Episode 66: Build confidence and project your best self

Episode 66: Build confidence and project your best self

The secrets of female leadership

This podcast will:

  • Reveal why shaping your voice is key to your effectiveness
  • Show how to beat your inner critic and overcome imposter syndrome
  • Demonstrate the presentational techniques for enhanced credibility

Find out how you can use confidence-building techniques to get your ideas across with our Confidence, Influence and Impact training course.

Podcast transcript

Sophie Peterson  00:03

Welcome to the CIM Marketing podcast. The contents and views expressed by individuals in the CIM marketing podcast are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of the companies they work for. We hope you enjoy the episode.

Ben Walker  00:18

Hello, everybody and welcome to the CRM marketing podcast. And you know marketing is a sector that is about two thirds women, it is a heavily feminised sector. And therefore, how to lead and manage a female workforce and how women can use their voices to be powerful leaders and team members is a topic that is close to many of our audience's hearts. It is not something I can claim to be expert in.

But thankfully, I have two ladies with me today who are experts in this and those ladies are Abigail Goldsbrough, who is a senior communications director, and Emma Weiner, who is voice coach at speaking at work. Ladies, how are you today?

Emma Wainer  01:01

Very well. Thank you, Ben. Thank you for having us on. It's great to be here.

Abi Goldsbrough  01:04

Yes, I'm very delighted to be here. Thank you for the invitation.

Ben Walker  01:07

Now Emma, you're a voice coach, which some people have an idea of what it is. But can you put a little bit of flesh on the bone and tell us what it is that you do in your work?

Emma Wainer  01:17

Yes, certainly. So I work mainly with women, and I help them raise their visibility and their credibility at work through what they say and how they say it. That's the really important bit, not so much what they say. But how they say it. Now, for instance, your audience, even though they can't see me, the majority of them will never have met me in their lives, will have by this point decided whether or not I'm good at my job, simply by the way that I sound, the way that I use my voice, because the way that I use my voice will, will show how I'm using my body, it will show up whether I'm feeling confident whether I really know my stuff or not.

So, I work with women to make sure that every time they stand up, they're doing that they're really showing their audience that they're experts that they really know what they're talking about through how they're speaking.

Ben Walker  02:06

That is absolutely mind blowing. We've my timer says we've just been speaking for about eight seconds, Now you, you're saying that took about eight seconds. And you're saying in that eight seconds or so our audience will have already decided they will have made a judgement on whether you're good at your job.

Emma Wainer  02:24

Yeah, I mean, there's lots of different research, some say up to seven seconds, there's lots of research to actually suggest they'll decide before you even speak simply by how you're holding your body and how you're breathing.

Ben Walker  02:35

If I can see you, crikey. So that's an important thing to get right? Your voice, your posture, the way you show up in front of an audience. Why is it that you focus on women particularly?

Emma Wainer  02:47

I think women have a particular set of issues when it comes to the workspace. So again, based on research, women get about two thirds of the airtime that men do in meetings, and how much airtime you get will dictate how much of an expert you are perceived to be.

So, there's a lot about the sort of culture and the climate that women working, that doesn't necessarily make it easy to get airtime. But by working with them to work on their confidence to work on their mindset, and then to work on the technical speaking skills, they can then create climates where they can get their point across, get heard, get recognised for their expertise, and then get rewarded for the input that they're having to that organisation.

Ben Walker  03:34

I'll do a horrible journalist thing of trying to get you to completely oversimplify a very complex and important task that you do with your clients. But if you can just indulge me for a second, what are the key tips you give to your clients to bring them into that confidence space?

Emma Wainer  03:50

I think the biggest one and the sort of underlying kind of factor to it all is that everything you think will leak out of your body somehow or another. So working on on your mindset working on your sense of enoughness dialling down that inner critic dialling up the inner mentor that is absolutely critical to come across in a very authentic way that shows your leadership skills. So it's really about working on on the mindset first of all, and then your body will follow suit.

Ben Walker  04:24

The inner critic, the imposter syndrome, Abigail, is that something that as a comms director and a women in business have a senior women in business. You've worked with lots of leaders, female leaders, that's something that you have encountered yourself or in others.

Abi Goldsbrough  04:39

So I really think about imposter syndrome as a confidence gap. It's those feelings of inadequacy and self doubt which can creep up on anyone, especially when individuals have perhaps been promoted into a new role, or when leaders are trying to take a business in a new direction.

It can also happen at times such as returning from parent leave, were often parents returning to work who need to be in a different working rhythm, feel that they need to be enough to stand up to what the job requires. And I think ways to overcome impostor syndrome include really identifying who your stakeholders are mapping out what their expectations are. And then also identifying some quick wins that you can make, to help give yourself a sense of making progress and really achieving the goals you've set out to do.

Also, it's important to say yes to opportunities rather than to talk yourself out of them. And I find that it's really helpful sometimes to reframe the opportunity and practice positive self reflection, maybe find a new way of describing what it is you're doing and track your progress. I think when you are feeling impostor syndrome, it helps to have small goals and to actually celebrate achieving them. And also, and I think women can be particularly guilty of this, we do need to let go of being perfectionists. And there's, there's a lot to be gained by showing humility and learning from your mistakes and being able to tell that as part of your story.

Ben Walker  06:03

That's great tips, Emma is it something we can do with our voice? If we're suffering from impostor syndrome?

Emma Wainer  06:09

Yeah, I think it's really interesting. What Abigail was just saying that, you know, as human beings were designed to look at the gap. You know, that's how we stay alive. We look out for the danger, we don't look for the good. So often when we have been speaking, and we come up with like, Oh, I didn't say this. And I missed that slide on the deck? And I didn't answer that question. Probably, we think about all the things that we did wrong, all of them. And it's usually a really, really long list. And we never really think about the things that we did well.

So, I think one of the things that we can, we can definitely start doing is more positively reflecting looking at the game. What did I do? Well, how do I make a connection with this audience? How did I serve this audience in a way that's gonna be beneficial to them? How did I help them make their lives easier, their jobs easier, whatever it might be, and really focusing on what you did really, really well. I think, though, that sort of, is something that you can continue to do the entire time.

But in terms of using your voice, to dial down that inner critic, part of it is about having a conversation. You know, just like we would with another human being and your inner critic is really having a go and saying, Yeah, don't do this, you're gonna mess it up, you're gonna make a fool of yourself, you know, it's an opportunity to say, Well, yeah, I might do that, I might mess it up, I might say the wrong thing. But I'm okay with that. I'm gonna do it anyway, because I have an opportunity to grow, to stretch to expand my skills, or my reach, or whatever it might be. So I think definitely having a conversation with your inner critic is super, super useful. And taking up space, you know, your inner critic wants us to be body small, it wants us to be less, so that we are safe, we are not about to get eaten by the dinosaur, which it thinks is coming around the corner.

Ben Walker  07:51

With physical space we're talking about this is the amount of space that one takes up and the room you're talking about here.

Emma Wainer  07:57

Absolutely. Because if we're feeling if our imposter syndrome is having a party, and it is really giving us a good going over, we will shrink our body. So our shoulders will roll forward, we'll probably put our arms in front of our body, almost certainly cross our feet, we'll do all those things to make ourselves smaller, because we're a smaller target at that stage.

Now, if you go back to what I was saying, right at the beginning, your audience are reading that they're reading your body language, they're saying, oh, this person is not feeling super confident about what they're saying, I'm not sure I can believe their message. So by taking up space, we're indicating to the brain that actually we're just fine. This is all okay, I'm totally under control here. And it can just start to just damp down some of the imposter syndrome, noise, that internal noise that we get, because we really want to do that. Because if we don't, we're not going to be totally present to our audience.

Ben Walker  08:48

You're a business leader out there your big recruiter in the space, is it those sorts of things that cues that you notice in people that are showing a lack of competence? Are there things that you pick up as a leader when you're recruiting or meeting people in the workspace?

Abi Goldsbrough  09:01

Absolutely, I think body language, even through digital means, like video calls really shines through. And I think some of the conscious things that you can do is to start by working on your posture. So I often encourage people just to think about the invisible thread lifting them up so that their posture is good, like a ballerina dancer, you've got a straight back and you are walking and showing poise.

You know, a big part of what I do as a communications director is to work with senior leaders to prepare them for centre stage. And that includes coaching on messaging, but also the delivery of those messages. And then also teaching them techniques that involve things such as bridging to ensure that the key messages that they want to convey are being heard. And I think most leaders benefit from really being able to get their posture and their tone of voice right and at the end of the day, what they're saying is important, but the impact they're having is where the focus needs to be. And there's one consistent theme I've seen throughout my career working with both men and women in leadership positions. And that is, leaders that rehearse are the most incredible people when it comes to delivery.

So the most compelling presentations given on a big stage are by people who've worked incredibly hard to prepare, there is no such thing as winging it. Brilliant presenters always put the prep time in, they know what their outcome is going to be. And they work very hard to achieve that.

Ben Walker  10:24

You've worked with some male clients, not many, Emma, but some do you notice a difference or the way that they presented, the way they show up tend to they're using their voice and body language.

Emma Wainer  10:33

I think there's, there's two things at play here. So the first one we can do nothing about, and that's biology. So men's voices, so their vocal tract, so their mouth, their throat, that the actual larynx itself is bigger. And because it's a bigger space, the resonance that they're able to create is on a deeper level. So it's a lower tone. So in nature, we find as human beings, lower tones means it's safe, it's fine, it's all good. And higher tones come from smaller spaces. So women's vocal tracts are smaller, allowing smaller amounts of smaller throats are smaller. So our pitch of voice is generally a little bit higher. And in nature, high sounds or sounds of danger, you know, babies crying, sirens, those kinds of things. So we have a little bit of a disadvantage if you like, because, biologically, our vocal tracts are just smaller. So our our voices are higher.

But going back to what Abigail was just saying about how we hold our bodies, and how we stand and posture, actually, one of the things that I work with women on almost immediately, is what they're doing with their feet. And I know that sounds totally nuts, but actually, wherever your feet are, so if your feet are too close together or crossed, your posture is going to be off, if they're too far apart, you actually won't be able to breathe properly. And so if we can't provide the right amount of breadth of understanding, well, we won't be able to provide the right amount of breath, our voices can become disembodied. So I'm going to try and imitate what that sounds like. So, so disembodied voice sounds like this. So I haven't changed the pitch.

But I'm just now imagining that my voice is only coming out of my head. So I'm thinking my words, and the words are coming out of my head. Now, if I put my feet back on the floor, and I just relax and allow my voice to become embodied, can you hear the difference? So I now sound like an expert. I sound like I know what I'm talking about. I knew what I was talking about a minute ago, I just didn't sound like it. And it's all to do with how my feet are placed on the floor, and how I think about myself. And those two things combined, make a huge difference. So there is that. And then there's the Linguistics of it. So women tend to collaborate. Men tend to be much more directive, they use shorter sentences. It's much more declarative, whereas women want to collaborate. So we ask more questions.

Abi Goldsbrough  12:52

And I also think women can use this difference to their advantage. So actually being different in the room, as long as you are grounded. As Emma said, you can use the fact that your voice sounds different to capture people's attention in a different way. I think that a woman speaking quietly, in a room full of men who had perhaps been speaking loudly, would actually be heard very, very quickly because of that difference. So I think it's important to also think of the the tone of voice and the pitch of the voice and really use that to your advantage rather than feeling disadvantaged by it.

Ben Walker  13:22

It is actually fascinating. I have to say since you mentioned a few of those tips with a head on a piece of cotton I found myself trying to straighten my back. And then if you saw that, I've crossed my legs and uncrossed them since you were speaking.

But you know what this stuff matters doesn't it matters for men and women it particularly matters for women, there is this mind blowing statistic in the latest issue of Catalyst magazine, CIM's membership magazine, that said that 57% of men in a university study had negotiated their salary from presumably upwards one would assume, compared to just 7% of women. The difference - 50 percentage point difference. Abigail, makes a massive difference. It's not what's inside the people. It's not the talent, it's probably confidence, isn't it?

Abi Goldsbrough  14:05

I think then it starts with ask for what you want. Don't ask for what you think you'll get. And I think women need to understand what they have to offer. Some of the techniques that we will be encouraging them to do are really about building at and understanding your value, as well as doing some of that benchmarking to understand your worth, and to really be confident to make some of those bold career moves that are the type of moves that actually help to increase earning and improve your position in the workplace.

Saying that there's a lot that organisations can do to provide the right support to enable people to continue having a great career, particularly after having children which is the time at which we see a lot of woman perhaps moving out of the workforce for a period of time. And for me organisations should be aware of the things that they can tangibly do to bring women back into senior roles to continue to develop their careers with confidence

Abi Goldsbrough  15:00

I mean, I think a great deal of its structural actually, and organisations can make conscious decisions around diversity, equity and inclusion, which as you know, is so important. And it's vital that leaders today are aware of this. So the way I like to think of it is diversity is being asked to the party. Inclusion is being asked to dance.

Belonging is being able to dance how you want, and equity is picking the DJ. And the best practices in diversity and inclusion lead to the best outcomes of belonging and equity. So simple things that an organisation can do could be around representation, and making sure that people in the room are a diverse cross section of the organisation. So that's one thing. Having meetings within working hours meetings that start outside of the school run, for example, makes a huge difference. Creating networking opportunities that are not always in the evening, is a way of actually enabling women to join those meetings, and to be part of those forums where they can increase their network and make those decisions. I think something we need to think about though, is equity, because equity is about the power of decisions, which are so often made behind the scenes. And it's really important for organisations to hold the mirror up and understand how decisions are being made. And whether or not those decisions or those forums are disadvantaging certain groups of people.

Ben Walker  15:00

Other things we can do beyond the confidence in the individual. But to build confidence in teams and other women, one thing we've talked about in the past is networking, in marketing and the fact that despite the fact we talked at the top of the show 66% of the marketing sector as a whole is female, after you've looked at the top echelons of the marketing sector, you will find that as actually a majority male, so a lot of what's talking about is the network, are men better at pulling each other up the ranks and is so what do we need to do about it Abi?

Ben Walker  16:52

Emma, you spoke earlier, actually, no, but you were talking about collaborative language versus clarifying language. So language, short sentences from men, which those this is what we're going to do, I'm just gonna keep it simple. But actually, it's not very conversational, or discursive. And you said that women tend to be more collaborative in their language, and then ask more questions. And what I found myself thinking was, that actually wouldn't be better if that collaborative language is valued better, rather than the fact that there is a premium on the simple instruction.

Emma Wainer  17:21

Absolutely. I think you're so right there, the problem has to do with status. So biologically, men compete for status. And they do that through conversation. Women do collaborate. And I think also there's, you know, there's a lot of statistics that women are incredible networkers, they really are very good, because they like to collaborate, they ask great questions, but they do it at a peer level. So they go across their organisations or their industry and down, they don't go up. So they're very shy. And Shy is probably the wrong word.

But they're cautious about networking above, they're sort of given station if you like their rank. And I think a lot of that has to do with a sense of enoughness. So on the whole, most of the women that I work with have some degree of not feeling like they're enough. And Abigail, you were talking about, you know, moms returning to work, you know, that sense of not being enough of a mother, not being enough with my colleague not being enough of an employee, you know, you're juggling a lot of stuff at that point. And so it's very hard at that point to go and negotiate for a pay rise, or go and think I'm going to chat to the CEO, because I want to tell him or her about this, or I want to, you know, it can be very hard if you're feeling that sort of sense of not being enough, because you're stretched too much across different platforms, to be able to go in and really make a case yourself,

Ben Walker  18:37

Does it require them to go against their natural instinct to do that? Is it just about retraining your brain or retraining, how you show up?

Abi Goldsbrough  18:44

I absolutely think that through doing things such as stakeholder maps, you can retrain yourself to be brave. And the use of things like positive affirmations that act of telling yourself that you're good enough that act of telling yourself that you're worth it. And then making those bold steps forward can really help to change your ability to have a dialogue with the right people, it's really important to understand who it is that you need to be working with, to get things done in an organisation, and how you get things done within an organisation.

And I think that is within the gift of everybody to continue to challenge themselves and really aim for continuous improvement. One of the things that I find incredibly helpful actually, is doing continued professional development every year, which I do in my role as a CIM fellow, because that forces me to challenge myself to grow as an individual and to try new things and to learn new things. And all of that builds confidence at the end of the day.

Emma Wainer  19:40

I think there's a big opportunity to reframe a lot of women that when they come to me, one of the things we discussed the beginning that goals, they say I want competence. And it's always at that point, I have to say okay, confidence is a byproduct. It is not something you're gonna learn, you're going to get it from doing.

So, you know, creating that stakeholder map that I He was just describing or, you know, planning out in your head what it is you want to say and why you want to say it, how is this going to be helpful? How are we going to take this conversation forward, and then going and doing it. That's how you build confidence. That's how that sense of being enough gets built up, you don't get the confidence and then go and do it, it doesn't work that way around. So reframing and retraining your brain is is a critical critical skill here.

Ben Walker  20:25

Well, that's surely falls into the category was, say a marketing podcast mega tip that did actually you cannot buy confidence is not something you can learn, it will something that will naturally flow from you if you take the other necessary steps, some of which we've talked about today. Abi, you've progressed in your role you work with senior leaders, do you think the pressure on female leaders specifically has become greater in recent years?

Abi Goldsbrough  20:54

You know, Ben, we live in such uncertain times at the moment, there are macro economic factors, putting pressure on business, you know, the economy, supply chain inflation, there's hyper competitiveness in some industries. And I think all leaders have a battle for Share of Voice. and business leaders on top also have a battle for the share of wallet. But the leadership fundamentals remain the same. Showing your team that you have a vision, offering clarity about what it is, what the purpose of the organisation is, and what people are there to do.

Being consistent in terms of how you show up and how you deliver your messages and how you support the team. And also surrounding yourself with a great team and empowering that team to deliver offer me the leadership fundamentals that haven't changed, despite the world today being very different from the world that perhaps we were operating in 10 or 20 years ago. And I think something which for me is fundamental about leadership is that people may forget what you say, but they will always remember how you made them feel. And as Emma has said, they will always remember whether or not you are confident delivering that message. And if you are, they will take that away, and they will believe you and they will want to follow you because there'll be able to relate to your vision.

Ben Walker  22:06

So the context has changed, there's a probably a more difficult landscape of uncertainty, and so on and so forth. But the fundamental steps that we need to take to get that byproduct, which were called Confidence, haven't changed, they're immutable.

Emma Wainer  22:22

I think because we're dealing with human beings, you know, all businesses, whatever the business is, is a business of human beings. You know, they might be producing something physical, they may be producing something intangible, but it's a, it's a business of people. And so when, as a leader, you're communicating, you need to really be communicating clarity. So what is it you want these people to do? And when and how, and all that kind of what is the vision? And so like, every was just saying, you know? Where are we going? That, you know, can you draw that map? Verbally? Can you embody that so that they really believe you? And then can you create a connection between them? So like, this is where you want them to go? But why should they go there? Why should they care? Why should they get up at 630 in the morning, and you know, get on a crowded tube to come to work to do that thing?

So can you create a connection, based on the compelling-ness of your vision with the people that you're talking to? And I mean, this in terms of when we're presenting, but also just in daily communication? That is so important. And then can you do it in a credible fashion, because if you can do that, then they will feel that they know where they're going, they'll feel safe in your hands, and they'll feel compelled to complete that vision for you. Because they want to follow you because you're credible, you live your values, you do what you said, you're going to do you support them. So I think that like, like Abi was saying, there's a lot that's changed in the world, but the human beings that are in it, want to be seen and heard. And so the way that we communicate with them hasn't changed at all.

Abi Goldsbrough  23:48

And I think it's important to remember as well, that brands and reputation take years to build and a very short time to break. And unfortunately, the pressure this does create for for leaders or people in high profile roles is down to the fact that they're basically always on I think, especially in today's world where mobile phones and social media mean that news can spread very, very instantly and quickly. leaders do need to remember that when they are in a public setting, people are watching them, the eyes are on them. And with that comes a certain set of expected behaviours that need to be maintained, no matter what the situation. And I think that's really important for leaders to factor in that pressure when they're making decisions about whether or not to take that role that's gonna put them in the spotlight.

Ben Walker  24:32

Yeah, these are great insights. These are amazing insights. And I know I've been compelled by them and I know that our audience will be so Emma if people want to learn these presentational techniques, first and foremost, where can they go to find resources and the tips that they need?

Emma Wainer  24:48

There are some amazing books out there. They really are. I would recommend Patsy Rodenburg she's got amazing books. I'm just gonna get my bookshelf up here just a moment. Tara Moore, I think is an excellent book about playing big, just brilliant, I use so much of her stuff all the time, particularly around building your inner mentor, the thing that I would say, that is really, really important to consider is knowing what you should be doing cognitively. So knowing in your mind what I should be saying, and how I should be saying it. And how I should I use my body is one thing, it is not the same as doing.

So I would definitely go find yourself a space where you can practice the doing, go find yourself, somebody who's gonna give you honest feedback about what you're doing and the impact that you're having. Because it's really only when those skills become embodied when when you literally don't need to think about it. Like, I'm sure you don't need to think about how you drive now you've been doing it for so long, it just happens. You get in the car and you get home, you're like, oh, I don't even remember the journey. The skills need to be that embodied. So you're not even thinking about it. And then you can focus on your audience, then you can focus on the message. And that's when you really start to make an impact. What about you,

Ben Walker  25:56

people who want to be a leader or ambitions to be a leader as a woman in business? Where should they go?

Abi Goldsbrough  26:02

I guess the first thing is to find a way to identify and play to your strengths, because that's how you really build credibility, doing the things that you are best at. And then also, I think LinkedIn should become a 10 minute a day habit for everyone. Because not only is it an opportunity to learn and to follow influencers and companies that are of interest to you.

But it's also an opportunity to get involved in the conversation. And I like to think of LinkedIn as a force for good being well read is important. I know a lot of people are time starved. So the other thing I would recommend is really just keeping your tank full understanding where it is as an individual that you get your energy from, and to make sure that you are doing the things that actually give you that base that allows you to be credible and powerful at work.

Ben Walker  26:48

And can anybody do it? Can everybody build this confidence? Can everybody lead? Is that something within all of us?

Abi Goldsbrough  26:53


Emma Wainer  26:55

Totally great, great leaders, great speakers, great communicators, they are not born they are made. That is literally my mantra. I say that so many times a day. It is really about learning the skills and then trusting yourself to use them. So yes, everybody can learn to be an incredible leader and communicator.

Ben Walker  27:14

Sounds like a great way to finish ladies. Emma Wainer, Abigail Goldsbrough, thank you very much indeed for your time and insights today, and I do want to get you back on the CIM marketing podcasts very soon indeed. Thanks very much.

Sophie Peterson  27:27

Thank you. If you've enjoyed this episode, be sure to subscribe to the car marketing podcast on your platform of choice. If you're listening on Apple podcasts, please leave us a rating and review. We'd love to hear your feedback at CIM Marketing podcast.


Ben Walker Host CIM Marketing Podcast
Abigail Goldsbrough Communications director
Emma Wainer Voice coach Speaking at Work
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