Many women – myself included – have the tendency to shy away from the spotlight. Rather than put themselves forward, they would prefer to quietly work in the background and let others be the ones to step forward.
Why? Because it can be scary, overwhelming and downright uncomfortable, to put yourself forward and tell the world, “I’m an expert.”
This is the exact feeling I had a few years ago when I was asked to present to 100 people on how to use PR and social media. For days before had I was unable to sleep and experienced moments of sheer panic and terror. I ended up in tears and wanting to cancel the whole thing. And this wasn’t the first time that I wanted to run away or said no because I was reluctant (or plain terrified) to stand in the spotlight.
But then I had a moment. On the night of the presentation as the room started filling with people, all looking to me to teach them about PR and social media, I had a choice, do I run or do I stay? I walked up the stairs, microphone in hand, willing my hands not to shake. I looked out into the crowd, took a breath and began to speak.
In that moment I realised I deserved to be in the spotlight and I wanted to these people to hear what I had to say as it could really help them and their businesses.
So instead of asking myself, “Who was I to stand in the spotlight?” I asked, “Who am I not to stand in the spotlight? Who am I not to share expert information? Who am I not to have a voice?”
This was the start of my journey from unknown to well-recognised and highly regarded expert and thought leader. I now get asked to present at international conferences, I have received millions of dollars’ worth of media coverage and have an award winning blog, all which helps to fuel my business.
Here’s my advice for anyone who wants to step up and have their time in the spotlight.
- Stand in your power
Don’t let those self-limiting beliefs stand your way. You know the ones: Do I know enough? Do I know more than the next person? Am I really an expert? Believe in yourself, your knowledge and your hard-won experience. See yourself truly as an expert and be prepared to tell people that’s what you are.
- Explore your motivation
Ask yourself why you want to be considered an expert or thought leader. If your motivation is purely to get sales then your audience will quickly see this and won’t respond positively to you. The biggest thing you need to realise is that promoting yourself isn’t actually about you, it’s about the people you want to influence. To really be seen as an expert you have to share something of value whether this is your IP, time or expertise.
For me, my motivation is to share my knowledge and teach as many people as I can about how to do amazing PR and social media. This goal is what drives my blogs, the articles I write, pitching myself to the media and my presentations at conferences.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for the sale
Women are natural relationship builders, it’s our strength. But sometimes this strength can hold us back when it comes to asking for the sale. Many women will see it as being too pushy or abusing the friendship and hold back.
Again, this reluctance is often feed by self-doubt. But someone who believes in themselves, sees themselves as an expert and understands their own value shouldn’t be afraid to ask for what they want, be it the sale, a promotion or even to ask people to read your latest blog post.
- Ask for help
You don’t know what you don’t know, but don’t let this hold you back. Don’t be afraid to reach out and ask for help from others who do know. For instance, don’t let inexperience be your excuse for not putting yourself forward for speaking opportunities. Instead enlist the help of a presentations coach to develop your skills.
Many of us do this every day in our professional roles. We would never dream of designing a website if this wasn’t our core skill, we’d outsource it. Give yourself permission to do the same and seek help from others.
Standing in the spotlight doesn’t have to be a scary experience; it can actually be motivating, enlivening and lots of fun. It can also have a powerful impact on your business, your career and also your personal life.
The truth is, you have knowledge in your particular field that others don’t, and you can capitalise on this by offering your expert knowledge and opinion to others. The more that you accept you are an expert, the more everyone else will accept it to.