Louise Pascale and LJ Loch have long shared a vision for propelling more women into leadership, raising their voices and making them visible in the workplace.
The duo started Outspoken Women, with the aim of creating a safe space for women to develop their public speaking, influence and impact skills through individualised, small group forums and in-house training.
“Too many talented women lack the confidence and techniques to put themselves forward,” Pascale and Loch tell Women’s Agenda.
“Our workshops include workplace communication, how to handle meetings effectively and negotiation. When women have these skills, they don’t just step into leadership roles, they embody it.”
Below, Louise and LJ share how they utilised past experiences, both personal and professional, to launch Outspoken Women and help other women excel in their careers.
What inspired the beginnings of Outspoken Women and why did you decide to take the leap to launch the program?
Our paths crossed about 3 years ago as a result of our work with Women in Media. As soon as we met, we had a natural synergy and shared vision for creating a space for women to develop their public speaking and professional skills. The timing was right. Trump had just been elected and women were wanting to have more of a say in what was going on in their worlds both professionally and personally.
You have both had successful careers in different fields, including journalism, media consultancy and business. How have your past experiences shaped the workshops at Outspoken Women?
All of those roles required us to be Outspoken Women, while our work in providing media and presentation training over the years gave us an insight into the fact that way too many talented women lacked the confidence and techniques to put themselves forward. So, providing training in a women-only space was obvious.
Then there are our personal experiences, both good and bad. We also share these experiences in our workshops and how we used those lessons to take our professional careers to the next level by strengthening our influence and impact skills.
What do you hope to achieve for women who undergo training with Outspoken Women?
We believe in every woman who walks into our workshop. We know they have the skills and capacity to be better heard in the workplace, and shine on stage but all too often they need to learn how to best unleash their power. These are women who are ready to take the next step in their career and who are looking for how to do that in the smartest way. We are their cheer squad not just for the day but post training. We give them space and time to refine their skills, giving feedback and backing them all the way. We do this in a ‘women only’ space which nurtures an atmosphere of support and confidence.
Outspoken Women covers more than just presentation skills (although we love watching the presentation confidence flourish across the training); we cover messaging, difficult situations, assertiveness, personal style, and strategic personal promotion in a highly-individualised, small group forum. It’s transformative personal development at its best with amazing networking to boot! You leave empowered and ready to take on the world.
Why should women consider this kind of training?
We call this foundational training. Quite often workplaces are running programs that are encouraging women to take leadership roles or to step up to a new level. However, for some women they feel they can’t do this because they are still missing some fundamental skills like controlling their nerves when giving a presentation or structuring an effective pitch, they may still need tips on body language and networking. Often leadership training skips these.
Why is it important for women to step into leadership roles? How can your workshops help women with this kind of transition?
Workplaces need leaders who are both men and women. Each brings their own set of skills and perspectives to the role, but sadly there are still many sectors where women are struggling to find leadership roles.
Our workshops provide a safe space to explore and build career strengths while learning how to manage the many different elements, real and perceived that commonly hold women back in the workplace. The women who have benefited from our training consistently talk to us about the transformational impact of Outspoken Women for themselves and their teams – we love that and we love the wonderfully diverse women we have the privilege of working with.
Did you face any challenges or barriers early in your careers that have shaped your passion in this space, and particularly helping women to feel empowered in the workplace?
(Louise) I still find challenges and barriers every day. Being a single mother and business owner means you are not only doing a lot of juggling on your own, but you are forever looking for clients who understand that. By putting myself out there and being passionate about what I do, I hope other women in a similar circumstance can believe they can do it too.
(LJ) Imposter syndrome! My challenge to myself and for most women is making sure that our work is recognised and paid for! So many of us do things for free without even thinking to ask for compensation and it’s time that changed. I’m trying very hard to say “No” far more often!
What pieces of advice would you give to women of any of age who are looking to transform their career?
Just by deciding to transform your career you have already taken the first step to doing it. Keep believing in yourself and surround yourself with people who believe in you too. Anything is possible.
Our other piece of cornerstone advice is – just ask because if you don’t, they can’t say yes.