Grabbing opportunities to showcase your skills in a public arena is key to fulfilling your ambitions, writes Lucy Ward, creative brand director at Trouva.

There’s still a long way to go when it comes to normalising the idea of women in leadership positions.

Female success in any industry – whether male-dominated or not – shouldn’t be seen as rare; it should be a tangible dream for every woman out there.

As it currently stands, too many incredible women lack the confidence to shout about and believe in their own achievements.

This means that all too often they pass up opportunities presented to them, without even considering that they’re the best (wo)man for the job.

It was recently highlighted to me by Retail Week that one area in which this occurs is women not taking up speaker slots at events.

So here are my thoughts on why learning to say ‘yes’ to public speaking opportunities is a must, both for personal growth and for showcasing female success to others.

Tell your story

I consider myself fortunate that in my career I’ve had several public profiling opportunities presented to me, from panels to dinners to formal conferences.

The thought of speaking in front of a room full of people, especially when I first started, was always overwhelming, but it is important to realise how totally normal this fear is – whether you’re a man or a woman.

The point is that when asked, wherever possible, I would grab the chance to tell both my story and, of course, the Trouva story.

Over time, my confidence grew and with each new speaking event I learnt something about myself.

I am also lucky to have a strong support network around me that has guided me in my preparation and practice, which is why I’ve become such a strong advocate of finding mentors in the workplace and beyond.

My role at Trouva means I’m passionate about empowering the high street’s smaller players to succeed and, as a woman, I’m just as passionate about ensuring women don’t let any opportunity pass them by.

Here are some simple tips I follow every time I take up a speaking opportunity: 

  • Be prepared, but not over-rehearsed: No matter how nervous you are, remember you were offered this opportunity because you know what you’re talking about. And that means that you shouldn’t feel the need to learn a script – it can often be a stumbling block on the day.
  • Take cue cards: There’s nothing to be ashamed of if you want to use these as a prompt – and they can often help you to take notes or incorporate comments from previous speakers to link up the sessions.
  • Get an early night: You can’t beat being well rested and starting the day feeling fresh – it’s a feeling of relaxation you take with you up on stage. So try to stay calm and keep off the caffeine in the run up.

My rallying cry to all of you is that if you are asked to speak at an event say ‘yes’.

Do it for yourself, for the business you work for and for the people in attendance – so they can see more women up there in the spotlight showcasing their achievements and balancing out our male counterparts on stage.

Lucy ward trouva

Lucy Ward is a proud ambassador for Retail Week’s Be Inspired campaign. Find out more here