Here are some tactics from Zena Everett to help you find your inner Peggy Olsen.
A new global survey of women working in technology by IT software specialist Ivanti has found that 63 per cent of women feel gender bias undermines their work environments. They report daily frustrations like being constantly interrupted in meetings and having their suggestions dismissed. These are a hefty road-block to female career progression:
Our voices aren’t heard so we aren’t the obvious choice for new challenging projects that would expand our skills and expertise.
We aren’t developing our brand in meetings so get less access to senior leaders who could give our careers a leg-up.
We get more push-back than men when we come up with ideas, particularly when they are more creative and left-field options that aren’t the standard or obvious solution.
As an Executive Coach, author of Career Manual Mind Flip: Reinvent your Future and speaker on Crazy Busy™, Zena Everett gives you some tactics to seize the power at meetings:
- Don’t waste your seat at the table. Do your homework and ensure you can add value to the discussion. Then make your points out loud to show you are confident, prepared and engaged.
- Drop your tone of voice. Take a (subtle) deep breath so you don’t sound shrill or squeaky. It’s too easy to be written off as emotional if you hit a high note. And keep your voice on an even level.
- Don’t let your body language betray your nerves. Make eye contact, nod encouragingly at other speakers, keep your hands on the table. No phones or laptops to distract you.
- Dress the part, look the part, sound the part. You aren’t in the room as a woman/working Mum/part-time carer/whatever. I’m afraid no one really cares about your back story. You are there as a top performer in your job description. Dial up your very best executive presence and make the most of the opportunity.
- Sit in the eye-line of the person who has the influence (that’s not necessarily the Chair).
Know your audience. Align your priorities with those of the leadership. Make sure you focus on the agenda items that will give you the most visibility/kudos.
- Use meetings as an opportunity to emphasize your achievements. Ensure your name is all over any reports you prepare or presentations you make.
- Never start a presentation or statement with a self-deprecating comment or apology. It’s not a Ted talk audition, so no need to feel performance anxiety. Just state your point.
- Control the agenda with leadership techniques. For example ‘let’s just take step back here, what other facts do we need to ensure we can make a decision?’ Particularly effective if the real Chair allows waffle.
- Focus on your high-level skills. Promoting yourself as a note-taker, coffee-pourer, cup-clearer is not career enhancing.
- Control your own meetings. Keep them focused and tight and never, ever, over-run. Set an alarm so you finish on time.
- Regardless of whether or not you control the agenda, you can still bring it to an effective conclusion: ‘right, I think we are done, thanks very much everyone.’ You’re a busy, focused person.
- Stand up and make some small talk to get to know the main influencers before you move on.
Click here to find out about Zena Everett’s Masterclasses and Workshops
NEW FOR 2019
Turbo charge your productivity and concentration skills by booking a Crazy Busy™ and Bears event. Join Zena in Finland next summer for bespoke peak-productivity sessions during the day, then hone your concentration powers by studying these majestic Brown Bears at night.