How can I encourage more women to present? – Jenny’s Admin Tip #60

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Salesforce World Tours, User Groups, Dreamforce etc, anyone who has been to a Salesforce community event will know that they all have something in common – speakers. You know the ones? Admins, devs, consultants. They stand there happily sharing information about the Salesforce platform to help you become superstars in your own disciplines.

I recently attended the Salesforce London World Tour and it was great to see that there were more women speakers, not only in the Admin zone, but in the Dev zone too, hoorah ! However, it was still obvious that the number of women speakers in the Dev zone compared to the Admin zone was significantly less. It got me wondering if this was also true for the rest of the World Tours, Meetups and  Developer User Groups ?

In my musings this week I don’t aim to address how to get more women developers. This is something the wider Tech Industry is currently focusing on and it goes without saying more would be fantastic. No i’m focused on another topic altogether – How can I encourage more women to present ?

I guess the best way I can do this is that I tell you why I present and hopefully this will inspire you to give it a go yourself. When you do so please tell me how your presentation went. Deal?

Let’s start with – Who and what inspired me?

That niggling feeling – We’ve probably all had it. Whilst sitting watching an inspirational presentation, in the back of your mind you are thinking to yourself “If only I could do that”.

I always wanted to present, but never had the courage to because I didn’t feel that my content would be good enough. I had a load of excuses. I bet you have plenty too. Eventually these niggles grew and I needed to find a way to do something…

The Who

Colleagues The encouragement from my colleagues was overwhelming. I’d seen them all present, it was inspiring. Yet I still said no to presenting opportunities. It would take; fellow MVP, Chris Lewis, to give me the ‘Eye of the Tiger’ talk (you’ll have to ask him about that one); my manager, Gary McGeorge’s, inspirational quotes (you’ll have to scroll down for one of these); and (yet another MVP) Matt Morris to sign me up for my first ever presentation at the London Salesforce World Tour back in 2015.

The What

Community Opportunity Sitting in a room full of people at The Women Who Code event back in late 2014, whilst the presenters shared their knowledge (Experience) I observed;  the satisfaction on people’s faces; their nods of approval; the relevant questions being asked by the audience and the ability to network and discuss further post presentation.

It was easy to understand why the speakers  spoke in the first place. The passion that runs through the room is intoxicating.  It may only be a small way to give back, but using my time to to share my knowledge and to help others, even one person suddenly seemed to alleviate and finally overpower all my niggles and fears.

So what was it like the first time I presented?

I was…

Nervous Everyone gets nerves. I don’t think I’ve ever experienced nerves like that before. Seeing all those faces, waiting to hear me give a 20 minute presentation (yeah 20 minutes, pfft), the pressure and expectation that I (not the audience) had burdened myself with, was enough to have me running for the free alcohol – if only that was being handed out at 1pm.

Unsure I doubted myself. I’d seen some pretty awesome presentations and the presenters seemed like they had had 20+ years of presenting experience. Ok granted some people may have, but I wasn’t thinking that at the time. I was thinking oh crap. My content sucks, I’m nervous, I’m probably going to stammer and spit (ew) on the audience. Until I finally felt…  

Empowered – There was no going back. The presentation was going to happen, it was only a matter of  getting through it. That was it. I had defeated my negative thoughts. I walked onto stage and tripped over onto my face. Ok the last bit was a joke, but it could have been so much worse!

What I felt after I had spoken?

Ok I hold my hands up, my content may have not been the best, I may have stammered (thankfully I didn’t spit… much)  I left out bits of the presentation and finished the talk 5 mins early. But did THEY [audience] know I had left something out? Nope. So I instantly felt…

Relief Yes the anxiety levels were quite high throughout the presentation, despite the last minute kick ass attitude. The sheer relief I felt, followed by an intense euphoric feeling (whilst sipping on a Pimm’s that my colleague had ready for me (thanks Amy Grenham)) inspired me to do more presentations. It’s kind of like that feeling when you have completed a race and you have those officials handing out flyers for you to enter even bigger races, you feel like you can take on the world even if you’ve just completed your first 5k and the flyer was for a marathon.

What I feel now when I speak?

Since that SFLWT back in 2015 I have presented a number of times, podcasted live at #DF15 and was privileged to be a panelist on the SFWiT group in May 2016. I still feel nervous and I still feel relieved when it is over. I am sure most people do. More importantly, I feel grateful. I’m grateful, because I am in a position where I can share my knowledge with people who want to hear it. It’s scary, but it’s worth it.

So ladies, if that doesn’t make you want to kick ass at the next meet up, WT or even DF (aim big), then let’s see if Gary McGeorge, (well technically Hugh Laurie) can persuade you –

“It’s a terrible thing, I think, in life to wait until you’re ready. I have this feeling now that actually no one is ever ready to do anything. There is almost no such thing as ready. There is only now. And you may as well do it now. Generally speaking, now is as good a time as any.”

– Hugh Laurie

I’ll see you next week.

Jenny

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By Jenny Bamber
2 June 2016
Jenny's Admin TipsThe Good Systems Blog

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