Women at DocuSign: As women, when do we lose the confidence to shine?
Last week DocuSign hosted arguably its most exciting annual conference yet, and the task ahead of me is to follow suit by bringing the very latest in agreement digitisation and management technology to Australian audiences. And, we’re more than ready to hear it, if our recent data centre launch is anything to go by, where the minister for digital transformation, Hon. Michael Keenan, declared; “Services like the ones that DocuSign are working on here in Australia are very important to the government,” as reported by IT Brief.
The question is, who will join me? I say that tongue in cheek. But, only half.
Let me explain why.
Last night I arrived home to another show from my six-year-old daughter. She had laid out the stage (a patchwork quilt), lined up the audience (Beanie Boos), and deployed my husband’s skills as a curtain. I dutifully sat down to a half hour of singing and dancing, followed by bows and self-congratulation.
She’s my third child and my only girl. And, it occurred to me, my boys didn’t do this. It was the same for me growing up with brothers. I was the one to put my parents through performance after performance. Singing, dancing, primary school jokes – anything that would turn eyes toward me. My husband, also one of three siblings, one of whom is female, recalls his sister doing the same.
So why, then, do I spend so much more time persuading females to take the stage than I do males? As women, at what age do we lose the desire to perform?
Of course there are exceptions, but my experience of engaging speakers to share their incredible stories with large audiences is that it takes longer and requires more effort to convince females to take to the stage.
RADA (Royal Academy of Dramatic Art) agrees, citing research that indicates while men fear socialising, women fear presenting. Its study of 1,000 workplaces uncovered that female employees display greater levels of anxiety than their male counterparts when talking to groups
What’s clear to me is that I’m not alone in wanting to encourage anxious female visionaries into spotlight. Ryan Bonnici, Chief Marketing Officer at G2 Crowd, recently called time on the all-male speaker panel, taking the compilation of a 1,000-name female speaker list into his own hands, in a LinkedIn post leveraging the hashtag #timeisup.
What’s the answer?
I turned to a few of DocuSign’s seasoned female presenters to find out what gives them confidence to perform, and here’s what they said:
“I think the best presenters refine their material and style for the specific audience. When I prepare for a presentation, I think about how I can best connect with the audience, and when possible, I practice in front of someone who can represent that audience. Practice is the best way to increase confidence.” --- Robin Joy, Senior Vice President of Digital, Demand and Web Sales, DocuSign.
“For me, confidence in my presentation comes from really knowing the material. I practice as much as I can, but I avoid using a script. That way, when I’m in front of people, I’m not trying to remember words I memorised, I’m just trying to explain a concept I already know about.” --- Eve Alexander, Senior Director, Product Marketing, DocuSign
Or you can always deploy some “Alaskan grit”, confidence as defined by our CTO Kirsten Wolberg in this recent blog post: Why Confidence is a Critical Trait for Female Leaders.
With our own annual event, Momentum Melbourne, coming up fast on Aug 21 – encompassing everything from eSignature technology to the modern business’ system of agreement - may our most inspirational speakers boldly step forward and take the stage.
Register here to join us on the day.