Posted on February 04 2020
During the financial crisis in 2008, Bobbie Carlton found herself out of work and looking for the next thing. She got creative and was able to market herself and launch two successful businesses. She’s now a parallel entrepreneur - three companies strong. We recently spoke with Bobbie about her career journey. She shared ways to put yourself out there, promoting yourself or your business via public speaking.
ALLY: Tell us about your professional journey.
Bobbie Carlton: After I lost my job in 2008 I started thinking about how could I help the community at large and at the same time get some visibility. I started with Carlton PR & Marketing followed by the launch of Innovation Nights. At the time I was experimenting with social media. Social media was on the rise and Innovation Nights allowed me a sandbox to play in -- I could experiment without doing it on clients. It was also a place to gain professional visibility and that’s where my public speaking started.
ALLY: What is Innovation Nights?
Bobbie Carlton: Innovation Nights is a monthly showcase where entrepreneurs can launch new products. We launch 10-15 products per month and after 11 years in the business we’ve launched over 1,500 new products! I was the designated MC 12 times a year so I got a lot of public speaking practice. I also got invited to a lot of other events and it was there that I noticed it was mostly men onstage. We needed to get more women involved and so Innovation Women was born.
ALLY: Innovation Women is all about public speaking and empowering women. How did you become comfortable public speaking?
Bobbie Carlton:I wasn’t always comfortable with public speaking, it takes a lot of practice. Besides lots and lots of practice, I always say, go to school! In other words, watch other speakers. This could be at live events or TED talks, whatever it is, just watch, listen and observe. It’s important to see how the speakers interact with the audience, what works and what doesn’t work. The more speakers we watch the better off we will be at public speaking.
ALLY: Any advice for those looking to step into public speaking?
Bobbie Carlton: The most important advice just do it, get yourself out there - don’t turn it down. We all have something to say. My advice is if you need help figuring out your topic, confide in someone that knows you best. Ask them, what is it that I do well? What could I say that no one else knows? Or what’s a good takeaway for the audience that I could share? If you feel nervous, tell yourself you are not nervous, you are excited. It’s important as women that we put ourselves out there. My idea was to create a way for women to get connected to public speaking. And, it doesn’t have to be a solo speaking engagement iit could be a round table discussion or speaking on a panel or co-hosting with someone.
ALLY: What is confidence to you?
Bobbie Carlton: Confidence looks different on different people. The standard definition of how it looks is driven by our own expectations. Because 70% of conference speakers are men, we may think that the way men look and act on stage is “right”. Our expectations are driven by what we’ve seen in the past.
It’s important to become comfortable and confident in your own skin. Practice. Know what you want to say on stage, or in life. Speaking engagements can help you showcase your style and your confidence, and connect you with new career and business opportunities.
ALLY: Any final thoughts?
Bobbie Carlton: Well since I’m talking to a company that is pushing innovations in the shoe space, I must tell you about my boots experience. I had a go-to outfit for speaking. (I speak to a lot of entrepreneurs.) It was always a pair of jeans, a white shirt, a blazer and a pair of brown leather cowboy boots. And I loved wearing those boots - they made me feel tall and powerful. Unfortunately, as we “mature” the padding on the bottom of our feet dwindles. Sore feet and the boots had to say their final goodbye. Thanks to ALLY I can get shoes fitted for comfort, with built-in padding! Super important, because we’re all lose that natural cushioning on the bottom of our feet one day.