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Empowering Women in Their Public Appearances


Power and Presence for Women from JD Lasica on Vimeo.

“I’ve always felt speaking is crucial in terms of strengthening relationships and ideas you might have online, offline. BlogWorld has definitely helped bridge that gap, bringing together prominent personalities and creators I might already know or haven’t had the ability to meet.” – Shira Lazar (past BlogWorld Speaker)

I’ve been amazed by how many of my friends and colleagues have thrust themselves into the public eye by writing books, appearing on panels or going full tilt into public speaking. I’ve even detected an uptick (finally!) in the number of women appearing on stage at tech conferences.

I’ve spoken at my fair share of public events, and what we often have in common is an uncertainty of how to engage the audience with command and assurance. That’s especially true of many women, who’ve been taught by the culture to prize “false power archetypes” rather than being true to their own voices, says Bronwyn Saglimbeni, a public presence coach in Silicon Valley.

“As women, we need to come up with our new power archtetypes,” she said at a recent Girls in Tech retreat in Santa Cruz, Calif. “Unfortunately we’ve been fed a steady diet of false power archtetypes — aggression, intimation, or leaning too heavily on our sexuality, or hiding behind our sexuality.”

Saglimbeni offers coaching on speaking, presenting and how to attain “true power.” “It happens when personality aligns with purpose to serve the greater good,” she says. “Where does the purpose of our work life and personal life intersect? During public speaking, what are the elements of our personality that need to be brought forward? Every time we have an opportunity to get up and speak, we have to really cherish that time and nail it.”

Watch, download or embed the video on Vimeo, or Watch the video on YouTube

Common mistakes in public appearances

Body language and posture often an issue for speakers. “Often we’ll hold our hands in front of our bodies, or we hold them behind our backs, or in front of our mouths — and the problem is those are not powerful positions,” she says. “The other thing I see is that people tend to get very serious when they take the stage. … We need to let go a little bit and have fun!”

Women often find themselves perplexed on how to behave in a largely male corporate setting. Says Saglimbeni: “If it’s a very serious board room filled with male executives, you can meet them there. But you can also establish credibility and start injecting a little bit more of yourself. Room reading skills are very important. It helps you tailor your message, know when you’re losing people, and know when you’re got ’em.”

Her firm Bronwyn Communications works with corporate clients to improve their public speaking and media relations skills. But any Blogworld Expo speaker can pick up a few tips by watching the video at top.

JD Lasica, a blogger since 2001, is founder of Socialmedia.biz, a leading social media consultancy, and Socialbrite.org, social tools for social change. Follow him on Twitter at @jdlasica, or contact him at jd@socialmedia.biz.

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