International Women’s Day is about celebrating the tremendous achievements of women around the world and calling for a more gender balanced world. In light of this, we asked the team at LSW to share with us a woman who they have been particularly inspired by recently. Without further ado, here's who we are shining a light on today, tomorrow and for many years to come.
"Brené is a woman whose books I read and reference often in my coaching, and whose talks I invariably encourage my clients to watch. Firstly I love her because she makes me laugh! She's a brilliant speaker, full of humour and honesty. But she's also very smart, and has researched subjects such as vulnerability, shame and empathy. Her work on vulnerability I've found inspiring to many, particularly men, who still feel that their role has to be the unemotional being who hides their 'difficult' emotions. In Daring Greatly, she encourages us to live wholehearted lives, embracing all of our emotional language, in order to overcome the shame which we find so difficult to talk about. This shame is generally manifested in a different way in women, making them feel they're not good enough whatever they do, and inspiring the beast of perfectionism. So many of my clients still think that it's an acceptable 'weakness', that in fact it shows how hard they work, how committed they are. But in reality it is a lie that keeps us wanting to please, to be the good little girl, and binds us always to striving for an unattainable goal.
Her book, The Gifts of Imperfection, is brilliant on this; how we can step into our true selves by changing our perception; walking out our lives in freedom, knowing that the beauty and learning comes from embracing our imperfections."
Kate - LSW Principal Coach
"Gugu is an actress and UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador. She admirably uses her celebrity platform to promote the amazing work they do, and is the ideal ambassador, I believe, as she exudes warmth, true human connection, joy and empathy, and thus reflects the values of the UN Refugee Agency as she talks about ways we can all help, by donation, campaigning or simply by acting with empathy and kindness.
She’s an inspirational communicator for me because she honours the importance of her content, whilst delivering it in such a way that her communication style is accessible and generous, never patronising, confident yet sensitive, and undeniably authentic, thoughtful and impactful."
Olivia - LSW Senior Coach
"My favourite speaker is Esther Perel, whom I absolutely love. She is dynamic and passionate. She knows how to enthral her audience with her content, her pause, her dynamism of thought, her laser beam eye contact, and that slight twinkle in her eye as she delivers her point. There is a kind of fire within about - what she wants to say - which comes from the belly.
She hits her consonants which makes her always understood - even though she has her native accent when she speaks. The accent is her yumminess. This is part of what makes her so fascinating to listen to - she uses strong emphasis and pausing and her passion comes through - intertwined with her roots and heritage. It is authentic as no one else can sound like her! She also uses sustained, almost laser beam, eye contact when she speaks, which makes us as the listener feel engaged. She is not afraid to pause - alongside this eye contact - and let us absorb the moment of thought that she wants to land with us.
Not to mention her outfits - she always looks so sharp in what she wears. Every little detail about her performance is thought out - the way she thinks, the way she speaks, the way she dresses - she wears something very detailed like an interesting piece of jewellery. This gives a wonderful experience of both listening and watching her.
She also lists things to emphasise her point - and speeds up slightly when she delivers the lists - but slows down to land her actual point about it. This varying of the pace keeps us enthralled too."
Make sure to pick a topic which you have a fire on your belly for - which you cant wait to share with someone. Which you have to get out. Then think about the tools such as pause, eye contact, pace, emphasis, in order to make it land with your listener. If your passion is there first, that will be captivating to your audience. You can magnetise with energy when you speak. This is what people remember most - how you make them feeeel as a listener.
Kate - LSW Senior Coach
"My head and my heart collide when transported by reporters to far-flung lands of conflict and war. My head lives for words and the power of the pen, whilst my heart longs for stories of simple humanity. Nowhere do I feel this more intensely than in the extraordinary work of Marie Colvin. Marie Colvin was a writer, documentarian, journalist, and one of the finest war correspondents in print. She wrote predominantly for the Sunday Times, but her reputation and energy transcended the mere confines of a weekly publication.
Colvin travelled and reported from all over the world, but her expertise and experiences of the Middle East were unrivalled in her field. Her trademark eye-patch - worn since a rocket attack in Sri Lanka took half her sight - and her quick wit - holding court late into the night with journalists and statesmen alike - belied her intrinsic empathy and ability to cut to the heart of humanity in a mere 800 words.
In war zones and besieged towns, Colvin would consistently be the last journalist standing, refusing to leave alone those trapped by fighting, always giving a voice to those that were forgotten - ‘bravery is not being afraid to be afraid’, she once wrote. At many points in her career, she could truthfully claim that her insistence on bearing witness, literally saved lives - as one of only three writers (all women) who remained in East Timor during a bloody battle, her reporting was said to have saved the 1,500 lives she refused to leave.
Colvin forged relationships with statesmen, terrorists and world leaders: Yasser Arafat, leaders of the Taliban, the Kennedys - all without judgement, all with the driving belief that through talking, and writing, she could change the world as we saw it.
Though at times unwell, too traumatised to work - she never failed to pass on her expertise to those coming up behind her, particularly women - and she extended her friendship and mentorship to many of those that work today: Lindsey Hilsum, Emma Graham-Harrison, Lyse Doucet.
Colvin was assassinated by the Assad regime in the battle for Homs in Syria in 2012, aged just 56 - having refused to leave long after all other journalists fled. She was a tour-de-force of brilliance, wit, intelligence and heart - and I encourage you to spend some time getting to know some of her work.
She was truly an inspiration."
Faye - LSW Executive Assistant
"Elizabeth Day first came into my life when suddenly all my friends were raving about her book 'How To Fail: Everything I've Ever Learned From Things Going Wrong'. After reading it, I moved onto her podcast is now one of my go-to listens on my morning runs. She interviews some of my absolute heroes - Jacqueline Wilson was a particular highlight. What strikes me most about her communication technique is how genuinely warm and kind she is, making you feel like she is just having a chat with one of her best friends. This was particularly evident in the recent episode with Andi Oliver, who completely opened up about the eating disorders and mental health she's battled with throughout her life. She often precedes her questions with 'this might be an inappropriate question so if it is then don't answer it and we can just move on', rather than grilling the guests about their lives. Elizabeth is so humble and often self-deprecating, in a way that makes her guests respect her and open up to her. They show their sensitivity and vulnerability as they discuss the parts of their life that didn't go to plan, often to an extreme level, but have shaped their whole lives. During Andi's episode, she said "it's hard to pick just three failures by the way!", to which Elizabeth Day responded, "it's so interesting how many women say that, and how few men say it" - a very relatable truth for many of us! You can listen to the podcast here."
Hannah - LSW Marketing Executive
"I was lucky enough to go to one of Byron Katie's workshops and it was extraordinary. Not just the language and questioning skills but her beautiful delivery. Her work is centred around meditation. You start by noticing who or what upsets, angers or saddens you, recalling a specific situation and capturing your stressful thoughts on a worksheet. You then isolate one thought and question it - is it true? Can you absolutely know it's true? How do you react when you believe that thought? Who would you be without the thought? Find opposites of the thought - are they truer than the original thought?"
You can listen to her podcast here.
Julia - LSW Principal Coach
"Hollie livestreams a lot of her spoken word poetry on social media and I am often compelled to watch right to the very end. Not only do I love her writing but I absolutely love her incredibly authentic, relaxed style of reading. What's really impressive is that Hollie has talked publicly about the nerves and pressure that she feels in front of a live audience and yet she still manages to perform at gigs in front of hundreds of people. What I imagine she's doing is something we coach at LSW - taking the qualities that you might have when you are most relaxed (posture, voice and gesture) and recreating them in the moment. It might not feel totally natural at first because of the adrenaline rushing through your body but the "fake it till you make it" theory really pays off here and eventually results in a much calmer (less terrified!) feeling inside."
Ali - LSW Principal Coach
"New Zealand's Prime Minister was very much in the limelight during the initial stages of the Covid-19 pandemic, as someone leading their country in the right way. She is a truly authentic and honest communicator who gained popularity by being very 'real', unlike so many politicians. As well as delivering persuasive arguments at formal press conferences, she is more than capable of sharing the 'behind the scenes' version of herself too, with a strong social media presence (here's one from the day New Zealand went into lockdown). She relates to her audience with easy to understand content - like the famous Easter bunny quote in the video above - and doesn't hold back from creating an emotional connection with her listeners. She comes across as empathetic and warm, yet powerful and passionate - a combination many of us strive to achieve."
Elise - LSW Positive Change Ambassador
"Poet and activist Amanda Gorman has risen to prominence following her spine-tingling recital at Joe Biden's inauguration speech in 2021. Her poem The "Hill We Climb" moved people across the world through her unique and utterly captivating delivery. She nearly turned down the opportunity to read at the inauguration, for fear of speaking in front of so many people. The world would be a poorer place if her fear had overcome her desire to speak that day and make her message heard. Her confidence, body language and melodic delivery still gives me shivers. I can't wait to hear more of her enthralling voice."
Freyja - LSW Marketing Manager
Normal, every day women
"I am inspired by the women in my life who have displayed incredible tenacity, supportiveness, kindness and wisdom in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic. I am fortunate to have some incredible women in my life, and in many ways, it is they who pulled me through my long Covid recovery and the pandemic. Whether it was sending letters or books, running Zoom lessons with my children or most of all, offering me a shoulder to cry on and space to talk, women have been there for me, throughout difficult times. I am inspired by the many women friends whom I have witnessed juggling the impossible; meeting the demands of work, whilst simultaneously home-schooling children. So, the truly inspirational figures for me this year are not famous, but are instead normal, everyday women, women who put one foot in front of the other each day no matter what they face, women who support each other, and women who spread light and joy, even in dark times."
Alice - LSW Senior Coach
So there you have it - a small selection of the amazing women who are leading the way in terms of communication. We hope you feel inspired by them to shatter glass ceilings, banish your self-doubt and find your unique communication style. Above all, have unapologetic passion in your voice.
If you'd like to know more about our upcoming Women In Business course, book a free 15-minute Discovery Call today.