Earlier this week, I read a couple of articles from the US on tips for male speakers presenting to a group of women and the flip side of women speaking to groups of men. As a massive fan of the art, science and psychology of speaking, leading and connecting well with an audience, even though i'm not a man, i still felt like there was a lot of gold in these, circa the level of consciousness around 2010. And I have to say, I have a whole lot of respect for anyone who has ever spoken to a single gender audience opposite to their own, and survived. Let alone coming out having people raving about them and telling them they created a really safe and loving space.
At the same time, there was one point for women speaking to men, from He & She Talk, by Laurie Schloff and Marcia Yudkink, that i've had a very different experience of since i first decided in 2011 I wanted to get out there and start doing a lot more facilitation and speaking. And that point related to avoiding clothing, gestures or vocal tones that appear girlish, sexy or silly, on account of the fact , Laurie and Marcia suggested, that Men respect accomplished businesswomen. They also suggested that, if you be moderate in your dress and demeanour, you won't distract from your message. My experience of this has actually been very different, with business, with wellness and with alternatively focused markets. So i wanted to share my own experience this week.
There is definitely something to be said for setting up the space (where you can) to support your message and work, for giving consideration to what’s comfortable for your audience or not, when you’re there to be of service. For meeting your audience where they’re at, when they come in and establishing some connection, before you go trying to shift their world view. And lord knows part of the reason i've wanted to do more content and speaking training, is because i needed to get better at doing the left brain side of things, in balance to my ability to share the right brain therapist-typical experiential stuff. And hands down, i concede i could get 60 times better with the clarity and brevity piece they mention at times. Like....right....NOW.
But, regardless of my brevity and clarity, or regardless of your gender, i think there's another way to look at the intention we hold within the space and what we expect to have to manage. As I contemplated this over the last week, two scenes from two movies that happened since that book was written, came to mind.
A Star Is Born
The first, was Lady Gaga, playing talented, but self-doubt riddled Ally in A Star is Born (2018). Just in case you’ didn’t see it, here’s a quick re-cap. After she’s, spontaneously encouraged on stage by her seasoned musician boyfriend Jackson Maine (Bradley Cooper), and, despite her fear, he helps hold the space for her to take centre stage, she completely “brings it” with her performance of Shallow , in the best possible way and they love her for it. Then, at each of his next shows, while she’s just getting up wearing what she normally wears and just sharing her “something she has to say” with the crowd, she grows her own following, so much so that agents start chasing her, with big plans to push her solo pop career....in a very different direction.
In the subsequent moments, she has to choose between being everything her manager and the polls results from her target audience say she should be for the fans….and, as Jackson put it, the soulful version of her that had something to say, that the public (and he) first actually fell in love with her for, in her totally casual t-shirt and entirely human looking gear, in the first place. For those of you who saw it, which parts of her performance, and or Jackson’s, for that matter, did YOU most connect with, or not? My question to you, men and women in the house, did what she was wearing impact you at all, when she opened her mouth, and pure brilliance came out, when she first sang shallow? Or did you feel yourself pulled by the energy Jackson set up, of just just gunning for her to shine? #What happens when we set an intention of expecting the best, instead of the worst.
The Adjustment Bureau
The second, involves Matt Damon playing Politician David Norris and Contemporary Professional Ballerina Elise (Emily Blunt) in The Adjustment Bureau (2011) ....in the moments after he loses the race for a Senate seat, David goes into the bathroom for a final rehearsal of his concession speech. Little does he know at the time, the free spirited ballerina Elise, who happens to have been secretly hiding out from the guards in one of the cubicles in the men’s, after crashing a wedding upstairs, is also still in there, while he starts practising his concession speech in there, thinking he was all alone. Until she finally gets up the nerve to come out...and they have one of the most impactful and meaningful conversations of his life.
So much so that, as he goes out on stage and starts giving his concession speech, having just been crucified by his opponents in the media for his traumatic past, by part way in, inspired by his interaction with Elise, he throws the script out the window and starts explaining to the crowd the fake story he just told about the saying they had in his neighbourhood, the psychometric testing and pole results that went into deciding upon every article and the appearance of what he’s wearing, from his tie and suit colours, to the “correct amount of scuff he should have on his shoes”, to make him relatable to (and fundable by) the lawyers and bankers, yet not render him inaccessible to blue collar types. And called b.s. on the media having previously called “authenticity” the reason for his rise. His Campaign Manager backstage, clearly wants to kill him in the moment, feeling he’s throwing away all they’ve worked so hard for.
Yet, in the press that follows on the coming days and, as scenes continue into the years that follow, it’s shown that, his chance encounter with Elise, inspired a turning point in his political career. His truly embodied “authentic”, courageous, speech makes a massive positive impact on the country and wins the public’s respect more than ever, for him having taken a stand, despite his apparent “flaws”, for having the courage to get back up, in a world of “fake” and contrived politicians, while standing there with his perfectly measured appearance.
What internally shifted for him, was Emily helped him to love and accept the very parts of him that his opponents were trying to shame, as weakness and immaturity….his family deaths, his having been arrested also for having crashed a wedding, and then again for a college full moon prank with his butt, along with his buddies butts having been captured on camera, and just run as a fall page spread in the paper and him being branded immature. Instead of being judgemental, Emily told him she was glad she found a politician she could relate to, who was real and reminds him that, even though he might think he’s done, she thinks he’s actually made for this. And that’s what helped inspire his subsequent, Brené Browne style moment of being courageous in vulnerability, that won over a nation.
Becoming Michelle O'Bama
If you want to check out a real-life version of a female political figure's journey to speaking with an authentic voice and overcoming the things we'd think and she was told would hold her back, if you haven't already, check out Oprah's SuperSoul Conversations Podcasts part 1 and 2 of Michelle Obama's Becoming interview 
In a world in which the public has now well and truly been taken behind the curtain of marketing, sales and the media manipulation of reality, and shown the reality of how psychology and NLP can be used to genuinely help them, or used blatantly against them, we now live in the era of heightened discernment and awareness, that is driving the need for us to show up with greater authenticity. In this era, the world at large has now been captivated and inspired by the permission they’ve found since people like Brené threw open the shame closet on a global level and pointed out to a world now ready to listen, all the reasons we’re all starving for true connection, beyond all the ways that negative emotions get in the way of it.
Not to mention, through the likes of Dare to Lead , pointing out at least 10 ways in which not being more honest and vulnerable is literally killing organisational progress and the lasting possibility of true connection, innovation and creativity, while everyone is pandering to the fear of rocking the boat, and the fear of what they might lose if they do. Through her eyes, and those of the many in the personal and professional development space like her, who came before her and also lead us to this point of readiness, the wider world has now come to understand our own thirst for a world that is authentic, and for a level of connection that is deep and meaningful, beyond actually, the realm alone of accomplishment and appearance.
My point? While audiences from different markets and cultures, will have different perceptions and expectations about presentation, that are what they are, what if it’s not really as much about what you’re wearing, as how you’re showing up and with what energy and intent you’re engaging the audience in the first place?
In one respect, it can be really easy to lose yourself trying to pander to people’s projections. And the harder you try to appease them, the risk is, the further you can get from showing up as who you really are. Or from showing up as the version of you that they truly need, warts and all, while we’re trying to be the version that we THINK they will love. You might show up and do a great job. But you might also leave one of the most needed gifts you brought for them on the table of the green room, if, like David, you haven’t made peace with and try and hide some of your points of greatest learning from public view.
It depends a little bit on the nature of where you’re presenting and what purpose I think. But, for me personally, I’ve seen that, no matter what I was presenting or co-facilitating, whether it was introducing myself to a BNI, or presenting at a networking event. Whether I was co-facilitating an online training program or one of my own networking events. Whether I was facilitating a discussion with a Women’s Circle, or a workshop full of friends. Or I was speaking to an overflowing tent of women at a festival, or an event space full of people. It was the moments where I threw parts of my well-prepared plan, along with the left brain research and or script to the side, showed up and shared some of my biggest learnings that I’d made peace with, and dared to share my story on how I got through it, that flung the door open for people to reach the depths of the known, but deeply hidden experiences they too were having a similar experience of. And now, with me having brought it to light and brought love and acceptance to it, now THEY were able to have the transformation they really needed to have, above and beyond whatever purpose I came there for. Or whatever one they originally thought they did.
In those moments, your greatest weakness, becomes your greatest strength and no-one can touch you when you’ve owned it as your greatest strength.
The silly, naive girl in me did not become a weakness when I owned her ability to travel the country, bravely following her calling as a part of She Lives a Life She Loves. Hundreds of people, at one point or another, have told me they found it inspiring and wished they had the courage and hoped they one day could do that too. Nor was my sexuality something to be ashamed of when I started sharing my Women's health journey at public events, as a part of discussions on healing the guilt and shame underlying sexual illness, according to the feedback of the hundreds of people who attended, and the thousands they went on and told about it, make peace with their inner seductresses and theIr inner predators, and understand where their truth feminine and masculine power and magnetism REALLY comes from. Plus, have renewed hope for the relationship and host of life goodness that comes on the other side of healing their health issues. And for years, people have continued to thank me and share the flow on benefits of those workshops and presentations, long after they happened, regardless of whether I delivered that insight in business attire, or something I’d bought at Tree of Life or Ishka. And by the way, it wasn’t my accomplishments that they were respecting, they told me it was my courage, it was being true to who I am and my values. It was my self-respect.
Finally, and possibly most importantly, as some Wise Speaker Trainers from Thought Leaders Business School once wrote, It’s also the intention with which we show up to the space, and the respect we give our audience, that creates a more positive experience for the group . When we set the intention for the space to show up and look every person in that audience in the eyes with love, and practice, as the Yogi’s and Tantrics call it, looking for the divine (and the best) in them, as well as showing up with love and compassion for the parts of them that are deeply human, even if they feel triggered by things that you have to say or things that you are, with a few individual exceptions here and there, they will mirror you back with love and respect….and then continue to sit in the energy of transformation after they go, as they continue to process the insights in their own time. Whether you are or aren't a part of their after experience (and hopefully, you are.)
If we as women truly want to realise our highest potential as the people at the front of the room, (and lord knows the world presently needs a whole lot more of us in the Leader seats) it’s time to stop pandering to, expecting and planning for the worst of men (or anyone of any gender) and rendering ourselves non-provokingly small, and somewhat Vanilla. It’s time to make peace with the parts of ourselves and others that we fear and are ashamed of, turn them into our strengths and then show up courageously, with as much love and authenticity as we can muster, while we do our best to deliver on the agreed upon agenda of service, and then flow with what actually unfolds in the moment. While showing up as the best space-holder and quality presenter version of us is one thing, showing up as the fullest, most authentic versions of us, is where the true magic is also that. So be that.
Until next time, have fun, take care.
 Chathik, N, Speaking to an All-Woman Audience...When You're a Man,
 Shallow - A Star is Born (2018) Lady Gaga & Bradley Cooper
 The Adjustment Bureau 2011 clip .. speech scene
 Michelle O'Bama, Becoming Part 1 & 2, Oprah's Supersoul Conversations, Nov 15, 2018
 Brown, B, Dare to Lead, Ebury Publishing, 2018
 Speakership, Chuch C, Coburn, S and Fink, C, Thoughtleaders Publishing, 2015
Nat talks about Self Expression, Heart Centred Communication and Lifestyle for Leaders.