So there I was in a room of 50 women. Okay, 47 women and three brave men.
Before my talk, they went around the room introducing themselves – just a quick name-and-business kind of thing. Out of 50 people, I clearly heard and understood maybe seven of them.
I don’t have a hearing problem. But they definitely had a being-heard problem.
And get this – THEY WERE USING A MICROPHONE! Even with the mic, those tiny little voices didn’t go anywhere. And as a result, you could feel the energy in the room dissipating.
This is a common problem for women, in particular. And it’s not just about vocal volume; there’s that and then there’s more to it than that.
So how do you make sure that people hear who you are and what you can do for them when you speak at a networking event – or anywhere else, for that matter?
Mindset comes first, as it so often does. You know that you have something valuable to offer. Don’t you? How are they going to know you have something valuable to offer if you don’t tell them?
So before you introduce yourself, remind yourself that this is no time to play small. Stop hiding your light, let go of modesty and self-consciousness. And set an intention to make a real connection with the people listening to you.
Ground yourself. And by all means stand up, even if others are seated. It’s much easier to project your voice when you’re standing with both feet planted on the floor.
It will, of course, help to breathe. Fully, deeply, from your belly. That’s where you want the energy to come from.
Relax your body, especially your upper body – shoulders, upper back, neck and jaw. Tension in that part of you will make your voice sound tight and tinny. You want the sound to resonate in all the possible places, so let those muscles be loose.
Especially notice any tendency to clench your jaw. A lot of people do that unconsciously; if you’re one of them, it’s good to become aware of it so you can intentionally let go.
It will help to look at the person in the room who’s farthest away from you. Our energy follows our line of sight – if you’re looking all the way across the room it’ll be easier to project your voice than if you’re looking at someone right there at your table. Looking at someone close, you’ll automatically be inclined to lower your voice and that’s the opposite of what we’re looking for.
Some of my clients find a visualization helpful. Imagine that your voice is an arrow. (I like to make it a rubber-tipped arrow so no one gets hurt.) Your belly is the bow. Use that belly-bow to launch your voice up and out and across the room, aiming your “arrow” right at that farthest-away person.
Or, try this one. Notice the two or three people in the room who desperately need what you have to offer and I don’t know what that is, but you do. You also know there are people in this group – in any group – who are drowning in difficulty. And their lives or businesses can be changed forever with your help.
They’re out there, frantically waiting to be rescued. And you’re about to throw them an imaginary lifesaver with a quick introduction that lets them know help is on the way. Wouldn’t it be a shame if the lifesaver didn’t reach them? If your introduction fell short or fell flat or failed to connect with those people who’ve been eagerly waiting for you?
When you look at it that way, you actually have a responsibility to make your message heard. And now you have some tips for doing just that.
If you need a lifesaver of your own, you’ll find it here.