Without a doubt, women dominate the PR industry. The numbers don’t lie. In 2010, Forbes reported that 73 percent of the 21,000 PRSA members were women.
Despite this statistic, men dominate upper management by 80 percent, as also pointed out in the report. Ready for another jaw-dropping number? 4.2 percent. That’s the amount of Fortune 500 companies where women hold CEO positions.
Success is not measured strictly by whom you know or how you dress. Confidence cannot be taught, but rather developed. Women need to stick together and continue to succeed in this world under male superiority.
With this in mind, there are five things women in PR can do right now to improve their odds of moving up in the industry.
Use Meetings Wisely
First impressions are key; many of which are made within the first few seconds of a meeting, many times from non-verbal queues. When you walk into a meeting, walk in like you belong – head up, smile, make eye contact, and keep your hands by your side, besides for making a firm handshake!
Speak recommendations as statements not questions. This lets others know you are confident in what you are saying, and that confidence will be reciprocated. Make sure you know the different between a brainstorming thought and a thoughtful recommendation.
Be Purposeful with Words
Show people you have been attentive during your research process as well as during your meeting, by engaging in appropriate, relevant conversations. If your idea is unique and you present it with ease, you will typically be portrayed as confident.
Know How to Use Silence
At times, silence has the ability to create an uncomfortable environment. However, when using it properly it can be a very powerful tool. After you make a recommendation, remain silent. This will allow the idea to percolate in the minds of your audience. Let people respond when they are ready, not when you are. Pay attention to their non-verbal queues!
Practice and Prepare
Have to make a speech or presentation in front of a large audience? Practice what you are going to say in front of friends or family prior to the event. Ask them for feedback. If you are too nervous at first to practice in front of people, practice in front of your mirror.
Doing a run-through before a big speech or presentation allows you to catch any errors or awkward moments so you can avoid these mistakes during the presentation. It also lets you determine where there is room for improvement, or what parts should be omitted.
No matter how experienced you are, practicing will never hurt you.
Know How to React
Don’t take criticism too seriously. Learn to let things go.
When your primary focus is upward mobility, don’t sweat the little things. Spend time on what does matter. This will help you build a thicker skin and will let you stray away from the need for constant feedback. You will be so confident in your own work that you will no longer need constant reinforcement from people.
Trust your instincts. If you feel that your meeting went well, it most likely did.
Learn when it is appropriate to apologize. Apologize when there is a mistake on your behalf, not when others simply disagree with your plan of action.
Now, go get ‘em ladies. Get that promotion you’ve been working for, that raise your deserve. Be confident!