Storytelling : Women in Boardrooms Part 1 of 5

Boardroom communication challenges for women, in a corporate setting is a less discussed topic.

A lot has been written about ways women can find their voice on a stage.

Prerequisites of an effective stage delivery are

Credibility, that based on your track record and experience you are trusted to speak on the topic.

Self confidence, that you yourself believe that you are the right person to speak on the topic.

However, boardroom communication requires more than credibility and self confidence. Boardrooms are about interruptions, being ignored and being challenged.

My years of work in storytelling has given me many opportunities to work with women leaders and through this work, I noticed that there is a common theme in stories I hear from women. Majority of the stories that shake women’s confidence take place in a boardroom meeting, presentation or a discussion. This discovery piqued my interest and triggered a qualitative research project on storytelling for women.

Every week for the next 5 weeks I will share with you some stories and strategies on the topic of women in boardrooms that I am discovering through my research. In this blog, I share with you a strategy from the White House boardroom

 Amplification Strategy

When President Obama took office, two-thirds of his top aides were men. Women complained of having to elbow their way into important meetings. And when they got in, their voices were sometimes ignored.

 So female staffers adopted a meeting strategy they called “amplification”: When a woman made a key point, other women would repeat it, giving credit to its author. Women would hammer across one another’s points during meetings. After one woman offered an idea, if it wasn’t acknowledged, another woman would repeat it and give her colleague credit for suggesting it.

This forced the men in the room to recognise the contribution — and denied them the chance to claim the idea as their own.

“We just started doing it, and made a purpose of doing it. It was an everyday thing,” said one former Obama aide who requested anonymity to speak frankly. Obama noticed, she and others said, and began calling more often on women and junior aides.

At the Internet Association’s annual conference in Menlo Park, Calif., on Oct. 11, New York Times reporter Cecilia Kang asked Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg what she thought ( if you watch the video in the link she makes a mention of this idea at time marker 33 mins 20 secs ) about the “amplification” strategy, to which she replied, “Oh, it’s huge.

The point here is that women do not get mentors and sponsors in corporate world as fast as men to do. So, they have to start peer mentoring to see the level of women in power rise.

In my years of working in corporates, I have learnt that when women work together great things happen but that is one weapon we rarely use.

This 5 part blog series called Women in Boardrooms is written to help women in workforce with key communication challenges in a boardroom environment.

Research Sources :

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