How Women Can Speak Up, Stand Out, and Succeed
Are you a woman wondering how you can succeed in this all too male world?
Then, time to learn a lesson or two in “Taking the Stage,” sister!
Who Should Read “Taking the Stage”? And Why?
Let’s eliminate about 50% of the world’s population straight away: this book doesn’t concern men, and they will find nothing even remotely interesting or applicable here. (One more reason why you should always read the subtitle first: titles are just too poetic to be straight to the point!)
However, the other half of the population should really give this book a go!
Because even though its main target audience is women in the corporate world, it doesn’t hurt to know how you can communicate leadership even if you can use the knowledge merely in somewhat trivial, day to day situations.
About Judith Humphrey
Judith Humphrey is a Toronto-based entrepreneur and author.
In 1988, Humphrey founded the Humphrey Group, the first Canadian leadership communication firm to focus on teaching executives and leaders how to be effective speakers.
In the three decades since its inception, the firm has built a portfolio of high-quality clients, including IBM, Microsoft, Deloitte, Walmart, and TD Bank.
An acclaimed speaker and part-time columnist in “Fast Company,” Humphrey is the author of one more book in addition to “Taking the Stage” – “Speaking as a Leader.”
“Taking the Stage PDF Summary”
Have you ever heard of a little thing called “The Impostor Syndrome”?
If not, that’s a psychological condition which makes an individual feel as if he or she is not worthy of his/her career and that, anytime soon, he/she will be exposed by someone as a “fraud.”
And this goes against the external evidence, in spite of the abundance of which, these individuals still believe that they have become successful merely due to luck or chance!
The worst part is that we kind of used too many pronouns in the sentence above: scratch the “hes” and the “hises” because, unsurprisingly, the Impostor Syndrome is all but an exclusively female category!
Judith Humphrey claims that 9 out of the 10 women who sought leadership advice from her and the Humphrey Group were plagued by the feeling of imposterism, speaking to themselves with a “negative internal voice”!
But how can they not?
After all, we live in a society which teaches boys to be competitive and outspoken and girls to be humble and passive.
It’s only normal that men end up believing that leadership roles are within their natural predisposition as opposed to women who think that these are everything they shouldn’t be:
Men tend to take pride in their strengths and accept compliments, whereas women are more likely to point out their flaws, disclose their fears and dismiss their strengths.
Challenge the status quo:
It’s time for us to claim our place on center stage. As we do so, we will discover in ourselves a stronger, clearer, more influential voice that can change us, change others, change our companies and change the world.
First step: don’t allow to be interrupted!
Studies have shown that the majority of interruptions in conversations occur when males interrupt females, and only a small minority happen the other way around.
So, change that: when interrupted from now on, raise your palm in the direction of the person who interrupts you and say “Hold on!”
Afraid that you will be described as “aggressive” or “overbearing”?
Well, that brings us to the second step: don’t be afraid of being described as “bossy”!
“Bossy” is one of the many adjectives male employees use to downgrade women’s qualities and abilities.
In “Lean In,” Sheryl Sandberg reminded us that the majority of women have been accused of behaving aggressively; strangely, barely few men have ever experienced the same.
So, from now on, take this kind of attitude from your male co-workers as a compliment instead of taking it as an insult: obviously, you’ve become a threat; potentially, you can lead them instead of being led by them.
Step three: change your language and change your attitude!
As we said above, as opposed to men who highlight their strengths, women tend to draw attention to their weaknesses.
So, time to put an end to quite a few phrases and speech patterns which say a lot more than you intend to:
#1. “Do you mind if I add something…” – Nobody should mind: just add what you want to add.
#2. “I guess…” – No: you know.
#3. “This is probably a stupid question but…” – Don’t undermine yourself: it’s not!
#4. “I just wanted to spend a few minutes…” – Don’ use past tense when talking about the future.
#5. “Probably” is “always” from now on!
We go over a few more tips and tricks in our “Key Lessons” section!
Key Lessons from “Taking the Stage”
1. Develop Your Voice
2. Choose a Suitable Wardrobe
3. Stand Out on Stage
Develop Your Voice
There’s really no such thing as the voiceless,” writes Arundhati Roy. “There are only the deliberately silenced, or the preferably unheard.
Don’t allow to be one of these two groups: develop a voice which breaks through the barriers you had to put up with ever since childhood.
So, no more “the little-girl voice” or “the cheerleader voice,” “the girlfriend voice” or “the maternal voice,” “the nice voice” or “the grateful voice.”
No more attempts at emulating “the manly voice” either!
It’s time to find your own unique voice, which you should develop on the background of calmness, gravitas, and pride – the qualities of all true leaders.
Add some body to it as well: you already know that your body language shapes who you are!
Choose a Suitable Wardrobe
Here are few tips from Judith Humphrey concerning your wardrobe:
#1. Wear clothes that reflect the workplace you want to have in the future, and not such which reflect the one you currently have;
#2. If you have a meeting, prepare yourself accordingly;
#3. Instead of highlighting it, deemphasize sexuality with your wardrobe;
#4. Avoid haircuts or accessories which will turn other people’s attention from your corporate appearance.
Stand Out on Stage
Your future depends on your presence. No, that’s not a mistake – it’s just a clumsy pun.
Presence is not to be confused with charisma,” writes Humphrey. “Charisma involves a bit of flash. It is an aspect of certain personalities. Presence comes from a deeper, more personal place.
Dig deep and find that place.
That way, you’ll always stand out on stage!
Like this summary? We’d like to invite you to download our free 12 min app, for more amazing summaries and audiobooks.
“Taking the Stage Quotes”
Our Critical Review
Even though “Taking the Stage” claims that it is about all women (“no matter their age, rank, or profession”) one feels that no more than two groups of women can really profit from reading this book: those who are at a more junior stage and have time to learn how to assert their authority, and those who are already at a higher level
“Blue-collar” women workers – i.e., those who are working in a men’s environment and want to make themselves heard (but are unable to) – may feel that the book leaves somewhat to be desired.
We feel the same way too.