“What are three things women have to stop saying right now?” was the question Deb Sofield asked of attendees at the June 14th East Tennessee Women’s Leadership Summit.
- “I’m sorry.”
- “Let me ask you a question.”
- “To tell you the truth.”
Sofield explained how these phrases and others rob women of their power. The author of the new book, Speak Without Fear: Rock Star Presentation Skills to Get People to Hear What You Say, she encouraged attendees, saying, “If you want to have a positive life, you need to stop having a negative mouth.”
Among the services Sofield provides is training for women who want to run for office, chiding that “If you don’t do it, Bubba will!” She herself is, and has been for over 20 years, an elected official in South Carolina.
Another master at using her voice, but in a very different way, was luncheon keynote speaker Dr. Nikki Giovanni. Her humor, easy storytelling style, and brilliant smile kept the room rapt. As Giovanni shared stories of her life and her work as a teacher, writer, and activist, she cleverly wove in lessons that were there for the taking, e.g., “you have to know who you are” and “a smile will split the darkness.”
Giovanni shared with us that she and Maya Angelou had put together a very special presentation for Toni Morrison as a way to help Morrison grieve the loss of her son. They had famous writers come together on a stage and read Morrison’s works to her. It was a performance open to the public free of charge. Today, Giovanni has a dream to do something similar for an East Tennessee woman whom she greatly admires: Dolly Parton.
Each of the women demonstrated the importance of using our voices in leadership to “leave a lasting legacy for all to hear.”