Why business women need better stage presence

11 Dec

If you’ve been to any conferences lately, chances are you won’t have seen many women on stage participating in panel debates, doing presentations, or sharing their wisdom.

This is a generalisation, of course, but let’s look at one specific industry sector: travel. It has a lot of women working in it, and yet the lack of female presence on stage at this Autumn’s Travel Convention in Malta, the conference for travel body ABTA, was noted and commented on.

Is it that women just don’t put themselves forward for high-profile presentations and panels? Or is it that they don’t get asked?

Either way, the Association of Women Travel Executives (AWTE), the professional body for senior women in travel, is taking matters into its own hands. A year on from running its Boardroom Ready project, which seeks to equip senior women with the skills and confidence to secure non-executive directorships, its focus for 2011 will be on Women to the Podium. This is an initiative that will help source senior, successful, experience women from the AWTE membership to present and participate at industry events (in travel or otherwise). In addition, the AWTE has resources within its membership to help women raise their game and boost their presentation skills and confidence.

Introducing the Women to the Podium scheme, AWTE chair Karen Ramirez said: “Many of you will have seen the comments on various social networking sites, blogs and other media about the lack of women on the podium at various events. I’m not going to suggest more diversity sessions – there’s enough information in the form of reports, media discussions and other people’s events that have already proved the point. What I will say is if you would like more women presenting and on panels, AWTE would be delighted to help you source appropriate senior women with relevant experience in your subject to contribute to your events.”

AWTE chair Karen Ramirez (L) and millionaire property investor Caroline Marsh (R)

Putting its money where its mouth is, the AWTE invited Caroline Marsh, the millionaire property investor who appeared on Channel 4’s The Secret Millionaire, to be the guest speaker at its Christmas Lunch.

When I see a successful businesswoman take to the stage, I want to hear how she overcame adversity to achieve her success, how she recognised her entrepreneurial spirit and turned an idea into a business – and, after accomplishing her initial aims, what she plans to do next. I want to know the inside story of how she’s made it.

Caroline gave all of that in her speech, sharing her inspiring story, from her early life in Zambia to beating 5000 applicants to become a crew member on the Zambian Express airline, to marrying and moving to England and making her first million in property investment.

But it was The Secret Millionaire experience – where Caroline mentored and supported a community project in the socially disadvantaged area of Toxteth – that made her realise that people need more than handouts. They need support and encouragement in order to start believing in, and making something of, themselves. “You never know who you throw the seedling to, and who they might become,” said Caroline.

Support and mentoring from like-minded and experienced peers can help women excel in whatever their walk of life. And if the AWTE’s new initiative, and others like it, help women boost their stage presence, that’ll be a performance worth applauding.

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One Response to “Why business women need better stage presence”

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  1. Tweets that mention Why business women need better stage presence « womaneer -- Topsy.com - 14/12/2010

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Lizzie Heffer, Lingo Communications. Lingo Communications said: Why business women need better stage presence: http://t.co/tWJthyu […]

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