If you’re avoiding creating videos because you don’t think you look the part, this one is for you! Video below – scroll for the written version. Highlights:
- The unexpected advice I received about “how to become a motivational speaker”
- My foray into wearing pajamas in public
- A nudge for you to step up and share your message
In 2007, I decided to pursue my dream to become a motivational speaker.
I announced my intention on stage while competing at a Toastmasters International Speech Contest.
Just like the Law of Attraction promises, the Universe conspired to help me. A speaking coach approached me: “If you’re sure you really want to go for this, I’ll mentor you!”
On the day of our first meeting, she dished out the following advice:
- You’ll need to do something with your hair
- You’ll need to start wearing makeup – and not just on stage, all the time – because you only ever want people to see you at your best
- You’ll need a new wardrobe: skirts or dresses, never pants. High heeled shoes.
Then she looked me up and down and declared: “and you should probably drop about 10 pounds.” (This was a good 50 pounds or so ago…I’m sure today she would simply shake her head sadly.)
“You see,” she explained, “If you want to be a successful motivational speaker, you need to be a role model. When people see you, they need to want to BE you.”
Her advice left me feeling…shocked. Embarrassed. Pissed.
Was I wrong to have expected something different?
I was expecting her to tell me that I needed a message and a good speech. Or a demo video. Or something I would never think of – like I would be expected to supply my own microphone.
But nope…apparently all I needed to do – or at least the most IMPORTANT thing I needed to do – was to “look better.”
Worst of all?
When I looked around at the successful women speakers – I saw that she was right.
If I wanted to succeed as a speaker, I would need to “fix” myself first. Being myself, as is, wasn’t good enough. I wasn’t good enough.
For a while, I rebelled against her advice and attempted to launch a career as a “pajama wearing motivational speaker.”
I spoke on stage in pajamas, I attended conferences and networking events in pajamas.
Through it all, I built up some pretty fierce “rejection muscles.” (Trust me…if you want to experience rejection, try showing up to a business event in PJs.)
I stepped away from that when I realized that parading around wearing pajamas in public wasn’t me either.
I’m not trying to be a spectacle. (Or a clown, as someone once called me.)
I’m just a woman who isn’t into the whole hair and makeup thing – and who has never understood the appeal of fashion and shoes and handbags.
To be clear, I’m not judging anyone who is! If it floats your boat, go for it! You do you.
Just please return the favour and don’t judge me for choosing a naked face and comfortable shoes. 🙂
Nothing has changed!
In the 11 short years since then, technology has gotten better and better.
Today, I can broadcast myself speaking live to anyone in the world. I don’t need to meet the “attractiveness criteria” of conference planners, I can just show up and do my thing.
Except. Nothing has really changed.
When I look around at advice for creating videos or doing live presentations, I see advice aimed at guys that sounds like:
- Turn on camera
- Say stuff
But for women? It’s all about camera angles, lighting, clothing, makeup, hair, having a beautiful backdrop.
And when I look at the videos being shared – it’s just like the speaking world. Perfect hair, perfect makeup, soft lighting, backdrops with candles and set in luxurious rooms.
When I was growing up back in the ’70s this sort of thing was referred to as a “double standard.” I hated it then and I still hate it now.
I don’t see people like me out there
One of my clients put this really well: when I look at people’s marketing, I don’t see myself represented.
I don’t see me either.
So that’s why I’m showing up here, today, as me.
It’s why I’m making videos when I’m sure that “mentor” would have told me to stick to radio!
I think we’re all here for a purpose and if yours is to share a message to the world, here’s my challenge to show up and share it.
When I used to wear pajamas to events, I would tell people that I dressed that way so that no one else would feel like they were inappropriately dressed. No matter how uncomfortable they felt, they could always look at me and reassure themselves that at least they wore grownup clothes.
So here I am, a chubby 52-year-old woman – on camera, without makeup and strategically hiding my bald spot by cutting it out of the picture. 🙂
Once again, I’m taking one for the team!
So if you have something to say (or something to sell) – get out there and do it.
Don’t let a bad hair day or an invisible blemish hold you back.