Do women need to wear killer heels in the workplace?

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Wednesday, February 15, 2017 - 15:20


What does it really take to be heard? We asked Sheelagh McNamara, voice coach and lead tutor on the RADA in Business Executive Presence for Women course, if donning a pair of skyscraper heels should be part of the equation.

Red Glossy High Heel shoe isolated on white

Many women embrace high heels as a tool to boost their confidence in the workplace and gain height. There is a perception that a pair of heels can boost your authority – yet could it also cause adverse effects?

Sheelagh explains the effect that sky-high heels can have on women’s vocal and physical presence: 'Most women (although not all) will wear some sort of heel in a situation where they want to create impact, and that in itself is not a problem. The difficulty comes when you wear vertiginous heels, and even more so when those shoes have a platform. They don’t allow you to connect with the ground properly, as your weight is pushed forward onto the front of the foot.

Wearing high heels can cause your breath to become shallow, your pitch to become high, you speak rapidly and  sound breathy. All of this lowers your authority and impact. While we’re not talking about aping male voices, we do associate gravitas with a slower pace and deeper pitch.'

So if you’re still attached to your favourite pair of Jimmy Choos, can you overcome this? RADA in Business courses, such as the taster session Sheelagh is delivered at WOW – Women of the World festival 2017, cover core elements of physical presence, ensuring your posture is giving you the grounded, balanced stance to speak with confidence and authority. One female course participant, who struggled with feeling short, spoke of her amazement at feeling two inches taller after a RADA in Business masterclass – without changing her shoes!

On Friday 10 March 2017 at WOW – Women of the World festival, Sheelagh lead a practical masterclass that explored skills that help people step into the spotlight and take up space – so that when they speak, others listen. Sheelagh encouraged participants to try out different skills and techniques to help maximise their impact, not only in the workplace but also in their day-to-day life.

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