08/14/18 | Founders, Gender, Motivation

How to Pitch to a Room Full of Men (or Psych Yourself Up to Beforehand)

8 leaders share how they get their game face on when they are the only women in the room (because sometimes the numbers shake out that way).

Leading or launching a company when you’re the only woman, either at the top or at all, can be challenging. In fact, only 6% of Fortune 500 CEOs are women. But this doesn’t stop our Tennessee trailblazers from succeeding again and again.

Hear their inspiring stories on being the lone woman at the table, and what they do to make their voices heard in a room full of men–whether they’re pitching investors, being customers, or entertaining a TV crew with an ad hoc dance party!

Q. How do you prep for pitching or taking an important meeting when you’re the solo woman?

Kayla Graff

“In healthcare and medical device, quite often I am the only woman pitching! I have so much adrenaline before I pitch and if I went on stage with that much energy, I would talk fast and pace. So right before I go on, I do small exercises (I keep them light because I’m in a suit!) to release some energy. Once I’m relaxed, I feel confident in the delivery of my message, and I’m excited to bring listeners along the SweetBio journey. One thing I know is that, as a woman, I can deliver a story. So if I manage my nerves, I can focus on my delivery and that will grab attention.”  Kayla Graff, SweetBio

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Van Tucker

“Real truth: I never think about whether I am the only woman at the table. I do my research or homework prior to the meeting, know the subject matter and feel confident about my ability to listen, distill information and parlay any knowledge appropriately. When I have the opportunity to do so, I bring other women to the conversation.” — Van Tucker, Nashville Fashion Alliance 

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Courtney Jones

“In recent years I’ve found that I take pride in being the only woman at the table. I recognize I have a unique opportunity to represent myself, MomSource and female entrepreneurs. (I also like to listen to the Eminem and Sia song, “Guts Over Fear to get myself pumped!)”  Courtney Jones, MomSource Network

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Sinead Miller

“Being the only woman at the table for a pitch gives me a lot of motivation in and of itself. It is a great opportunity to help represent female entrepreneurs and hopefully inspire others.”  Sinead Miller, PATH EX

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Kristina Montague

“I do not second-guess myself as the only woman in the room, in fact it gives me more power! I am a disruptor by nature and love to challenge bias and encourage people to broaden their thinking. But you must be prepared! Know what points you need to convey and have backup to prove your thesis. Changing minds does not always happen on the first pass, but the more you show up and prove them wrong, the more opportunity there is for inclusive dialogue.” — Kristina Montague, The JumpFund[su_spacer size=”30″]

Ashlee Ammons and Kerry Schrader

“We listen to music! As they say, it is an outburst of the soul. When we were waiting with the crew before our negotiations on A+E’s “Rooster & Butch,” we had a dance party with the crew in a field in the sweltering heat in West Texas. We’ve learned you have to approach these conversations lighthearted but with a razor focus on the value proposition of the product you are bringing to the table. Instead of going into these meeting with the mindset of pleading for funding, we tell a story and articulate the mistake the investor is making if he chooses to pass on Mixtroz.”  Ashlee Ammons & Kerry Schrader, Mixtroz

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Jessica Harthcock

“I listen to music! Current favorite songs are “Whatever it Takes” (Imagine Dragons), “Champion” (Carrie Underwood) and “Hold On” (Judah and the Lion).” — Jessica Harthcock, Utilize Health

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This article originally appeared on Launch Tennessee’s website and is republished here with permission. 

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Launch Tennessee

Launch Tennessee

Launch Tennessee is a venture development organization that supports entrepreneurs from ideation to exit. We’re guided by a vision of making Tennessee the most startup-friendly state in the nation, so that entrepreneurs stay here to build companies and create jobs.

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