Research shows that having confidence still remains an important, though elusive, characteristic for many women seeking promotions in the workplace? A recent article by FORTUNE  reporting on the findings of a study conducted by KPMG,  revealed that 63% of respondents cited confidence as a top characteristic of leaders, but 6 out of 10 women said they find it hard to see themselves as leaders.

One respondent was quoted to say, “I wish I would have learned to be confident and stand up for my beliefs. Just to never be afraid of what others think.”  The solution to helping women prepare for and do well in leadership positions was in making training more accessible. In particular, Debbie Messemer (@DebbieMessemer), reflecting back on her career, said that there was a time that she knew she had the experience and attributes to be successful in (leadership ) roles but lacked the confidence to raise her hand to be considered for them. She went on to say that, 

“Having access to positive role models, who exemplified how I should look and act, and leadership training that included effective public speaking (as an introvert, this was particularly important for my development,) helped bolster my confidence to lean in and ask for these leadership roles.”Woman walking head down

 

Are you a woman in leadership? Or do you aspire to advance in your career or business endeavour as a woman entrepreneur? I want to encourage you to seek out leadership training, and in particular, seek ways  to intentionally develop your public speaking skills. The survey also concluded that 8 out 10 of the working women believe that networking with other women leaders  will help them advance in their career. Networking is said to be most beneficial when you hang out with women who are already doing what you want to do, or have skills that you can learn from . That way you will always be challenged and inspired to move forward and upward.

I can certainly relate to how these women felt. In the past, I have found myself in situations where I knew I was qualified to do the job or take on the responsibility , but lacked the confidence to go for it.  Often, it’s because we are unsure that we have “permission” from those in authority , unsure they believe in us. May sound strange but that is the kind of self-talk that can sabotage your success . Are you looking for a place to receive training in public speaking skills? A place where you can connect with other women leaders in a safe , growing environment, and where you can develop your communication skills?

Perhaps you need  a community to cheer  you on towards increased confidence and give feedback so you can speak with greater clarity.  That’s exactly why I created The  Emerging Women Speakers Academy™ !    Woman talking in small group

The definition of the word “Confidence” comes from its root words that mean “with faith”.  Do you have faith that who you are is enough? Do you trust that as you step forward you will have everything you need to accomplish the tasks? As you seek to build your confidence, beware of the 5 biggest thieves that seek to sabotage your success by stealing your confidence. They are:

  1. People’s opinion. No matter what you do or say, there will always be people who try to discourage you and see life through a negative lens. Two of the best ways to protect yourself from their deflating words is to either avoid them all together or decide to “press delete” so their  words don’t even have a chance to root in your heart.
  2. Unclear purpose. If you are not sure what  your purpose  is in life or in stepping out in an area, then any challenge will rattle your confidence. Get clear on your purpose and watch how it affects your confidence.
  3. Lack or preparation.  When it comes to public speaking, many people think that “winging it” may portray you as more competent. However, many people don’t realize  that those who can “wing it” the best are actually the most prepared. They don’t just get ready but stay ready for opportunities that come their way. They are always prepared which makes it easy for them to pull out of their toolbox something to say when asked on the spur of the moment. Research has shown that preparation is not just a good idea- it is a great way to build your confidence.
  4. Perfectionism. I am a recovering perfectionist. It started when I was a teenager when I became obsessed about my appearance  and looking thin. This lead to destructive habits of control, denial and an eating disorder. It was only years later that I realized that attaining perfection is an impossibility. It’s alright to aim for perfection, but be willing to settle for excellence. This applies in public speaking as well. Trying to give a perfect presentation is the biggest hindrance to connecting with any audience.  Value progress over perfection. Shaking free of perfectionism is hard, but possible. It will require courage and action to step forward and be willing to put yourself (or your marketing) out there as done even if its not perfect! Try it!! Not only will you experience new levels of personal freedom, but your confidence will actually increase (even when you don’t get it right all the time.)
  5. Practicing wrong things. You have heard the cliche, that “practice makes perfect”. Well there is some truth to that, unless you are practicing the wrong habits. For example, a young man asked his mentor how he could connect better with his audiences when speaking. The mentor suggested he always start his messages with a joke. Well, humor is a great way to connect with people, however not if it is forced or inserted without any relevance to the main theme of the message. A more effective way is to practice “uncovering” humor in the message or situation you find yourself , so it becomes more organic and much more entertaining. Practice does make a better presentation- only if you are practicing the right things. As you become more aware of the habits you need to replace so that  you can be more effective  as a communicator , your confidence will strengthen as you discover new ways of connecting and impacting your audience.

 

Value what you have to give, the combination of education, trainings, experience, personality and talent. It is your unique contribution to the world so offer it with confidence and assurance that someone somewhere is needing to hear what you have to say – and waiting for you to speak.  Step forward with confidence and embrace life fully engaged!

 

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Lisa Vanderkwaak coaches women leaders on how to improve their public speaking skills so that they can lead with greater confidence, clarity and impact!!

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