April 30, 2010

Tips on how women can attain ‘true power’ on stage


Power and Presence for Women from JD Lasica on Vimeo.

Speakers get guidance on how to enhance their public appearances

JD LasicaI‘ve been astonished 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 a small 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 public speakers 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.

“We’ll hold our hands in front of our bodies, or behind our backs, or in front of our mouths — and the problem is those are not powerful positions.”
— Bronwyn Saglimbeni

“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.”

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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.

Cross-posted to the Blogworld Expo blog.

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JD Lasica, founder of Socialmedia.biz, is now co-founder of the cruise discovery engine Cruiseable. See his About page, contact JD or follow him on Twitter or Google Plus.

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  • THanks for posting this, JD! I forgot to cite who's quote that “Power: It happens when personality aligns with purpose…” It is from none other than Oprah Winfrey herself. :) Just wanted to clarify.