Do audiences prefer men?

It may not be clear to everyone why public speaking training for women is important. It's not because women are less confident or less competent public speakers than men; it's because audiences prefer men. Harsh, but true.

A woman can tell the same jokes as a man and be viewed not only as having lower status, but as less capable. Women are judged more harshly - by audiences of men and women - on how they sound, how they dress and how they come across. Women have to work harder to be considered funny, likeable, knowledgeable or insightful.

Couple this with the traditional management of speaking events. Too many event organisers worry more about how their event will be perceived than how to provide women with the best public platform. As a result, women are often last minute additions to expert panels or conference line-ups; giving them less time to prepare, less visibility and, ultimately, less authority.

In an ideal world women wouldn't have to come up with strategies to overcome audience bias but, until the promised day comes, you can help yourself by helping them get over it. Disarm your audience quickly with the cool, the quirky and the unexpected. Then watch them relax into their seats as they realise they were wrong to doubt you all along.

If none of this convinces you to invest in public speaking training for women, then there is always the bottom line. People with good oral communication skills earn more than those without. Take that gender pay gap! If I were a rich girl... na nah na nah na na nah...

Join professional speechwriter Laura Westring for Vocalcoach public speaking for women on Friday 29th November in Edinburgh.