Women in tech make up 28 percent of the workforce. By definition, that makes you special. Chances are that you didn’t fall into your job, and most likely you started your career journey because of a deep-seated interest in the field — and you still love it, or else why would you still be here? Who helped you along the way? Who was your role model? Who told you “yes – you can succeed in this field?” What triggered your journey on the tech path?
And if you did fall into tech — well, what an interesting story that must be. It’s a tale you’ve told many people — while interviewing, at dinner parties, or even chatting over coffee. Add into the mix the great amount of knowledge you’ve picked up along the way, garnered through years of study and experience, and you have a lot of information to impart as a woman in tech.
That’s interesting! You should share that passion. You should talk about that. In 2018, Bizzabo conducted a study that showed than more than two-thirds of all conference speakers were male. Today, many conferences are committing to gender balance, diversity, and inclusion. The conferences and events that serve the tech industry are looking for, you guessed it, women in tech.
Getting up to speak in front of an audience may seem daunting. But the odds are you’re already pretty good at it. You have given a presentation to colleagues in a meeting, or had to explain something you’ve been working on to a few people. This is a good foundation on which to build your public speaking ambition. All speaking is scalable. Take what you are already experienced in — whether presentations to customers, your team, your boss, the board, investors — and use the same tactics to speak to other audiences.
Just as your presentation experience is the first rung on the public speaking ladder, there are different levels of public speaking, and one that will suit you. Panels, for example, spread the work around a group and enrich the audience’s understanding through conversation. And there are even smaller groups — fireside chats — which is basically you and another person talking in front of an audience.
You are in charge of your subject matter. When you apply to a call for speakers, you will most likely be suggesting what you can offer in terms of content. When an event manager contacts you to discuss speaking at an event, you can can always say “no thanks” if it is not an area you feel comfortable speaking about, and suggest something else.
When you do get up on that stage and make your presence felt, you will be helping others. There may be those in the room who will have their biases challenged by having a knowledgeable woman presenting. You may be inspiring younger women to try out your field. Or other women in tech to get out there speaking. Parents may go home to their girls, telling them that they can do anything they want. All because they see you up there.
Conferences currently have a very visible gender disparity, and the whole female workforce will benefit from you taking to the stage. According to the World Economic Forum’s 2018 report on the Global Gender Gap, gender parity shifted into reverse in 2017 — and at the current rates, it will take 217 YEARS to end disparities in the pay and employment opportunities of men and women.
Not only is visibility key to shifting the makeup of the workforce, it is key to shifting your career into overdrive. Imagine a room full of your peers, listening to you give a presentation on your favorite tech, or engaging in a challenging discussion with fellow panel members. Your personal brand will soar.
Where are the opportunities?
There are 92,000 professional and business organizations in the US alone, and they are all easily accessible through web searches. You already know which organizations relate to your area of expertise. You also know that many of them run conferences – remember those flyers or emails you receive asking you to attend? Why not ask to speak instead of sitting in the audience?
Other speaking opportunities also exist – service clubs, chambers of commerce, colleges, unis and schools corporations and vendor events to speak at out there – 79% of brands say they will execute more events and programs in the future. The event industry is expected to continue to grow.
Speaking at conferences and events can be fulfilling. Choose a topic you are interested in, and prepare yourself fully. No one is expecting you to stand up without notes and slides and all the armor of preparation. You have several great presentation ideas. You are already passionate about what you do for a living, so concentrate on that.
Remember, you will most likely be talking to like-minded colleagues. They are interested in your field, but they may not have the same insights as you, and definitely don’t have the same experiences. Share them.
Want to kick off your speaking career? Join Innovation Women today and take advantage of all of our resources to help you get started!