During a public speaking forum, I was asked to describe the differences between men and women public speakers. I was taken aback by this question and drew a genuine blank. Since then, I have been paying attention to see if there is a difference worthy of note. I do have one to share.
But first, the similarities. What is the same? Everything! The best way to describe the speaker preparation process is to liken it to a fancy audio mixer used in recording studios. (Like this one).
Each dial (notice there are hundreds) represents the varying levers of a public presentation, from grand to subtle – from content, organization, audience orientation, to body language, pitch, inflection, eye contact, delivery, rhetorical technique, nerves, props, power point…. the list goes on and on. And (to continue the analogy) I am the live sound engineer, moving the levels where they need support, balance, reinforcement, all to help create the best possible mix from the performer. Each final mix looks completely different. So, in this way, the process is the same for men and women, though the outcome is delightfully different.
But, here is a noted distinction. Some women have hired me privately to help them prepare for their professional presentation. They paid me out of their own pocket. Not a single man has ever done this or indicated that however many hours they need to prepare, they are not worth their company’s time and money. I completely agree. When I noticed this semi-trend and put words to it, it was a profound moment. I now tell this story to any female client considering using her hard-earned money to advance the work she does for her company. It’s a shift in perspective and a story I will tell again and again.