Emma Sinden

Ten things we learned about confidence building

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Confidence is one of the biggest factors holding women back as they navigate their digital careers. It’s an issue 10 Digital Ladies co-founder Lucia Adams has navigated first hand – both in her own career journey, as well as with the coaching clients she works with.

This month we were treated to a workshop by well-known BBC TV broadcasters Luisa Baldini and Louisa Preston. These two veterans of news broadcasting provided a fascinating insight into the tricks of projecting with confidence in front of an audience of millions. The workshop explored how we can start to build our own confidence and what we can do to appear confident even when we don’t feel it.

The event was once again held at the fantastic venue provided by our sponsors at Photobox and was an interactive affair with 10DL members trying their hands at rewriting a news story so that it could be delivered in 20 seconds.  

Here are the top ten pieces of advice that we took from our time with Louisa and Luisa:

Know when you can be assertive

Trying too hard to assert yourself can mean that you end up appearing argumentative or aggressive. When we are concerned we won’t be heard we might try to hard. Pick your moments.

The font of confidence: innate, underlying, immediate

There are three things you notice when you come across confident people. Firstly the confidence appears to be built in – they seem to be born with it. Secondly, it underpins everything about them – the way they stand, the way they speak and the way they move. Thirdly, it is immediate. They speak with confidence from the very first word.

Understand your personal brand

Confident people come in all shapes, sizes and styles. What is common to all of them is that they are comfortable in their skin. This comes from a real understanding of their personal brand. They know their strengths and weaknesses and they have created a brand that is built around those strengths.

Tackle your imposter syndrome

Imposter syndrome is something that most of us struggle with from time to time. Often the more successful we are the more of an issue it comes becomes. This is something that we need to tackle head on otherwise it will build and become a real barrier to building your confidence.

I am here and you will listen to me!

All too often we seem to want to want to ask permission to share our thinking. This often leads to a tone that is uncertain – as if we lack confidence in the veracity of what we are going to say. Whether you are a meeting or at an event you are there for a reason and we need to recognise the importance of your own contribution.

Hold your imaginary cloak in place – chin up and shoulders back!

When we lack confidence our posture gives us away. We tend to hunch forward – head down. Not only does this make you appear unconvinced in the importance of what you are saying it also makes it harder for others to hear you. If you imagine that you are wearing a cloak over your shoulders think about holding it in place – keep your shoulders back and your head up.

Do a quick count of three in between sentences to pace yourself

One of the common mistakes we make when speaking in front of a group of people is to rush our sentences. It is important to remember (especially if you are speaking in front of a large audience) that you need to drop your speaking pace and to pause. Pausing gives an impression of confidence and gives people time to absorb what you are saying. One simple trick is to count to 3 in your head between each sentence.

Video yourself – no matter how excruciating it feels!

Nobody likes to watch themselves on video. Most of us don’t even like to listen to our own voices but if you can bear the embarrassment it is well worth doing. It helps you understand any vocal or physical ticks you may be unaware of and understand how you are going to be perceived by your audience.

Have the confidence to do things slightly differently

The most memorable speeches we hear or conversations we have are the ones that aren’t quite what we expected. It might feel safer to follow tried and tested routes but it is by doing things a little differently that we can have the biggest impact.

Own your entrance!

It is important that you are delivering with confidence from the moment that you walk into a room. If you watch great orators take to a stage they have captured your attention before they even open their mouths.

Thanks again to everyone who made this such a good event. We had some fantastic feedback from our attendees and I am sure we will be calling on Louisa Preston and Luisa Baldini again for another session.

Remember, if you have any thoughts on building and projecting confidence and would like to share them with us please comment below or join us on Twitter or Instagram (@10digitalladies). As always, we encourage our community to offer ideas for our next 10 Digital Ladies book! If you still haven’t got your copy of our first book, Career Hacks, you can register for a copy here: http://bit.ly/10DLbook.

Emma SindenTen things we learned about confidence building
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Is it time to disrupt the traditional interview process for the sake of greater diversity?

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There can’t be many of us that would say we enjoy the interview process. At a point in our lives where many of us will be experiencing some doubt, anxiety and perhaps struggling with confidence – even if we are sure that moving roles is the right thing to do – we have to undergo a process that puts us in the spotlight and under pressure to perform.

This month 10 Digital Ladies and PhotoBox held an event to look at whether the traditional interview process creates particular issues for women and if it does, what the solutions could be. The stellar panel consisted of PhotoBox Chief of Product, Dave Wascha, The_Dots founder, Pip Jamieson, CTO of Monzo Bank, Meri Williams and Jo Wickremasinghe, Product Director at Babylon Health. It was in fact an interview that Jo attended with Dave Wascha that provided the trigger for the event. It was hosted by our own Lucia Adams.

It was a fascinating discussion that ranged across a wide variety of subjects all liked to why companies, even those with the best intentions, struggle to employ a diverse workforce. Here are ten things we learnt from the discussion

  1. Diversity is difficult even if you work really hard at it. This event came out of the fact that despite PhotoBox being completely committed to ensuring diversity in its workforce it struggled at times. “If a company as committed as us is finding it hard then there is lot that needs to happen before true diversity can become a reality for most organisations.” (Dave Wascha)
  2. This is not a ‘man’s issue’. Unconscious bias affects us all. “I was called out for the fact that although we have a huge commitment to flexibility for working mothers the same wasn’t true for our working fathers. That made me realise my own unconscious bias.” (Pip Jamieson)
  3. Diverse teams really do perform better. It is easy to hire what you know and what makes you comfortable but “in the end you will create a team in which everyone looks and behaves like you. When all the evidence shows diversity increases the odds of success that doesn’t seem like a smart plan.” (Meri Williams).
  4. There are already great examples of how companies are disrupting the hiring process themselves if you know where to find them. A lot of these examples come from the tech sector. “Pairing interviewers and interviewees together to solve a problem is quite common in the tech sector” (Meri Williams’ and “blind interviewing where feedback from one round of interviews is not shared with those doing the next round to prevent bias contagion has been the norm for a while at Microsoft” (Dave Wascha)
  5. The best companies hire to add culture not to fit into an existing one. “Everyone talks about cultural fit, but the secret of good hiring is actually cultural add. Look for people who will bring something different to the team” (Meri Williams)
  6. Be honest and don’t be afraid to be vulnerable. Interviews are full of unrealistic expectations. The interviewer doesn’t know anything about you and will make snap judgements. “It is far better to be honest about the things that you feel could be a barrier to expected performance. My dyslexia means sometimes I struggled to find the fight words. By explaining this up front, I created empathy and also understanding.” (Pip Jamieson)
  7. Be conscious you are hiring based on how well someone will do a job, not how well they perform at interview. This is very hard to do but “be aware that success is not about whether they pass the interview test but whether they will perform once the interview is over and they are working in the role” (Dave Wascha)
  8. There is an ‘I’ in team: give yourself credit for the things you have done. It might be a bit of a generalisation, but it is true to say that women are more likely to talk about ‘we’ than ‘I’. “There is nothing wrong with taking the credit for the things you have done. In my experience women simply don’t give themselves enough credit full stop.” (Jo Wickremasinghe)
  9. Practice makes perfect. “One of the reasons that men might outperform women in interview situations is that they do more of them. Research shows that men will attend interviews even when they are not that keen on the job. Women however are pickier” (Pip Jamieson). “There is no doubt that every time I have been actively interviewing, I have got more confident with each one I complete. It is an unnatural situation so the more familiar we can make it the better.” (Jo Wickremasinghe)
  10. Don’t sell yourself short! “In the digital and technology space in particular the ‘seller’ is definitely at an advantage. Take time to find the right role and remember that these companies need you and what you can offer as much, if not more, than you need the role.” (Pip Jamieson)

Thanks again to everyone who made this such a great event. The conversation could have gone on all evening so it’s definitely a subject that we will be returning to! For those that missed it a video of the live stream from the event can be found here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mOElBvhir-c.

Remember, if you have any thoughts on hiring for diversity and would like to share them with us please comment below or join us on Twitter or Instagram (@10digitalladies). As always, we encourage our community to offer ideas for our next 10 Digital Ladies book! If you still haven’t got your copy of our first book, Career Hacks, you can register for a copy here: http://bit.ly/10DLbook.

Emma SindenIs it time to disrupt the traditional interview process for the sake of greater diversity?
read more