Have you sat in an audience, listening to a speaker and thought “If HE can get hired to speak, what the heck am I doing??”
I kick myself a little when I watch speakers take the stage who:
- know less than me
- have weak delivery skills
- haven’t mastered the basics of effective public speaking
Why are they on stage and not me? … Simple. They are far better at The Art of Self-Promotion!
YES! There is an ART to Self-Promotion. There’s a very fine line between your promotion making you desirable or repulsive. This line is even more fine for women than for men.
Say what you want about men and women being equal, but consider this: Boys are brought up to fight for position. To get noticed and get ahead in life, they have to “toot their own horn” (brag). We almost expect them to be overly self-promoting. In more simple times men were known to “peacock” (shamelessly flaunt their greater physical assets) to gain admiration and acceptance of society and potential life partners.
When women “toot their own horn”, they risk harsher labels from both men AND their fellow women. In fact, fellow women catch a whiff of one of their own kind purposefully (or accidentally) flaunting in a way that makes her appear more desirable, and look out!
One minute you’re promoting yourself to get an opportunity to speak to larger audiences; the next minute you are isolated, ostracized, without a clue of what just happened. You won’t receive the honest feedback you need. The silence will be deafening. That’s one reason why even GREAT woman speakers don’t last.
How do you promote yourself to gain greater opportunities, without turning people against you?
It’s not easy. Let’s look at three famous women who pushed through the self-promotion barriers and survived… but not without harsh criticism:
- Oprah Winfrey – Pushed past personal adversity (abuse, rough start in life) to go on to University. She hosted her own TV show at the age of 22 and grew her audience through her warm and open interview style. Nine years later, after being recruited to an even greater talk-show host opportunity, Oprah gained National recognition for an acting role in the Colour Purple, used that fame to continue to propel an even greater talk show idea … and create an empire.
- Eleanor Roosevelt – had a tragic start in life, losing both parents before she turned 11. She was shy, unattractive, and married her cousin … who grew into a great man of influence. In his corner, Eleanor fed him issues that truly mattered, and he made a difference as President of the United States. After Franklin D. Roosevelt’s death, Eleanor went on to be Chair of the UN Human Rights Commission and a sought after voice of reason, brilliance and humanity. Her voice is greatly missed.
- Ellen DeGeneres – has endured endless public backlash and three years where the phone didn’t ring, but still stands as a sought after speaker. She stumbled across a way to overcome the fear of public speaking – humour – and received offers to do stand-up comedy in her early 20’s. At 19, she dreamed of being on Johnny Carson’s “Tonight Show”. Years later she was and, carried by her natural wit through talk-show after talk-show opportunity, the rest is history.
Check the list of “who’s who” in the world of woman speakers, there are very few who have lasted the test of time and public criticism.
Common to all three of the above women:
- Very intelligent and quick minded
- Great listeners
- Open about their own shortcomings, insecurities and humble beginnings
We promote women who make us feel good about ourselves, when we feel inspired, not threatened or insecure by their knowledge and their stories. And that, my friends, is your key to walking that fine Self-Promotion line successfully.
In every conversation, interaction or speech you have from now on, focus on making others feel good about themselves and their future.
“It’s never about you”
~ authentic Carol Carterism #17
When you take the time to lift others up, they will celebrate your success and lift you further.
“At the end of the day people won’t remember what you said or did, they will remember how you made them feel.” ~ Maya Angelou
It’s time to stop being the best kept secret on the speaker circuit and start promoting yourself. Yes, the public may take swings at you or try to “bring you down a notch”. Keep lifting them up and making them feel good about who they are and what they can do. YOU just may weather that test of time.