To be a lowercase speaker, writer, or thinker means to:
- Surround yourself with diversity.
- Stand on a platform of research not rhetoric.
- Sell your thinking, not yourself.
- Open yourself up to be challenged.
- Put your ideas where they might be uncomfortable.
- Open-source your outputs.
1. Surround yourself with diversity
If you’re not a minority yourself – make sure there’s a good representation of faces, places, experiences and all other sorts of variety – on the panel with you, on the conference programme, or being asked for an opinion by whoever is asking you for one. If you are one, make sure you’re not the lone token!
2. Stand on a platform of research not rhetoric
Don’t spare the great storytelling and entertainment – but make sure anything you claim to be so, is so based on evidence – which you provide in some form for others to interrogate and come to their own conclusions on.
3. Sell your thinking, not yourself
Suffice it to say, but the platform you are given is not an opportunity for you just to sell yourself or your business – that should be a consequence of the thinking, not the starting point. Unless you’re paying to be there – in which case the whole event should set off warning bells for anyone attending.
4. Open yourself up to be challenged
There’s inherently a power dynamic between the speaker and the audience, the author and the reader – attempt to break that down and let them interrogate your thinking or voice their own (contrary even, madness!) opinions. It might just help you strengthen your own thinking. Q&As and blog comment sections are a start – but we can all be more proactive in inviting feedback.
5. Put your ideas where they might be uncomfortable
Don’t just present, write or tweet into a filter bubble of like-minded thinkers looking for applause or to validate your preexisting beliefs. Actively look to be proven wrong and challenged by putting yourself out there in different places and forums.
6. Open-source your outputs
Presenting to exclusive crowds of senior stakeholders or being quoted in expensive whitepapers is great for the ego, but not democratic and isn’t going to change the world anytime soon. Make your presentations, writing and the like available for others to download, share, remix and reuse.
Standing on stage calling for change is one thing – actually being part of it coming about is another. You can start by sharing (see above) your source, and your outputs more widely but also by connecting your audiences and putting in place plans to follow-through on your thinking – tracking change and evolving from the theory to the practice.