How to Rock the Floor:
Stepping Forward & Being Visible
Have you ever found yourself thinking, “I don’t know enough about this topic” or “I don’t have enough public speaking experience”? Have you ever experienced difficulties aligning your personal life with participation in events, noticed that you receive fewer speaking invitations compared to your male colleagues or have even been interrupted by a male colleague while speaking on a panel? If yes, then this ‘how to’ toolkit on stepping forward and being visible is for you!
Did you know that Journalists are looking for…
Did you know that Event Organisers are looking for…
Meeting the expectations and demands to have your voice platformed and heard is not always an easy task; however, there are a number of things you can do to build up your confidence and profile. Check the 8 tips and tricks:
01 Don’t be afraid to speak up for yourself (men do it all the time!)
Have an opinion, have questions, make comments and don’t be afraid to share them on social media, in meetings or events. That way you get recognised by event organisers and journalists who will more likely remember you for their next event or media interview.
top tip : If you get nervous or feel that you’re inexperienced, try to be the first to ask a question to avoid feeling intimidated by others questions.
02 Think about strategic self-marketing for the long-term: where do I want visibility?
Choose receptions, networks, events, publishing outlets and organisations carefully as you are afterall a human with limited time and energy. However, you should be prepared to sometimes attend events and meetings, if only to speak up and be recognised, even though the format/speakers are not the most stimulating or if timing isn’t great. It is worth the effort to be seen.
top tip : Always remain true to yourself and be authentic!
03 Build informal networks and peer groups with other women.
Network building with other women – whether at work, in your sector or policy area – can be a great way to support each other and amplify each other’s voices in your shared common spaces. You may actually become good friends with some of them.
top tip : Check out our other toolkit ‘Better Together: Strategic Network Building for Women & Initiatives’ for more specific tips on this topic.
04 Build your social proof:your opinion counts.
Remember that you bring added value. Share your knowledge and take stances – show why you are unique and can add quality content. By doing so, you can be the one setting trends and influencing your field of expertise.
top tip : Inspiring and confident people attract others to them, so don’t be afraid to shine!
05 Find safe spaces to practice public speaking.
Volunteering to moderate, lead or facilitate meetings and events will provide you with good practice for speaking in front of people. You’ll first learn how to be confident in your voice, intonations, to make arguments, structure presentations, etc. Soon enough you’ll be comfortable to be asked to speak on panels.
top tip : A good place to start practicing public speaking is somewhere familiar and small e.g. at work, among friends or volunteer activities.
06 Enable others.
When organising debates, pay attention to diversity and inclusion – do not organise or participate in manels! If you are a moderator, cut off panelists who take up too much speaking time and make sure that you take questions from a diversity of people from the audience.
top tip : Being a good moderator will get you remembered for other events and will increase your chances of being invited as a speaker.
07 Be pro- and re-active!
If you see an event that you would like to speak at, research the organisers and themes, and simply send a proposal to speak. There is nothing wrong with a self-invitation.
top tip : Don’t hesitate to use your network to get speaking referrals.
08 Get training, mentoring, sponsoring!
We can always do it with a little help from others. Getting a coach to work on speaking is a great way to invest in yourself. Seeking a mentor or sponsor from a senior colleague can bring an array of benefits to your professional development through their knowledge, contacts and information.
top tip : Remember that mentorships can be a two-way street, you can also share your knowledge and experiences too!
References and further readings
“Stand Out” by Dorie Clark
The Media Coach – “7 tips for appearing more authoritative as a woman”
“Call for speakers” as the only or predominantly way of selecting the speakers
Forbes: The Confidence Gap In Men And Women: Why It Matters And How To Overcome It
#IamRemarkable workshops by Google
Catalyst Report: The Myth of the Ideal Worker: Does Doing All the Right Things Really Get Women Ahead?
All You Ever Wanted to Know About Promoting Yourself by Erin Risner
8 Important Things Successful Women in Marketing Do by Bob Van Rossum
Forbes: Women And The Art Of Self-Marketing
Forbes: Four Ways To Help Emerging Women Self-Promote
TEDWomen: Sheryl Sandberg on why we have too few women leaders
CIO: How to network: 17 tips for shy people
Women of Influence: White Paper on Solutions to Women’s Advancement
Forbes: Five Steps To Ace A Panel Presentation
Forbes: How To Tell A Good Story
Harvard Business Review: How To Moderate a Panel Like a Pro
Open Society Foundation: An End to Manels: Closing the Gender Gap at Europe’s Top Policy Events
Why I Get Invited to Speak at Events (And How You Can Too) by Rohit Bhargava
- Roisin Duffy (Ireland/Women on Air)
- Corinna Horst (Belgium/The Brussels Binder)
- Scarlett Varga (Belgium/The Brussels Binder)
- Pavlina Janebova (Czech Republic/Association for International Affairs);
- Barbara Krajnc (Slovenia, Aurora Borealis Consulting);
- Venera Djumataeva (Czech Republic/Radio Free Europe);
- Zuzana Stuchlikova (Czech Republic/Belgium/Europeum);
- Tereza Kunertova (Czech Republic/Women in Law);
- Nina Pejič (Gender Equality Research Institute/Slovenia)
Dive into the toolkits
This toolkit aims to provide practical advice to men in how to be an ally to promote women’s voices as an individual, event participant, moderator and organiser.
This toolkit provides tips and advice for women experts on stepping forward and being visible at events and media interviews.
This toolkit provides practical advice strategic network building for women but also for women-led initiatives on how to build synergies and collaborations.
This toolkit is designed to help you think about diversity from all angles when you are organising a public debate, both online and offline.
This toolkit provides practical advice at improving gender balance at conferences as well as countering excuses for manel debates.
This toolkit aims to provide practical advice to journalists on how to make the media more inclusive as well as provide tips to women experts on engaging with the press.