In my professional life, men have always been my biggest inspiration. Men were the ones telling me to take on jobs that seemed too much of a challenge for me, they were the ones telling me to ask for money while most women I knew were selling themselves short. Last week I was invited to speak at a panel and I was reminded again why men ruled the world for such a long time (but hey, not for long anymore).
The panel consisted of three men and yours truly. During the briefing the moderator revealed to us that he was going to do a moderator-less moderation, meaning he’ll just let us discuss and lead the conversation and not interrupt. I asked if he’s gonna ask us some opening question or we should just start talking and if so, how are we gonna start the discussion? He said he’ll just let us start and we’ll figure it out anyways. My second concern was if we were going to keep the conversation flowing, but none of the other panelists seemed concerned.
So there we were up on stage with two mics sitting on a table in front of us. Immediately after the introduction, two of the panelists hastily grabbed the mics. „Well isn’t it funny“, I thought. I was more amused by the situation than bothered that I wasn’t the one grabbing the mic first. The two guys must have had something really relevant to say, you think? Well… hate to break it to you, but no. Each of them just stated their opinion on the topic of matter. No plans on starting a conversation or discussing anything further. Just getting their points across. At this point I started questioning their statements, digging a little deeper and making counter-arguments. Not once was I challenged or asked questions by the two eager men. Despite them grabbing the mic first, I did get enough airtime and tried to answer questions from the audience. And just as a sidenote, the third guy on stage was more interactive than the other ones.
What did I learn from this? It was yet another reminder that men (in general, but I know I shouldn’t generalize) unapologetically try to get their opinions across, even ruthlessly doing so. And they don’t even seem to consider that their input might be boring as hell. Is this something I aspire after? No, absolutely not. It just reassured me to do things my way, even if I wasn’t the one grabbing the mic first. There’s a charming and authentic way to steal the show, yet still interact with others. Leaving a lasting impression is more important to me than making the first statement. Just trying to be first but not providing any value to the conversation is just ridiculous. The audience is smarter than that, sorry guys. Amen.