Are Women Judged More Harshly by the Way They Speak?

Are Women Judged More Harshly by the Way They Speak?

Are women leaders and business professionals judged by the way they speak? If you’re answer is no, think again.

Female presenters are held to a different, often more stringent, set of criteria than their male counterparts. Remember the last time you heard a soft-spoken female presenter? Did you question her credibility and tune out? What about the one who was monotone? Did you wonder about her grasp of the subject? And “talk about” the fast-talkers? When female presenters speak faster than their audience can process, they risk a high audience drop rate. It’s just too much work to follow along.

Here are some common yet easily correctable pitfalls we’ve worked through with clients at The Speaking Intensive℠ based on Lisa’s observations, expertise, and perspective.


If you fall into the fast-talker category, here’s a quick and effective tip to slow down your vocal pace. Stand with your arms reaching toward the sky. Lock your elbows. Reach your fingers straight up and send your energy out through your fingertips. Maintaining that position, give your presentation. Odds are you will slow down. When you slow down, it will probably feel like you are speaking much too slowly. It’s almost certain you aren’t. For fast-talkers, slowing the vocal pace down even little bit will go a long way.

Tonal Quality

Remember your first date with someone you really liked? Recall how you answered those first few questions. Was it in a higher pitched voice than your norm? Did it feel like it came straight out of your head?

Think back to your relationship months later. With the first date “interview questions” in the rear view mirror, what did your voice sound like? Chances are it was coming from a place lower in your body.

When you’re speaking, work to bring your first date head voice lower down to your navel. We’ve developed an interesting method for training this tonal transition. In a practice surrounding, begin delivering your talk. Work to transition your tone by pacing around the room, marching in place, or any other physical move of your choosing. Once the tone has transitioned, cease the physical movement and continue on. With practice, you’ll find that you can automatically transition tonal quality simply by being aware and dropping down to your lower register.

Body Position

Have you ever seen a presenter extend a hip to one side or another as if balancing a heavy bag? One of our workshop participants who had this issue labeled this position “mommy hip” because she spent time carrying toddlers. Whatever you call it, in front of an audience this position doesn’t convey confidence.

Remember: Speaking is a full body sport. In The Speaking Intensive℠ we focus on moving and gesturing from a confident, fully aligned, ready position. To achieve this ready position, try working from the feet up to your head as follows:

  • Stand with your feet slightly narrower than hip distance apart.
  • Shift your weight from the front of your feet or your heel to between the ball of your feet and arch.
  • Soften your knees.
  • Pull your navel slightly back toward your spine.
  • Roll your shoulders slightly back and down.
  • Elongate your neck as if someone is pulling up on a string that is attached to the crown of your head.
  • Drop your arms so they hang loosely at your sides, as our bodies were designed.
  • Relax your jaw and tongue.
  • Blink a few times.
  • Take some even breaths.

You are ready!

The Economist focused its June 16, 2016 on female speakers in their “War of Words” article “Women Are Judged by the Way They Speak”. While the article uses politics as the playing field, the aptly landed points pertain to almost all arenas of speaking. Read the article here.

If you’re judged by the way you speak, the benefit of keeping your audience tuned in is important. If you’re a woman, the stakes can be higher. Remove as many destractions as possible so your message is the focus of the audience.

Let us help you with this and more on October 26 & 27 at The Speaking Intensive℠. Click here to get your seat before the early registration discount ends on August 15! You’ll receive 2 full days of coaching with us for half the cost of our private coaching retainer.

Already graduated from The Speaking Intensive℠ and want to participate again? Email us for your special repeater rate.

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Alan_Parisse_3Hall of Fame speaker Alan Parisse has been coaching presenters and delivering keynotes for over 25 years. Named “One of the Top 21 Speakers for the 21st Century” by Successful Meetings Magazine, he is a keynote speaker for a wide variety of industries and organizations. Alan is a passionate presentation coach to executives, financial advisors, sports stars and sales presenters.

Lisa Casdendavidpicknerphotography-6 has been coaching presenters for 10 years. A former professional figure skater, coach and choreographer, Lisa leverages her unique background and point of view to help speakers organize their physicality in ways that best support their message.