The Times, The Telegraph and Radio Four's Today all reported last week that brides are no longer leaving it up to the groom, best man and dad to speak post-rubber-chicken at their wedding (goat's cheese and red onion tart for vegetarians). Excellent: why should it only be the men who feel queasy over dinner and deliver the dodgy internet jokes that offend fortunately pissed relatives?
This was reported on the same day that Mark Carney said the lack of women in senior poisitions in his new place of work- some kind of a Bank- was a bit odd and the cause of all our global financial ills. (I am paraphrasing here, but you get the drift). And then we had the vile twitter abuse of Jane-Austen-face-on-a-tenner campaigner Caroline Croado-Perez, and other women, by men. Most of these eejits need to step away from the keyboard and get out more and some need to be locked up.
A few months before all of this Kissing With Confidence held a Women Talk Event, delivered by Nicola Denegri. Over one hundred delegates attended to chew the fat about women in business. Nicky is doing some terrific work on what she terms self-limiting beliefs: dealing with personal gremlins; developing your brand; being visible and effective in networks; getting, or being, a mentor. Of course this stuff has been around forever and I have been working it with both genders for over two decades. But it is front of mind right now and as I scan Nicky's notes from her session there are half a dozen references that have hit the press in the past few months.
One that caught my eye was Helena Morrisey, CEO of Newton Asset Management and co-founder of the 30% Club, saying that women will often "hold themselves back" even when adequately qualified while men tend to say "yes, I can do this" and push themselves forward. I am no expert in this area and a bloke opening on it can quickly get into treacherous water, even if he thinks he has impeccable feminist credentials and has only just rolled up his trousers for a paddle. But allow me to dip in my toe, in an area where I have a bit of form... Pitching, presenting and public speaking.
We have recently collated the many questionnaires from delegates on public speaking and pitching programmes we have gathered over the years with a view to analysing what they say. I have just received the raw data and am sure will publish an interesting White Paper when I get to the nitty-gritty. The sample size is about 500 and delegates range from managers to directors across a range of business sectors. The most obvious thing to note at first glance, though, is that in ten out of eleven quantatitive questions- a number circled on a five point scale- men believe they have less difficulty than women.
I have no real clue yet how statistically significant the difference will be but I do know that this confirms my own assessment: that there are a lot of men who think they are good presenters (and funny into the bargain) and many women who think they are not (and not funny, definitely not funny). The paper will be published as soon as I can get it all together but for now that statistic is an interesting one in the current context of women in business.
The single question where women had less difficulty than men? Keeping to time. So ladies, get up there and do the Bride Speech at your nuptuals if it takes your fancy, but consider two things: be first or last up, don't get lost in the middle; and always leave the audience wanting more. Keep a close eye your timing and know that an authentic, humorous and heartfelt five minutes will turn out to be ten if they laugh at the funny bits and cry at the sad bits.
PS... For the record, Nicola Denegri is a very good presenter. And very, very funny.
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Russell Wardrop is our Chief Executive. If you would like to know more about this subject, drop him an email and we will be in touch.