Happy International Women’s Day! With women making up nearly 77% of the meeting, convention, and event planning industry in the U.S.,* today is a great day for self-reflection. How did I get where I am? Where am I going? What will my future be? One of the subjects I hear the most about from women I speak about this journey we’re on is confidence:

  • Why are men so much more confident than me?
  • Where do I find the courage to speak up?
  • How do I get confidence in myself?

Confidence! How many of us wish we had more confidence in ourselves? The answer is that confidence is a skill like any other – you have to invest in yourself and learn it. And we also all need to recognize that this is something everyone has to learn, no matter your gender or your background. While it may seem that for some it comes totally naturally, the reality is that they learned it somewhere along the way and you can, too! The most important thing to grasp is that confidence breeds confidence.

What does it take to breed the strength to gird yourself with the armor of confidence?

It’s really just a few simple things:

  1. Be who you dream of being! Challenge your own assumptions of what you can do. Don’t get pulled into others view of what you can do – invest in your own position and where you can go. If I’d let myself be pulled into a narrow view of what women can do, I wouldn’t have done the things I’ve done in my life (which, along with being a business leader, includes taking care of house and home!). Whose assumptions are you carrying along with yourself?
  2. Be yourself! Don’t feel like you need to like sports (or ballet for that matter) if you don’t. If you don’t like golfing, go to the spa – you’ll find that a number of men like the spa better, too! Don’t feel like you need to dress a certain way to fit in – though never underestimate the value of that power outfit that feels like you take on the world!
  3. Speak up! Know what you’re talking about, of course, and never be afraid of letting your voice be heard. This piece is especially rampant in our industry, with women making up less than one-third of conference speakers (2018 Bizzabo Gender and Inclusion Report). You have valuable contributions to make – because only you have your world experiences – and no one else has seen the world through your eyes. Every time you speak up, you build your confidence to speak more – so start today.
  4. You are good enough! Job applicants have been studied – and women follow the rule of “I need to have all the skills in the job posting to apply” where men are more likely to apply if they’re “close enough” (Harvard Business Review, Tara Mohr, August 2014). Guess what – you’re close enough, too! If you don’t get the job, you’ve at least had the experience of speaking up for what you want to do, and honing your interview skills. Well done! More confidence for the next time!

So, there you go – four easy steps to confidence! I read one article that women who have confidence don’t have doubts (“hah!”), don’t have regrets (also “hah!”), and also never miss self-care (omigosh “hah!”). You will likely have doubts, regrets, and not schedule that doctors’ appointment for yourself. That doesn’t mean you can’t be a confident woman, whom people pay attention to when you walk in the room. You are good enough, you speak up, you are yourself, and you don’t buy into the myth that you can’t be the person you dream of being!

Happy International Women’s Day! Throw your shoulders back, hold your head up high – you are a great, confident person who will make the future so much better and brighter by being you.

*According to the U.S. Department of Labor