If You’re A Woman With Something to Say, Speak Up, dammit

This was last week’s post on MidLife-Beauty. I’m posting it here because I think we need to read it again and again. I just came back from another women-centered conference and while the majority of the speakers would do the Toastmasters proud, there were a few who–well, I’m still not sure what they said.
public-speakingCan you write when you’re mad? I can’t. If I’m truly pissed, not mildly aggrieved, I can’t get past the uproar in my head to focus on anything else. And then, that makes me even madder.

I don’t get that angry very often. Fortunately. Today it’s just a concatenation of little annoyances that built one on top of the next to leave me feeling ambushed by a surge of fucking, weasel-pissing, goddamning frustration that is billed in neon in my mind as

I’m Not Getting Anything Done

I vented to a friend and felt better for about two seconds. Maybe I need a bigger audience for my vent.

I’m Now Venting:

I spent the past day and a half at a conference of sorts for women interested in being entrepreneurs. The first half day was pretty good. The organizer, who is a brand name speaker, was dynamic. She had lots to say and said it well. I took notes. I felt jazzed. I went home enthused about what day two would bring.

Day Two was a major disappointment. Major.

Part of it was that my entrepreneurial intentions have nothing to do with a retail product. Thus, the advice from successful marketers of tea bags or baby towels mean nothing to me.

Part of it was that my years online mean I couldn’t benefit from the Intro to Social Media 101 approach that the speakers took. I was the wrong audience.

But a large part of it–and my anger right now–has to do with this: Goddamit, women, speak up. Enough with the wispy voice. It may have been attractive in the days of crinolines, but today, it’s standing in the way of people taking you seriously.

If what you’re saying is worth saying–and you mean it–say it loud and proud. Try to get your voice down a register. Know that Minnie Mouse and Betty Boop are not good role models in this regard.

And if you’re looking to be an entrepreneur, particularly one who speaks at meetings and conferences, take a public speaking course. Join Toastmasters. Get a coach.

Do not stand in front of a roomful of people and low-talk your way through your presentation. Do not hold the microphone near your mouth and then keep turning your head from side to side away from it. Do not be afraid of the mic: it’s your friend, because it’s the reason your audience can hear your pearls of wisdom.

Creating an intimate relationship between you and your audience cannot be done at the same decibel level that you normally speak. The trick is to give the illusion that you are speaking personally and only to each and every person present, but to do it so that she or he in the far reaches of the room can clearly hear every word you’re saying.

It’s called projection. It’s how actors make their lines heard in the back of the second balcony. It’s a technique that anyone can learn.

Why does this make me so mad? Because we women do ourselves such a disservice when we don’t take seriously how we actually sound. The timbre of one’s voice conveys a lot of non-verbal information that affects how we’re perceived, judged and rewarded for our efforts. Speak softly and it can come across as hesitant, unsure, fearful. Voice a complaint or negative comment in anything but a straightforward manner and it can come across as whining.

Yes, yes,, I know that these are epithets that have historically been applied to women to reduce their effectiveness. I can just see that commenter who tells me I’m buying into the male-dominated version of the world. I look at it, rather, as buying into reality as it exists right now. Maybe years down the road, our culture will have evolved to the point that Minnie Mouse will be a voice of authority. But right now is what we’re dealing with.

Right now, we need to say what we mean and say it loud and proud.


Photo credit: Publicspeakingsuperpowers.com



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