Suzanne Doyle-Morris writes:
While stereotypes abound about “chatty women”, very few are actually comfortable speaking in front of an audience – where it really counts.
Get in the habit of speaking up and then leading meetings, offering to make presentations about your team’s work to other divisions, letting your boss know you’d like to speak at industry events.
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Think about it: who gets credit for a new client win? The person who stayed until 11pm working on the PowerPoint slides or the person who presented it all the next morning?
Eileen Brown, social media expert and formerly the most senior technical woman at Microsoft UK, explained: “When I first started in IT, I was asked to lead a training workshop in Windows 3.11. My boss watched and said I was terrible, to which I retorted that I’d never had any training!
She sent me on a course, which was a complete epiphany. I’d been using aggressive body language like standing over people and getting too close. After the course I adapted my style and got rave reviews.
It made me realise how vital these skills were and how different presenting to ten people was to an audience of a thousand… but what was vital was that I was able to synthesise and simplify technical language to a wider audience, and build rapport simultaneously.”
Plus, being a techie who can engage both technical and non-technical audiences is a rare gift – and one that will get you noticed.
As discussed in Beyond the Boys’ Club: Strategies for Achieving Career Success as a Woman Working in a Male Dominated Field, ask for presentation skills training, or invest in your own through Toastmasters. Just showing willingness will help others start to think of you as a potential presenter, which could come in handy the next time your boss needs to deputise or ask you to present your work at an event.
Suzanne Doyle-Morris is the author of Beyond the Boys’ Club: Strategies for Achieving Career Success as a Woman Working in a Male-dominated Field.
Suzanne’s next virtual career development ‘bootcamp’ runs in March.