Be Heard & Valued

The Top 3 Speaking Points to Open Up Ears & Increase Respect in You

By Diane Allen

Many times women feel unheard and undervalued. We get frustrated, call it gender bias, and bitterness can ensue. It’s a complex problem with many different moving parts to address.

I chose this topic: being heard and valued, because at the recent OWHE Conference during the breakout sessions and during the wise women panel, people had brought up their frustrations about not feeling heard and valued.

I’m a women’s leadership speaker and blogger. Being passionate about “moving the needle” for increasing the number of women in leadership is my idea of a good time!

One thing that I’ve discovered is that when I show women some of the key tools that professional speakers use, that it makes a big difference with being heard and valued.

We start with Aristotle who must have lived during a time when authors stunk at character development. Aristotle took it upon himself to figure out what makes a character credible. His findings were adopted not only by authors but by speakers who wanted to establish their credibility in front of new audiences. This centuries old model of establishing credible characters is still the gold standard of today.

Does this sound familiar?

Ethos – Logos - Pathos

Let me translate this for you:

Credibility – Case Building - Connection

Most people only use one or two of the elements. It’s not until you include all three elements that people will hear you and value you.


A newspaper reporter turned content writer for Fortune 500 companies had been following her journalism training to a T. One of the main journalism beliefs is that you are invisible. It’s not about you. You are simply there to facilitate in reporting.

She came to me because she was asked to speak to a group and she was petrified. She was going to be the guest expert! She couldn’t hide behind someone else’s story.

Her discomfort in speaking about herself and her accomplishments was literally making her throat close. But audiences think “who are you to tell me”?

We took a look at who would be in the audience and what was the speaking topic. Based on this information, we picked out the parts of her background that directly correlated to the audience and the topic. The carefully chosen parts of her background were read by the person who introduced her and she included her background into the fabric of the talk.

Her results caught her off guard! Her speaking engagement blossomed into being a well sought after speaker. Sharing her background worked so well that she applied it to her content writing career. The number of clients skyrocketed to the point where she went from a solopreneur to CEO of her own content writing firm. In both arenas, including her background was just what people needed to hear in order to value her and develop trust in hiring her. She’s convinced that sharing her credibility was a tipping point.

When it comes to your credibility, nobody really remembers or focuses on your background. You have to tell them “why you”.

To establish credibility, drop into the fabric of conversations the part(s) of your background that most directly correlate to the task at hand. If it’s a new audience, consider the most relevant thing that they need to hear about your background.

Case Building

A Senior Vice President at Charles Schwab contacted me because she was being accused of derailing meetings! She held herself to very high standards. Her rule: only speak with something very valuable to say. She would quietly listen and wait for her thoughts to formulate. About two thirds of the way through the meeting, her genius would kick in. With her big picture viewpoint she would connect dots in new creative ways and come up with ideas that would greatly contribute and move the topic forward.

But when she spoke, people would act like she derailed the meeting! This became an emotional tailspin for her. She knew the high value of her contribution but clearly she wasn’t being heard in the male dominated meetings. She fell into the default thought pattern: because I’m a woman I’m not heard and valued.

The real reason was because she was delivering the destination of her thoughts and leaving out the journey. Nobody knew how she arrived at her conclusions!

She needed to build a case. What was an obvious conclusion to her, needed to be translated into a logical sequence of steps for the others. Once she understood it was easy for her to implement case building. Her reputation for derailing meetings disappeared and her ideas were heard and valued. Her personal satisfaction dramatically increased and she received outside validation: genuine praise from her boss.

To build a case, include a problem/solution statement and outline the steps to take. Include supportive background information.


In one of my training events for women to cultivate their leadership presence, a CEO of a family owned company was having trouble establishing herself as THE leader. Her Dad who started the company was still in the picture and her brother played a big role. The employees were being respectful of their allegiance to her Dad and were wishy washy with how they treated her - the CEO.

At an annual companywide meeting, this woman intentionally gave a broad overview of 2016 in a storytelling format. She talked about the high points, the low points, and how each person in the company did their part in overcoming obstacles. She acknowledged each of them recognizing the challenges they faced and the attributes they brought to solving the issues. She concluded with her vision for 2017.

A week later, this CEO told me that she watched her reputation change before her very eyes. People felt heard in ways they had never been heard before. People thanked her and sought her out for one on one engagement. Because of this deepened connection, she established her leadership presence.

To connect, voice out loud and acknowledge how people feel. Use a storytelling format. It’s the quickest way to make a point and connect at the same time.

Case Building + Connection + Credibility = How to be Heard & Valued

A Vice President of Product & Development in a global company came to me because she had been telling people the solution to a problem at work and nobody was listening. The classic feeling of being unheard and not valued. This went on for 6 months and the stress of the unsolved problem was mounting! (The marketing department was pushing a portion of their work onto the product development department).

I asked her to duplicate for me how she had been presenting her idea at work and I discovered that she was not connecting, not sharing her credibility and with her case, like the woman who derailed meetings, was only giving the solution. Don’t you think that should be enough? Just give people the solution?

Here’s what she did to include all 3 of the speaking points (marked in italics). At her next meeting she said “I know we are all frustrated that this problem has been an issue for over 6 months. Based on my 18 years in product and development and 12 years here at this company, there is one thing I know for sure. I am no expert in marketing! I suggest…. This is where she outlined the problem, the solution, and the action steps necessary. (I love how she pointed out her product and development expertise by pointing out how she’s no expert in marketing!)

People in the room acted as if she had NEVER presented her solution before. In other words, THEY were hearing her for the first time. They lit up, loved the idea, and implemented it immediately.

At her next performance review, her boss stated that her leadership presence had significantly improved. He specifically mentioned her ability to communicate well during meetings.

The day after, she told me that she spent the rest of the meeting trying to keep her composure. It was crazy to watch that her solution had remained exactly the same. It was combining case building, connection and her credibility that opened up people’s ears to hearing her and valuing her idea!

Case building alone leaves people wondering why act and who are you?

Connection alone comes across as “buttering up” or “brown nosing”.

Credibility alone is bragging.

Aristotle recognized that not only is the sum total is greater than the individual parts, but that by including all 3 speaking points, a completely different context is created: a credible character.

This model of speaking is going to change how others perceive you, and for the better! But stepping into a higher version of yourself is going to take a little discipline to get this party started.

Get 3 index cards. Write Case Building on one card, Connection on another card & Credibility on the last card. If you’re a phone person, put them by the phone. If you’re an email person, put them by the email. Running to the next meeting? Pause and contemplate beforehand.

Each day, focus on utilizing one card only. So day 1 may be Case Building. Day 2 Connection, Day 3 Credibility. After 4 weeks of diligently challenging yourself to always include one of the elements in every conversation, you will discover that each day it becomes easier and you naturally start incorporating all three.

The woman who derailed meetings enrolled people to adopt her ideas with case building. The CEO watched her reputation change before her eyes by connecting through story and acknowledgement of employees. The content writer had a dramatic increase in her business because when she shared her expertise, people valued her. The product and development expert had her idea implemented and raised her reputation in the eyes of her boss by using all three speaking points.

What will your outcomes be? I can’t wait to hear!


Diane Allen is a Women's Leadership Speaker. You can reach her and read her blog at





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