From The Office To The Stage: How Women Leaders Can Earn More Speaking Opportunities

Women make up about half of the workforce, yet they remain underrepresented as speakers at major events. To get more women in the stage spotlight, three accomplished women leaders and speakers shared their advice.

Trends take many forms, from the hottest new tech solutions on the market to social media changes and even dancing to "Juju on That Beat." When a trend develops, you've got a couple of options: You can embrace it and use it to your advantage, or you can call it out and work to alter its path.

Following Content Marketing World 2016, one popular speaker took to Twitter to comment on the need for — and lack of — female speakers at the event. Founder and former CEO of Moz Rand Fishkin tweeted about his frustration that male speakers made up 66 percent of the event's lineup.

This absence of women speakers has renewed a call for equal stage time among men and women speakers at conferences. Women make up about half of the workforce, yet they remain underrepresented as speakers at major events.

To get more women in the stage spotlight, these accomplished women leaders and speakers shared their advice:

1. Lena Requist, president of ONTRAPORT

"It's important for women across all professions to have their voices and their stories heard," Lena Requist, president at ONTRAPORT, said. "An unbalanced stage equals an unbalanced event. Women play a pivotal role in business, and public speaking offers an opportunity to share their unique perspectives to inform and inspire."

Requist stands by her word. Fifty percent of the speakers at ONTRApalooza, ONTRAPORT's modern marketing summit, were women, many of whom presented on multiple topics over the course of the three-day event.

Plus, the event's top keynote speaker was Sophia Amoruso, founder of Nasty Gal. "This didn't happen by chance," Requist added. "We made sure the speakers were split equally between men and women. As a businesswoman, you should trust that your voice deserves to be heard and get involved in sharing your expertise wherever you can."

2. Jenna McCarthy, author and corporate speaker

"Making it to the stage isn't just an honor — it's also a tremendous opportunity. Speakers often command steep fees. They earn the respect of the public and their peers. Their talks frequently lead to even greater professional opportunities," Jenna McCarthy said.

"When you look at it that way, is it any wonder we see so few female speakers? That women are underrepresented on the stage isn't the problem; it’s the symptom. After all, just 4 percent of Fortune 500 companies in the U.S. have female CEOs."

To address the problem, McCarthy believes we need more women in all positions of power — not just the highly visible ones. "We need to groom them, encourage them, and make sure they have access to a path to the top that's just as clear and accessible as the one their male colleagues are forging."

3. Dorie Clark, author of "Stand Out" and "Reinventing You"

In her research, author and speaker Dorie Clark discovered three key elements to becoming recognized as an expert. "The first is having the credentials to assure others that you're worth listening to, whether that's in the form of academic degrees, a robust client list, or affiliations with respected institutions," she said. "The second is a strong network, which helps you test your ideas and spread them. And third, you must share your ideas publicly — because if others don't know what you're thinking, they have no way to gauge how valuable you are."

She continued, "Public speaking is one of the best ways to ensure your ideas are heard, yet many people, especially women, hold back from doing so. Pursuing speaking opportunities can fast-track your career and enable others to recognize your true value."

These three women have earned a place on the stage and serve as excellent examples to other women to always look out for speaking opportunities. As you finish out this year's conference season and prep for 2017, stay on the lookout for these and other women speakers.

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