Getting more women on the podium

Australian Women in Security Network

Getting more women on the podium

Author – Catherine McGrath

Getting more women on-the-podium at conferences & events Catherine McGrath founder of #WomenSpeaking workshops$200 discount per full price ticket for AWSN members email Catherine for the code or direct payment.

Seeing women at the forefront of public discourse is essential to gender equity. For AWSN members I pose these questions: are you seeing women at the front of your industry? 

  • Are they visible? 
  • Are senior women leading national debates, speaking at conferences, being quoted in newspapers and are they CEOs and senior managers?

The answer is suspect is ‘yes but not enough’. 

In this, the cybersecurity sector is like many others. Change is happening, but it is patchy and not everyone has the voice or the opportunity to speak. Many women feel dis-empowered as they try to advance their careers without enough professional support.

I know how you feel. I have recently moved from a 30-year career as a leading broadcaster in television and radio (as a foreign correspondent and political reporter for ABC & SBS). I have had to build my own confidence as a speaker through hard work, training and practical experience. It wasn’t easy. But I did it.

Now beyond journalism my work is as a keynote speaker/MC and communications trainer. I had to teach myself to feel confident in front of a live conference audience. This is different to a TV audience that you can’t see. A thousand sets of eyes on you at an event can be confronting.

Now beyond journalism my work is as a keynote speaker/MC and communications trainer. I had to teach myself to feel confident in front of a live conference audience. This is different to a TV audience that you can’t see. A thousand sets of eyes on you at an event can be confronting.

My callout is to ask you to push your organisations & businesses to support you in speaker training. It is essential to building your professional skill base.

At a recent business event I hosted, questions from the floor included no questions from women. At some business events, this is not unusual. The male attendees were quick to raise their hand, one even jumped to his feet before the microphone reached him.Other women tell me there is a simple reason for this. Many don’t feel supported enough in these environments many others don’t feel they have the skill set required. Some events seem like a male-only club.

Hats off to those women who have no trouble speaking and asking questions at conferences. You are our role models. We need more of you.

Women: our time is here but still there are too few of us speaking at conferences, events and workplace meetings. Too few of us are visible as leaders. That means our contribution as professional women isn’t being equally recognised.

Training in this area is crucial. Many of us don’t feel confident enough to speak or present in front of others. Speaking is a professional skill, as important as knowing some accounting, some law, some occupational health and safety rules etc.

If you are terrified or reluctant? You are not alone. The good news is that help is here! With help and training, you can develop the confidence to say yes to that next offer to present at a conference or event.

We, as women, have great abilities and knowledge and we should share that.

At professional panels, many of us would love to see more women up there. We would love to join in ourselves.

We need to grow the skill base for professional women so that more of us feel ready and able to take to the podium.No professional women who is a nervous speaker would want to put their hand up to speak in front of other professionals unless they feel prepared and ready.

I have launched training for this specific purpose. I believe women need more support. We need an opportunity to practice and train in a safe environment, in a setting away from the judgement and expectations of others. We need time to learn.

WomenSpeaking workshops in Sydney and Canberra provide a cost-effective one-day training where groups of professional women can learn and develop the skills they need.Ask your organisations to send you.

Women from many different sectors come along. We have had a lot of attendees from STEM professions.

In workshops we break up into small groups where you get individual attention from experts including myself, an actor/voice coach, a TV/stage presence specialist and a writer/editor. 

Attendees get strategic and practical support in speech writing and presentation skills. There is specialist voice training and on-the-podium practice with a microphone. How does it feel to stand on a stage say your name and look out at an audience? It can be scary but practice in a real or simulated environment is the way to reduce the fear.

This is what our attendees say ‘‘I walked out a different person equipped with knowledge, skills, confidence & a tool-kit to keep me going on my journey.’

‘I only wish I’d done this 10 years ago so that I could have realised the value and satisfaction in communicating my voice.’

‘WomenSpeaking is more than training. It is a supportive network that empowers you to step into your own skin and be confident. Highly recommend.’

Inquiries: catherine@catherinemcgrathmedia.com.au