Why Women Need to Speak Up in the Boardroom

Returning from Qatar after delivering a public speaking programme to an executivewomen’s team, I can really see that there is a huge amount of untapped talent just waiting outside the boardroom door and yet we see that their actual
representation around the table, is very low.

According to Shamsa Saleh, CEO of Dubai Women’s Establishment, the UAE female participation in the public sector is recorded at over 50 per cent with a 22 per cent of
women presence in the boards’ positions. But their presence is quite low when
it comes to the private sector at 1.5 per cent only.

It doesn’t mean that women are unable or don’t have the skills to compete in a
man’s world, particularly in the Middle East, but there are still many challenges along the way.

There are many factors that may contribute to this but the one that I focused on
within this women’s executive team programme, were their public speaking

Overcoming the ‘fear factor’ is not difficult but it takes tenacity and a determination
that will persuade others of your opinions.

So below are some the key learning points that came from this programme which I
believe should be of great interest to all of my readers, both male and female.

Start a presentation with the end in mind:
When you create your presentation, think about exactly what you want your
audience to remember when they have finished hearing you speak.

First impressions are everything:  Your first 5 minutes are vital to your
presentation as you need to engage with your audience immediately to get them
on board.

Tell a story to illustrate your point! However your story has to be meaningful so that your audience can immediately see its purpose and reason for telling it.

Little is more:  Don’t fall into the ‘death by PowerPoint’ trap.  We all know that this programme is very impressive but take care not to have too much text on any one slide.

Don’t just read from the slides:  Your audience can also read but they came to
hear you speak!

Never walk in front of the screen whilst showing a slide:  Buy a remote control
that has a ‘blank screen’ button so that you can turn off the screen while you
are talking and in that way you will bring the audience back to looking at you
and not the screen.

Speak with passion: Your energy is contagious and people will listen to you more effectively when they can see you are talking from the heart and really mean what you say.

Use frequent pauses when speaking: These are vital to add ‘weight’ to your message. Many speakers never stop for breath and never give their audience a
chance to digest what they have said before they go too quickly onto the next

Body language and voice tone:  Look around your whole audience and engage
with everyone.  Whether it is a boardroom table or an auditorium, make sure you connect with each and every person around the room.

Be ready to manage difficult questions because they will come!  You need to know
your subject well and to listen carefully to what is being asked, then deal
with it accordingly – or you may decide to have a one-to-one conversation after
the presentation.

Whatever your subject, love what you do!  If you love what you do, it will be
obvious to your audience and you will hold their attention.

Make sure you issue a ‘call to action’ at the end of your presentation regarding the message you wish to deliver. Make it clear that your audience knows exactly what action they are going to take.

Start and finish on time!  It’s as simple as that!  Don’t become known for going over time as you won’t be invited back to speak!

Be authentic!  Be who you are and be known for what it is that you stand.

Using this guidance, you can become a professional speaker and with that comes personal growth, respect and being known as an expert in your field.

One of my aims is certainly to get more women into the Boardroom and as a speaker
coach, if you need any help along the way, then do get in touch.

Good luck!

Key Points

  • Public speaking skills are vital
  • First impressions are everything
  • Whatever your subject, love what you do.

Reprinted with the kind permission of Gulf News

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