Last week, I had a conversation with someone who’s organizing a virtual event. She wanted me to speak on the topic of using telesummits to build your list and I gladly agreed due to the quality of speakers and the refreshed format (I’m on that tip these days).
As I was choosing which open slot would suit my schedule, I couldn’t help but notice that out of the 10 speakers, only two are women (including yours truly). I made that observation out loud and the virtual event organizer let out an exasperated sigh.
“I know — and it’s even worse with the non-virtual events we organize,” she said.
She then unleashed a number of reasons why women could not be found as speakers at non-virtual events. Everything from child care to fear of failing in front of a large audience were some of the reasons cited by the woman.
“It seems like when women reach a certain level of success, they stop supporting each other,” she said. “If one woman is invited to speak and can’t make it, nine times out of ten, she won’t suggest another woman who could.”
A similar situation happened to me…
I recalled how I had to cancel a speaking gig at the last minute. I was set to fly from Toronto to Knoxville. I was the keynote and we had spent six months planning for my big day.
Two days before I was to speak, I had to cancel. I don’t want to share the reason why, but it was big. Believe me, I wouldn’t have given up a five-figure speaking gig because I broke my nail or had stage fright. So, I had to scramble to find a replacement within a few hours.
I tried to find a woman to replace me. I called the five women on my list who I knew could hit it out of the park as I would and could speak on the topic I was going to speak on.
Each said no for a variety of reasons:
- Two couldn’t find the childcare that quickly.
- Another said that the pay was to low (in all fairness, she typically charges mid- to high-five figures).
- The last one was already scheduled to speak at another event at the same time.
With time running out and no more women to call, I started calling my guy colleagues who could speak on the topic. Finally, after being on the phone and Twitter for three hours straight, a colleague in Texas said he’d go. He was in the air two hours after his confirmation.
So, I knew what this woman was talking about with non-virtual events, but I had a hard time believing that she couldn’t find any women to fill her virtual one.
So, I started digging around to prove that women have no problem speaking at virtual events. I visited the websites of 30 telesummits and looked at the speaking roster of each one. I noted how many women and how many men spoke at each virtual event.
I also followed this criteria in selecting which telesummits I would evaluate:
- It could not be a women’s only virtual event (eg. mompreneurs, women’s career, etc.);
- It had to be a multi-speaker virtual event (one or more speakers per day over two or more consecutive days);
- And it had to have a similar theme and focus on the same target market as the one this lady invited me to speak at.
The results? The 30 telesummits had 448 speakers in total – 264 were women, 184 were men. The pie below shows visually how these numbers break out.
As you can see, 59% of all speakers at telesummits and virtual events are women. There are many reasons why virtual events are attractive to female speakers and professionals.
- No hunting for child care. Just give the kids some dinner, pawn them off on the hubby or other guardian in the home or do your session while the little ones are at school.
- Fears are hidden. If you sweat alot in front of people or if you have other nervous ticks, they’re hidden while presenting in a virtual environment.
- No posturing. At many non-virtual events I attend, many speakers aren’t speaking their truth. They’re struggling with their online marketing just like you and me. It used to be easy. Send out an email, make hundreds of thousands. But instead of speaking the truth, they hide behind the mask of perception. And, it’s dressed up with plastic smiles, the zirconium ”diamond” rings, the leathery orange tan, the “blind-you-slowly” teeth whitener. All this posing to look like something you’re not. To give the perception that you’ve got more. The materialism. The inauthenticity. Makes me shudder. I mean, I don’t have millions (not yet). I don’t live in a mansion (not yet). I see my dentist twice a year to get my teeth cleaned (not whitened). I hate wearing makeup. I don’t like wearing heels or fancy blouses when I speak (I’ll tell you why if you attend “Telesummit Refresh”). Can I just deliver a message and be me? I’m sure many women feel that way as well. So, virtual events help us avoid the fakery.
I’m sure there are other reasons why women excel in the virtual event compared to the non-virtual environment. Care to weigh in with your thoughts?