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About Vickie Sullivan

Vickie Sullivan is internationally recognized as the top market strategist for thought leaders, professional speakers and B2B professional service firms. Specializing in brand and message strategies in crowded markets, she has helped thousands of talented people outsmart their competition since 1987.

Written by: Vickie Sullivan  |  April 03, 2014

Are Female Speakers an Endangered Species?

Another thing I noticed about TED last week is the abundance of female speakers. I use that term loosely as there were more than twice as many male as female speakers. Unfortunately, that is considered a good ratio as many conferences range only one or two female speakers on the main stage.

What is behind the dearth of female speakers? If buyers say relevance is the top speaker selection criteria (see previous post on the M&C survey), then the playing field is level…right?

I see this question a lot in the online discussion boards; sadly, I have more opinions than facts. My take: female speakers get through the initial round but don’t make the final cut. In this final phase of the sales process, buyers believe all speakers considered would do a great job. They all fit. So now the question is: who is the best fit.

And that is where most bias resides. Not in the beginning of the selection process but at the end. When all things are pretty much equal, we tend to go with the safest option. And many times, that’s the option we are the most familiar with.

What can female speakers do to buck the trend? Be the safe bet. When you are branded as the best thought leader in a category, gender steps aside. When your thoughts are followed by their audience, you will create the buzz your buyers want. Gender can be trumped; it just takes more work.

 

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About Vickie Sullivan

Vickie Sullivan is internationally recognized as the top market strategist for thought leaders, professional speakers and B2B professional service firms. Specializing in brand and message strategies in crowded markets, she has helped thousands of talented people outsmart their competition since 1987.