Takeaways from #WhatWorks: Speaking Up with BC Tech’s Jill Tipping

By Robin Hadac

November 15, 2019

By Robin Hadac, Executive Assistant & Office Administrator 

Many women have trouble speaking up in the workplace, especially in industries that have more men than women like tech, science and engineering. In Vancouver, the latest CBRE report shows that women only make up 18% of the tech workforce. The same report finds that despite being ranked 12th out of 50 major tech hubs for things like competitive advantages and appeal to workers, Vancouver’s tech scene ranks last in gender diversity. Female representation in the tech sector is valuable and ensuring women can participate in meaningful and equal ways is just as important. 

So when Switchboard sponsored the #WhatWorks – Women in Tech Series by BC Tech Association, I was eager to join the Speaking Up workshop facilitated by BC Tech’s President and CEO Jill Tipping. Whether you are emailing your coworkers, pitching to a client, or presenting in front of an audience, this workshop aimed to help women feel confident communicating ideas so there is no second-guessing.

In case you missed it, here are some of the key takeaways I gained from the session that can help you confidently communicate in the workplace.

Practice makes perfect.

Remember the last time you saw someone give an incredible presentation? It is easy to believe that they are naturally talented public speakers who always nail their speeches. More likely, they are killer public speakers because they practice!

If you are presenting to an audience, asking your boss for a raise, or pitching a new idea, take the time to practice what you are going to say. Do not wing it and expect to sound like Beyonce. Unless, of course, you are Beyonce.

When it comes to your message, less is more.

Ideas that are clear, simple, use examples, and relate to your audience are going to have a larger impact, a concept Jill calls “sticky”. When communicating your ideas, lead with whatever message you want to make “stick”. Media does this really well—headlines always get the point across fast and easy. If you tend to write long emails and over-explain ideas, try putting your most important message first and then seeing if you need the rest.

Being clear does not always mean being liked.

In fast-paced industries like technology or public relations, getting your point across clearly and concisely is key. Yet being direct, clear, and short does not always come across as friendly, and this can be especially concerning for women like myself. I’m approaching this dilemma by trying to find a balance between when my message needs to be communicated effectively versus when I am building relationships. Both are important to me, and ultimately this balance is different for everyone.

The spotlight may be on you, but their attention isn’t always.

If you are like me and you stress about the little details during public speaking, the odds that your audience is 100% focused on you are pretty slim. You may remember that time you stumbled over your words and meant to say “pie chart” but it came out as “pry apart” but realistically, no one else does (or cares), so neither should you.

No one can tell how nervous you are.

I will admit, I was skeptical of this one at first. Yet in the workshop when we each gave a 30-second presentation to a small group and received feedback, no one thought the other presenters were nervous, even though we all were. Your audience wants you to succeed, so no one is looking for ways you can fail.

It was impactful to see what started as a quiet group of women in BC Tech’s boardroom turn into a confident and outspoken bunch. There are many other great lessons to be learned from the #WhatWorks series, so make sure you don’t miss any of the upcoming events, like the Careers in Tech session with David Hargreaves on Nov 19. 

Have other tips for workplace communication? Tweet us @Switchboard_PR to share your ideas!

Read our last blog post about the #WhatWorks – Negotiations Skills Workshop. 


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