By John Chambliss
The Ledger, Lakeland, Fla.
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Meet Karen Catlin, simply put, she helps women in the tech industry believe in themselves. Catlin tours the country, talking to women in technology about how she conquered her fear of public speaking and how they should step out of their comfort zones.
Here’s a little advice about speaking in public from a former top tech-industry executive:
–Record yourself giving a talk, then play it back with no sound.
“You’ll find out how you look and if you’re making any weird gestures,” said Karen Catlin, an advocate for women in the technology industry and former vice president at Adobe Systems.
–Listen to your talk without watching.
That enables you to catch any verbal missteps, Catlin said.
Catlin was the keynote speaker Tuesday before more than 200 people at Florida Polytechnic University’s second annual Women in STEM Summit.
She spoke about stepping out of her own comfort zone to challenge herself and achieve certain goals in life.
When she first moved to Silicon Valley, Catlin said she was timid in the new environment.
“I thought others were smarter than me,” Catlin said.
She stayed in her comfort zone, rather than pushing out for something new that would help her career.
“I’m disappointed in myself that I didn’t step out of my comfort zone,” Catlin said.
She tried something different at her next job at Macromedia, which was bought by Adobe Systems for $3.4 billion in stock while she was there.
At Adobe, which is a leading seller of software for managing documents, Catlin said she began branching out as she moved up the chain to become a vice president.
“I needed to surround myself with people who believe in me more than myself,” Catlin said, mentioning her husband was one of her biggest supporters.
Now, Catlin helps women in the tech industry believe in themselves.
She tours the country, talking to women in technology about how she conquered her fear of public speaking and how they should step out of their comfort zones.
The number of women with computer and science degrees has decreased dramatically since Catlin received her degree in 1985 when 37 percent of women earned the degree.
In 2014, 18 percent of women received computer and science degrees.
She’s working to increase those numbers and help women overcome their fears of public speaking.
One advantage for introverts is that people will approach them after they give speeches.
Catlin took questions after she spoke.
One woman asked what advice she had for non-native English speakers.
Catlin said it could be difficult for those speakers who sometimes have trouble thinking through what they might say while giving a speech.
Her advice for everyone is to practice speaking before the speech.
“The best public speakers practice a lot and are comfortable with phrases they use,” Catlin said.