It was moments before I was to speak for 450 executives and I could tell the woman who planned the meeting was perhaps more nervous than I was. "The last time we had a woman speak for this event I got a lot of negative feedback about her," she said. "You're the first woman we've had back and people are pretty skeptical."

You might think a comment like that, right before giving a 90 minute  presentation, would throw me off. And it might have, except I already knew that's what I was up against.

Just as there are gender gaps in business, the gap exists at the podium as well. Whether at internal meetings or external conferences, there are far more men presenting than there are women. And because the front of the room is a position of power, women's absence is a problem.

With movements like #MeToo and events like the Women's March changing the conversation about women's rights, now is the time to have more women to get in front of the room. The good news? We're seeing some progress, especially in the tech industry.

The 50/50 Pledge is an organization working to, "showcase an equal share of men's and women's voices at the top technology industry conferences." Will Critchlow, Founder and CEO of Distilled, an online marketing agency that hosts events on both US coasts and in the UK. Their team, who is dedicated to getting powerful women on stage, noticed a trend with inbound requests to speak -- they skewed heavily male. "The biggest thing for us is to go looking for the absolute best speakers we can find -- especially if they aren't those who will naturally put themselves forward," Critchlow said. 

Initiatives like the 50/50 Pledge are one way to overcome the Catch-22 of women in presenter roles; to normalize female presenters for audiences and other women who may be watching. And while the tech industry is leading the pack, here are three ways you can make more women heard.

It Starts With the Women

Ladies, the change starts with you. As women, it is our job to put ourselves in front of the room. Statistics show that women are less likely to have confidence in their worth and ability. A study from Bain and Company found that women have only 13 percent confidence that they will reach top management. We need to change that conversation.

If you're a woman and you have an idea or worked really hard on a project, put yourself forward. Apply to speak at or present for events, whether it's within your company, or outside industry events.This is your time to shine. No one is going to do it for you. Do it for yourself.

Implement Your Own 50/50 Rule

We do things the way we always do them. The only way to break out of that mold is to be intentional and do things differently. If you're a business leader, put systems in place within your company to foster voices that may otherwise be overlooked and elevate them.

Each time it's time to designate someone to present on behalf of a team or your company, take a look back at the previous five presentations. Who spoke? If it's mostly men, insist a woman delivers the next one.

Prepare Your People for Speaking Excellence

I recently spoke for a prominent tech conference; one that is committed to gender equality on their stage. After the four day event concluded I received a note that I was the only woman in history of the event to receive the highest ranks.

Let me be clear... I didn't get the highest ranks because I "speak like a girl." I did well because I work very hard on my stagecraft and have decades of experience speaking in front of people.

Like with anything, to be really good requires practice. Don't put someone in front just because they're a woman. It should also be because they're prepared, skilled, and great at their job. Implement a training program or boot camp that provides opportunities for people to get better at public speaking--so when a woman does get a chance, she's good.