the edge, and with courage.

This is why I call you Leaders. What do Leaders do? They motivate people. They ask for and help guide a client or customer to change a behavior. We are in the behavioral change business.

What are all Leaders eventually asked to do? Speak about what they know. Since public speaking is one of the highest-anxiety tasks on the list, standing up, showing up, and speaking up are the hallmarks of very courageous and determined people.

So, it's no wonder that I signed up for a Women in Leadership conference in my small town of Santa Barbara . It was given by a few women, one of whom, Lois Phillips, PhD has been a mentor for me a few times in my career. She works in organizational management and provides training in public speaking to executives in public and private organizations. She makes it her business to know everybody and be very good at what she does. I am just one of the many ducklings who has grabbed on to her tail feathers over the years.

Lois has written a book called, "Women Seen and Heard: Lessons Learned from Successful Speakers." It is a small book with a big heart, just like Lois! It has many, many useful presentation tips for both men and women.

A lot in this book is not about how women should be like men, but how women can use their female and emotional intelligence to be taken as seriously as important speakers. Men can do the same with all of the skill sets she sets forth.

This book is divided into 12 chapters, each with a different focus about presentations and how women can utilize their strengths and change their potential liabilities. For example, in "Feminine Traits" Lois talks about the natural tendency of women to use relationships in order to find a speaking gig and relate to the audience. Women are good at reading their audiences' non-verbal cues and can adapt their talks to signs of boredom, anxiety, or disconnect.

          "Are you able to read your audience like a book?" Lois asks. "Is the listener tilting her/his head to once side, nodding and smiling?" (p.65).

To do this, women must have a very solid foundation for their speech, one grounded in research, education, and/or their personal experiences in life which most women can talk about with ease. Connecting to the audience is a matter of deepening your relationship with them by sharing a relevant experience that makes them understand how strongly passionate you are about the topic and your opinion.

          Lois writes, "Women like to ask, what's new, what's up, what's hot?" instead of just telling their audience, "This gives the speaker an edge in understanding what's on people's minds so you can align your topic with their concerns before and during the speech." (p.62)

          "I've got two ears and one mouth, all the better to listen twice as much as I talk. Listening skills are essential to understand your audience and develop a compassionate understanding with "the group's predicament." (p.62.)

          Lois wants women to stop being "Ms.Nice-Gal." Stop speaking, as David Schnarch would say, in "the church-lady's voice." "Shock" your audience. Lois advises, with some attention-getting statistics. A light bulb needs to go off in the audience's mind. Ask them direct rhetorical questions that let them know the essence of the speech.

          To get to know my audience and get their attention, I always ask for raised hands in answer to my introductory questions, "What do you love about your work?" What do you love about running the business? What do you love about your income? What do you hate about it?" Usually I get laughter at this point, and then I know the audience is ready for me to start.

I went to the L.A. Chapter of the PCMA last month. The guest speaker was a very smart woman, Debra J. Land-grant who is a presentation coach ( debra@AuthenticallySpeaking.net ). She told us to watch our energy during a talk. If we start out with our elevator speech, we are to speak as if we were Oprah who just won her 7 th Daytime Emmy. We all practiced and the before-and after difference was remarkable.

Debra said that the key introductory mindset is not telling the audience "what" you're going to tell them, but:

  1. Tell them WHY you're going to tell them what you're going to tell them,
  2. Tell them
  3. Tell them why you told them.

All of this puts your speech into your personal, unique context that completely integrates your talk with who you are. And that, she informed us, is what they will remember. (In-person presentation, PCMA, 6-1-05 )

There are only so many numbers that an audience can absorb and hear in one sitting.the obligation and responsibility of the speaker is to convey the data that is essential and highlight the main points..After I speak people come up to me and for my stats (but) it wasn't really the stats I used, it was the context in which I presented them that gave significance and life to otherwise boring numbers ..Former EEO Director Ida Castro.(p.160. Women Seen and Heard)

We are acculturated to cultural strengths and weaknesses. Emotional intelligence (Daniel Gottman) explains that our strengths do not come from acting more like a man or a woman. In presentation it comes from placing high value in style and substance, form, and function.

Your strengths come out of your passion for the subject, audience, or just the fact that you get to speak and is delivered straight from your heart, out your mouth, and reflected in your body.

"Are women too modest?" Lois asks. (p.33). What if you can't or don't want to deliver in a bombastic style? Relating more closely to you audience by using your experiences to present your own strengths in order to find common ground with your audience.

"Former Governor Ann Richards," she writes, "has described the years after her divorce with disarming candor and humor. (" I smoked like a chimney and drank like a fish ," The Governor said.) p.67.

"Good speakers," Lois says, "aren't aloof." They have relationships with key people in all walks of life that help them talk wisely about the subject or the solution to problems.

Often this kind of speaker has a work life built on meaningful relationships that are supportive, strategic, and hold the speaker accountable. This in turn holds the speaker accountable to understanding the audience by warmly holding their experience as expertise also." (p.157).

Lois exhorts to use our intuition and instincts. A good speaker will not just shoot from the hip (as I love to do, I confess) but will prepare a structured and solid outline. In addition she will have five key points of the presentation prepared beforehand. Because of this format, she then is prepared to make a calculated risk to veer off the outline.

Maybe while giving the speech she instinctively picks up that the audience is bored or very interested in one point in particular. Maybe as the speaker you are relaxed enough to communicate with the audience at all levels and understand that they are really interested in another point altogether. This is when a good speaker takes a calculated risk "Show character," don't shoot from the hip," Debra Lindegren told us about taking risks.

The "womanly" way of intelligence rests on intuition, instincts, experience and relationships. This is just as credible as any other authoritarian style.

Lois point out, "A Los Angeles Times article discussing women's future as political leaders stated that there was consensus that women who didn't flinch from their "feminine" sensibilities will succeed in a time of cynicism about government." (p...73).

The whistle-blower profiles are beginning to be held in high-esteem. Many are women. (Consider Shareen Watkins of Enron who has become a very popular presenter about ethics). The "kitchen-table" commonsensical ways women "demystify" financial and statistical subjects are appreciated in our current climate. Many men and women speak of their "family values" however they truly come into focus when a speaker can bring the minutae of family life amidst the accountability that comes from valuable working relationships. Women speakers can often naturally fill this role. (p 73).

I just saw the documentary, "Enron, The Smartest Guys in the Room." If you work in, with, or on business, go see it. It will leave you speechless. Shareen Watkins has a lot to say.

Lessons from other chapters.

  1. Public Speaking presents unique challenges for women because it remains unusual to see women in top leadership positions and at the podium or microphone.
     
    "The woman speaker's job at the podium is not merely to plan and deliver her message effectively, but to realize that her "meta-message" if you will, is: "I am a capable leader." (p.39)
     
  2. Know yourself, be yourself.
    "The reel power of a presentation is how much of your whole self is sitting there-appropriately balanced, because it is an energy field. Those of us who speak well can stand up and speak well almost under any circumstances, but you know when you're really present..and there's an enormous difference." (p.95).
     
    Sample skill set:
    To make your speech particularly authentic to you, ask yourself these questions:
    "What do you personally know to be true because you're an insider? What new insights do you have? What stories and anecdotes can you share? What would surprise or inspire the audience? How can you convince the audience that their ignorance about this issue may be costly? How can you further enhance your knowledge to become even more of an expert on this issue ? (p.95).
     
  3. Shift from a subjective to a bold, strategic approach in planning your presentation.
    "Men are expected to be logical, whether or not they always are. As a woman, you must be strategic in demonstrating that you're a logical thinker. Your ideas must be easy to follow and hang together. You need to remain focused on the overarching topic with examples, quotes, statistics, and development of your various key points: (p.118).
     
    Sample skill set:
    "If you propose action, be direct about your proposal in a way that is easy to understand:
          What we need to now is to.If not, there are going to be three predictable consequences.
    Be logical in the way you present arguments and stay focused on your topic;
          When we discuss the impact of practice that produces pollution, we must consider air, land, as well as water .
    Be specific about your expertise and avoid modesty:
          I've spent two years in the field working with 300 clients and have learned five lessons that saved us millions. (p.124).
     
  4. Storytelling is an effective strategy for building a relationship with your audience.

"CEO Laura Groppe believes that men operate more on facts and less emotions than women do. If you agree, then your presentation to a male audience should emphasize the facts and rely less on personal anecdotes and emotional stories." On the other hand, "storytelling and emotional stories may be more effective influence-strategies for motivating female audience to take action." (p.154).

Sample skill set:
Stay in context no matter what and where your expertise and authority is and comes from.
Ask yourself- what does the audience want and need? How can you meet their needs?
Whom do you know in the group? Will they dish and how can that information help you connect to the group?
What are three specific benefits from listening to you, your stories, your facts, and your proposals? (p.157)

The Close: KNOW WHEN TO FOLD 'EM
"After two weeks, people only remember 7% of what you said," Debra Lindegren told us. So what do you hope people remember? If you're speaking politically or in a grassroots forum, you'll hope they remember the solution you proposed to the problem. So make sure you can say it in one sentence.

If you're speaking about your services and you want them to remember that they should call you, then they have to take away a piece of you. Offer something concrete like handouts or the professionally wrapped "World's Best Chocolate" with her web-site printed on it. Who doesn't like chocolate?

Have them take away the "feel" of you, what it was like to be in your presence. Hopefully it was a fun or invigorating or fascinating experience, unique to you.

Remember the song, "Take a Little Piece of My Heart Now, Baby! Sung by Janis Joplin? I can remember everything about her when I hear that one line in my mind.

Be Very Specific how your listeners can make use of you and when in their lives they will need you. Not your services, but You.. Don't talk about your fees or packages. Tell a success story. Let them leave thinking, "O.K., When I need _______________, I'll call (you)...

Show exactly who you really are, Debra told us. "Every presentation is a self-portrait of the one giving it." It is your presence and the relational connection that you make that can make a difference.

How Can I Miss You If You Won't Go Away?

Debra uses a model from Aristotle that shows the key secrets of persuasion. In it, she explained that
Oh I almost forgot... Leave them wanting a whole lot more!