TALKBACK: Irene Navitadad

Talkback is an occasional series of review of live talks we’ve attended.

I’ve been listening to speeches the last few months with an eye to “the story.”  You know, the example you give that transports you to a place with real sound, smell, taste and an example you can most assuredly repeat. That relatable moment that says I want you to care.  And I want you to root for my message.

Yesterday, I went to lunch to hear Jane Goodall.   She expectedly talked about reforestation, roots, shoots, chimps, apes, conservation – and waitressing to make enough money to take the boat to Africa to live her dream. Every word was rich with visuals, emotions and passion.  She was sweetly elegant and so personable too.

But obviously, that’s not when I was craving a story.

Last night I went with an open mind to an event for women in economic leadership to hear what Irene Navitadad‘s story was going to be.  She’s the President of the Global Summit of Women.   I like the organization and was invited by a friend, but I really was hoping for a knock out talk.

During her 25 minute keynote at the “WELD KEYNOTE EVENT“ focused on the status of women and where they land on corporate boards, in elected positions and what place women have at the table — the reality is, she told one repeatable story.

And it was about a man.

By all accounts, she was a very energized speaker.  Great presence.  Good delivery.  Nice connection with the audience and seemingly a very approachable, real human.  That is important toward the ‘believability’ factor of any talk.

But at a dinner event with 500 attendees, of the five slides she showed, four were (small) charts and graphs. Data from all over the world. Data I wasn’t sure what to do with in my life here in Columbus.

She did have one photo she started with – of a bunch of women opening the stock exchange in Madrid.

By all accounts, it was a story to give her credibility to talk about everything else.  But it really wasn’t a story. It was a proof point that she was doing her job well in getting women in great photo ops in places of influence.

I wish I had counted how many facts she shared.  They were eloquent facts, indeed.  But oh dear, after my 2 glasses of wine, I couldn’t remember one from the next.

So during the Q & A she shared the story of how former CEO of HP Lew Platt‘s wife died and he wanted to be involved in the raising of his children. He had to make unexpected sacrifices to his schedule and consequently, started to change the culture at HP to support other parents who were also raising children.  I presume, since she chose to tell the story, that it became a model for many other corporations to follow.

Her point in a roundabout way was that unless women are in positions of influence, policies impacting women and families won’t be affected.  She attempted to connect issues of better governance, tighter run meetings (and on time) and maybe another point – but I can’t remember one because I wasn’t transported to the ‘so what’ moment that is best answered with a great story.

So it may be ironic that when the woman that comes to talk to a group of 500 women about women’s place in the world ends up talking about a man.

Now that’s a story I will remember.