The Voice of Women in the Workforce

Your voice in the workforce

In today’s workforce, it is becoming increasingly critical to be able to express yourself confidently and assertively. This puts women at a distinct disadvantage in the workforce, as they are born with a tendency to show a lesser degree of confidence and assertiveness than men.

Fortunately, this can be easily remedied by changing your habits and following a few simple guidelines.

In western culture, particularly in the corporate world, the problem is not so much that women’s voices are being suppressed, but that very often women’s voices are not fully heard.

Why does this happen? It’s not for a single reason, but a multitude of circumstances that contribute:

  • The feminine style of speech is less confident.
  • Women naturally tend to be less aggressive than men. A woman’s style is more hesitant and she will more readily consider alternative points than a man. A man tends to express himself more confidently and decisively.
  • Perhaps because of this, a woman will often get talked over in meetings. She may hesitantly express an idea that is later rephrased more confidently by a male, to find that it is later accepted as his idea.

It is for these reasons that you may not be seen as an effective leader.

If you want to overcome gender inequality in the workplace, you need to accept that it’s not a level playing field. You will have more success by taking control of your voice, rather than expecting favourable treatment from others to compensate for your disadvantage.

You should be asking yourself, “Do I know how I sound?”, and “Is it contributing or detracting from what I want to say?”

The importance of pitch in your voice

In 2012 a study examined 792 male public-company CEOs and found on average, the CEOs with deeper voices managed larger companies.

In the article “Preference for Leaders with Masculine Voices Holds in the Case of Feminine Leadership Roles,” shows both men and women proved more likely to elect a person to a leadership position when she/he had a lower voice.

The study also found women with lower voices are more likely to be favored in a corporate environment, especially in a leadership role

When people do not feel confident, they usually speak with high-pitched and often shaky voice. Alternatively, if they feel confident they will present in a steady voice with a lower pitch.

If you find yourself speaking in a very high-pitched voice, try lowering your pitch. This is easier said than done, and just like any habit, it requires conscious effort in the beginning, and practice. So we’ve compiled guidlelines below to help you have better control over your voice.

Enhance your voice projection and clarity

Before speaking, take a few moments for some relaxation exercises. Take some deep breaths.  Warm up your face and jaw muscles by opening your mouth wide. Warm up your neck and shoulder muscles by doing some stretches. To practice vocal variety, read a book out loud. Open your mouth wider and enunciate each word clearly and distinctly.

Improve your posture. Stand tall with your head up, so as not to strangle your voice. Your voice is made of air, and it needs a wide-open path from your lungs, past your vocal cords and out your mouth to be heard clearly.

Focus your voice. When you practice your presentation, practice speaking to various objects in the room. Start with something close, like a chair. Then, when you feel that the chair is hearing you, focus on something a little farther away, perhaps a plant. Talk to the plant, breathe, and make sure your mouth is open so the air can flow.

Speak with confidence and authority

Speak slowly. When speaking quickly, your voice is not as clear, and it will be more difficult to hear correctly. Focus on speaking more slowly in your conversation, allowing your words to draw out and giving your sentences a weightier rhythm. It will will give you more time to think clearly about what you are saying.

Use pauses. Pauses give you a chance to collect your thoughts and prepare for the next section of your speech, adding to the authority in your presentation. It also allows your audience to process what has been said before taking on the next idea.

Use gestures. Gestures are the practice of using your hands and arms to punctuate or enhance your verbal statements. Speakers who use body language actively in their presentation tend to be viewed as more confident and more authoritative than those who do not.

Talk more. Seek out new opportunities to communicate with others whenever you get the chance. The only way to get better is to keep speaking, so sign up for a public speaking club like Toastmasters. It will give you a structured program to help you put speaking strategies to practice, and help you focus on improving your abilities over time.

Co-authored by Hannah Le and Ross Richard.

Social Media Cannot Replace Face-To-Face Interaction

How We Misuse Social Media

What did Former Facebook Exec Chamath Palihapitiya say during an interview with CNBC that should make us very concerned about social media?

He shared a true story: “[Former Twitter Exec Adam Bain and I] went to watch a sports game to see our favourite team. We’re sitting courtside which was amazing. I took a picture, and my friend took a picture. We sweated the photo filter for 15 minutes trying to figure out which photo to use, because we were so craving the reaction. If this is what we are going through, then what must everybody else be going through?”

The interviewer concurred, “You’re not really watching the game, and not really paying attention to what’s happening around you.”

This shows that even the creators of social media platforms are not immune to its negative effects. There are many examples of where social media has replaced real-life interaction.

Even if you are not an avid social media user, you are still affected. Perhaps you were at a bus stop, and everyone is looking down at their smartphone. Perhaps you were at the dinner table with your kids. Whatever it was, you’ve met people whose smartphones were an excuse not to start a meaningful conversation.

How the Internet Connects and Disconnects

The Internet began with a vision to connect people who were living far away from each other. It gave us what television did not.

Television is a passive medium, where we simply sit there and consume what is presented to us without having to interact with another person. Fortunately, the Internet changed this and allowed us to actively participate across distances with many people at once.

It’s amazing how we can use the Internet to find a long-lost friend, connect with people who share common interests, find out about our friends lives without having to talk to them, get the latest news around the world, and share news to get a reaction from our friends.

We’ve come to rely on our smartphones to keep connected with the world at all times. The people who are not connected online now seem alien to us.

However, technology can be misused in ways that are hurting our lives. It can actually do the opposite of what we intended. It can detach us from the real-world in which we live. We are vulnerable to letting our choices be manipulated by other people for their own selfish gain.

What The Facebook Data Scandal Revealed

The recent Facebook data-mining scandal in March 2017 was a sudden wake up call that our private lives and personal choices can easily be manipulated in ways that benefit the very few.

The creators themselves warned us many times even before the data scandal:

Chamath Palihapitiya explained, “We live in a world now where it is easy to confuse truth and popularity, and you can use money to amplify whatever you believe… and get people to believe that what is popular is truthful, and what is not popular may not be truthful.”

Sean Parker (ex-Facebook President) explained that when Facebook was being developed, the objective was: “How do we consume as much of your time and conscious attention as possible?”

It was this mindset that led to the creation of features such as the “like” button that would give users “a little dopamine hit” to keep them addicted to sharing more of their private lives.

Social media can help us communicate and enhance our lives, but using it as a substitute for face-to-face and physical interaction can do the opposite.

It can also disconnect us from the real world by making us too busy caring about people we hardly know or about things which may not be true. And that means we have less time to care about things that actually matter and to make our own choices.

It can give us an excuse to avoid confronting reality, by substituting it with a distorted version of it that attracts “likes”. It can prevent us from building positive and meaningful relationships.

The Critical Questions We Should Be Asking

Technological evolution is as much as a social evolution. It goes through several phases, and we’ve just gone through adolescence with social media, and we now need maturity.

You should ask yourself these critical questions whenever you let technology into your life:

  • Does technology help you build positive, meaningful relationships, or do it hinder this process?
  • Are you better able to communicate, listen, and share because of it?
  • Do you use it to improve your relationships and build new ones?
  • Are you letting a few choice people know who you are and what you contribute to this world, or are you merely distracting yourself with shallow pursuits?
  • Does it increase or decrease your concern for others, your compassion for others, and your desire to serve them?”

(questions credited to: Human Kinetics).

Your smartphone should not be a substitute for real-life interaction. It should be a way to find real-life interaction. Just like how you don’t use your GPS to imagine going from A to B, but to actually get from A to B. It should only be a starting point for building meaningful relationships and gaining real-life experience.

To paraphrase famous quotes:

“It’s not what you say in life, but what you do that defines you”, inspired by Carl Jung.

“Reading, after a certain age, diverts the mind too much from its creative pursuits. Any man who reads too much and uses his own brain too little falls into lazy habits of thinking.” Albert Einstein

Start a Real Conversation Today

We should use this as an opportunity to reclaim our personal lives, have real-life interactions, and make our own choices in a way that benefits us all. Instead of looking at your smartphone, look at the people around you. Try to start a conversation with the person next to you.

This can be very challenging, especially when others are still hooked onto their smartphone. It makes you feel like you’re intruding into their mental space. The smartphone is often an “anti-icebreaker”.

Fortunately, we have environments that specifically encourage meaningful face-to-face interaction without being socially awkward.

Toastmasters is an excellent social environment to learn from each other, share our life’s experiences and great ideas, and enjoy the presence of other human beings. It’s a place where we can be mentored, and become more effective in communication and leadership. These are the most important skills in having successful personal and professional lives.

How do you join Toastmasters? There are Toastmasters clubs all around the world. There’s probably one near to where you live. Not every club is the same, even though they all given the same guidelines and resources by Toastmasters International.

If you are considering joining Toastmasters, then try visiting a couple of clubs that are held at a convenient time and venue. You’ll get a better insight on how the club is run and how well you relate with people there. It will help you choose the club that you believe is best for you.

Co-authored by Christopher Tso and Jussine Tan.

A Brief Lesson of Resourcefulness

stephen-hawking

Stumping our Speakers with Science Questions

“Space and Time” was the theme for our meeting on 27th March 2018. Stephen Hawkings recently passed away, so we used that as an opportunity to bring greater appreciation to his scientific achievements and the hidden lesson of “resourcefulness”.

In our Table Topics segment, we stumped our members and visitors with questions such as, “How do you think the universe began?”, “If wormholes existed, where would you go?”, “What is it like to be in a black hole?”, and “What is the singularity?”.

As with everything in Toastmasters, we immediately gave feedback to Table Topics speakers on how to handle such challenging questions. A valuable piece of advice given by Ross Richard, an experienced Toastmaster, was this:

“No question can be too difficult. You simply answer to the best of your knowledge. It’s not as important to give the correct answer, than to give the answer that you believe is correct, and explain why.”

Even Stephen Hawkings is not 100% certain that his answers are correct. And many scientists before him have been proven wrong. We value the process of getting the answer more than the answer itself. That’s why Hawkings is such a renowned professor even if we haven’t proven all of his theories.

It’s supporting his theories with strong scientific reasoning and his ability to explain his theories to ordinary people that resulted in the huge step forward in scientific progress. If we adopt such a mindset that we can be wrong, and still articulate our conclusions, then no question is too difficult to answer.

Being Resourceful

Hawkings is a good role model for resourcefulness. We don’t need have all the correct answers to give useful answers. We can still spread influential ideas even if we are not world-class public speakers.

Hawkings certainly could not speak like everyone else. He could not use a calculator and relied on visualizing his theories in his mind. What’s most impressive was that none of these were obstacles to his achievements. And unlike other scientists who spoke in scientific language, he explained it in a way that was more accessible to ordinary people. Today, people are giving his bestselling book, “A Brief History of Time“, another read.

To drill in what Hawking’s physical condition teaches us, here’s a true story:

Hawking had a team of helpers who cared for him around the clock. One of them once introduced him as disabled, and he quickly corrected his helper: he wasn’t disabled, he was merely in a wheelchair.

Hawkings did not only teach the nature of space and time. He taught us a lesson on resourcefulness.

In Toastmasters, it’s good to have challenging questions once in a while but not every meeting. Everyone asked gave it a try. We could in future ask questions that are so easy that it becomes equally challenging to give an answer that is longer than one sentence. Toastmasters also teaches us to be resourceful and adaptable.

Saying Goodbye to 2017, and Taking a Deep Breath for 2018

What a year it was, 2017

It came and went so fast but more importantly we managed to squeeze lots of events. The last one off all was our Christmas party 19th of December. We came together, shared food and drinks, stories and jokes. Our DJ, Rowlanda played the music that was from around the world.

It was wonderful to be together and celebrate our accomplishments.

We said good our goodbyes to 2017 just to take a deep breath for 2018!

A lot has happened since the beginning of 2018.  On the 31st of January we have done Club Speech Contest 2018 with the help of our guest judges Sandra, John and chef judge Ben.

Ross was the winner of the night one more time taking the first place. Mark came second with Rowland taking the third place.

Looking forward to a busy year ahead, feeling sweetly uneasy we are holding on to each other tightly. So, good luck everyone for 2017.

Winners of our Club Evaluation Contest

Here is another fun and nourishing event yet again!

On December 5, 2017, we competed against each other to evaluate our guest speaker of the night, Sabesh Sitsabesan. Ross Richard was also presented his DTM Plaque by Shirley Childs.

We had well-experienced and full-of-wisdom guests and visitors from other clubs. They kindly helped us carry out our evening with our Contest Chair Christopher Tso and District Director Shirley Childs. Ross was the winner of the night as I took the second place.

Ross was surely the star of the night. He was given the International Distinguished Toastmasters Plaque (DTM) together with his medal and badge by our director Shirley Childs.

In events like this, we come together and share moments of excitement and rewards. The end product is always that growth that we are all after. After every meeting, I cannot help but congratulate myself because I am a member of the club.

Written by: Mel Colgar VVPR and VPM

Kingi Biddle’s Bird Seeds on World Champion Public Speaking

On the 7th of November 2017, Kingi took us to a journey in ourselves and reminded us that we were all unique in delivering our messages.

He was comfortable during his entire speech. He knew how to connect with each one of us in his own way. We could not feel anything glossy or pre-packaged about him. He spoke right from his heart, reaching to ours with ease. Kingi told us that he had brought some ideas for the night so that we could pick the ones we liked, just like the birds would pick their favourite seeds from a pack.

Thank you Kingi. We now appreciate more than ever, that the message we deliver has the greatest importance in our speeches and must be done in our own way.

If we were to write on the wall to remind us for future speeches, it would be:

Start with the message that you want to deliver… and ask yourself “who cares” and “so what’s the point”? When you know what you want to say, then it’s easy to know how to say it and quickly get to the point. And when you allow your message to be a part of you, and deliver it as yourself, then others will follow along your journey and engage with your message.

How to Write a World Championship Speech Workshop

When: Tuesday 7 Nov 2017
Where: Dural Memorial Hall
604 Old Northern Road, Dural
Time: 7.00 for 7.15 pm start
Contact: Mel Colgar VPPR
E: mcolgar@bigpond.net.au
M: 0409 916 002
RSVP: Monday 30 Oct 2017

 

A New Zealand Te Arawa descendant, a devoted Toastmaster and champion public speaker. Kingi was runner-up at the World Championship of Public Speaking in 2013.

Kingi has spent many years in the broadcasting industry as a Radio Announcer and TV presenter. He loves putting smiles on the faces of the people he talks to every day, whether he is on radio or tv.

Kingi is the husband of Wendy, the father of four awesome children and the grandfather, it’s hard to believe, the grandfather of 3 divine and angelic grand-daughters. They are the apples of their young grandfather’s eye.

His current passion is that of keynote speaking and delivering his presentation skills seminar called “Take yourself there”

“I am a descendant of great storytellers who used their words to carve visions in the minds of their people,” Kingi said.

“Effective communication is like painting a vivid picture into the minds and hearts of people. Magic will literally grow around you.”

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We Made It to Top 3 in Area M2 Contest 2017!

Today was the day Rowlanda and Mark shone like the stars among all the contestants. The represented West Pennant Hills Club so well and took the third place in Table Topics and Humorous Speech contest in the Area M2 Contest at The Hills Club Baulkham Hills.

Thank you Rowlanda and Mark. We are proud of you both.

We had to help present their certificates and awards!

Humorous Speech Contest on 15th August 2017

We had a massive turnout, with nine excellent speakers competing in our club’s Humorous Speech Contest.

Rowan Kunz was first place winner. His speech title was “The Professional Procrastinator”. He took over the stage, charmed and captivated his judges and audience as always. Congratulations Rowan!

Rowlanda Orchiston was second place winner. Her speech title was “I Talk to the Trees”. It was a very entertaining story about some embarassing moments when she was a school kid.

Jason Xu was third place winner. His speech title was “Names”. A very funny take on how names can become a big deal.

Mark Paton’s speech was titled “The Worst Decision Of My Life”. He didn’t make it to the top 3, but he’s agreed to share his video so that we can learn from it.

The other speakers also delivered captivating speeches. Their names and speech titles are below:

Tuo Zeng – “Tuo”
Vicky Mina – “A Man’s Best Friend”
Siva Hesavan – “I Don’t Want To Go To Kids Parties Anymore”
Mel Colgar – “Midlife Crisis”
Christopher Tso – “Delegate Before You Do Anything”

Well done to all contestants and everyone who helped create a fantastic evening.

Champion Speaker Matt Tonkiss Visit WPH Toastmasters

We came together to do our usual meeting on the 1st of August 2017 . We had 21 members and guests and with a guest speaker, Matt Tonkiss.

It was a very special evening because Matt is a successful member of Toastmaster family and he is preparing a speech for the Toastmasters International Convention taking place August 23 in Vancouver. It was invaluable for us to see his presentation on that evening and we even were fortunate to ask questions.

So, thank you Matt and good luck in Vancouver.