As a speaker and trainer and radio show host one of my most important tools I have is my voice.  When laryngitis set in and was followed by its cousin bronchitis I began to wonder how and if I would ever have my voice back again. It started me thinking about how we start our lives having our voices and for some reason we lose it. Why does that happen and how can we find our voice whether it’s speaking or writing or on social media.  Having a voice is what you say to the world and in this fast moving easily connected platform, you have to make sure what you say is important and worth hearing.

So the question is why does anyone want to hear what you have to say? Your words are what makes others take notice.  They should be authentic and valuable and make others think. They should share your passion and your purpose and should make you think as well.  Your word is your bond and your voice shares that with the world.  Pretty powerful isn’t it?

But it’s more than just the spoken word. It’s watching a person and seeing and feeling their excitement. It’s what they share with others. It’s what makes them stand out in a crowd of millions of others. It’s realizing what is important to you and really owning it. It’s about being authentic and intentional…something we talk about pretty often. It gives you the time and the reason to do what you love, for the reason you love with the people you love.

Let’s steer this conversation towards business for a bit. What can you do as a business owner or leader to find this voice that is so crucial to have? You see your business voice is you brand and how you communicate it is what brings you more “listeners” in the form of clients.  Ready to get started but don’t know what that looks like? Here are just a few ideas:

  1. Do you know what your voice is? How do others hear you and how do your core values fit in? Your voice is your brand and it lets others know what you stand for and what you offer to others so be clear.
  2. Do you know what or who inspires you? Think about those that draw you in and determine what it is and why it is. Do you have those same qualities and are you using them in the same way? If they inspire you, you want to do the same for others.
  3. Do you have the experience to share? Every step in your journey has given you lessons learned…both positive and negative. That’s what makes you who you are and that’s what you can share with others. Use your voice in a way that let’s others know you’ve been there and done that and are here to share the results.

Once you are able to answer these questions, it’s time to think about what makes you unique in the business world.  Remember those millions of others in your space? Let’s help you stand out. You have to combine your story, the reason why you do what you do and what kind of experience you want your clients to feel and walk away with. Let’s begin with the first step:

  • Put Yourself in Their Shoes-More than anything, your clients want to know that you understand them and their challenges. Asking them questions that give you their struggles in their words is like winning the lottery. Using this information you can provide them with the solutions that they need and want in their own words. Can you see how powerful this can be?
  • Be present-Whether you are speaking, writing, blogging or any other way to get your voice heard, make sure you are present. When you ask a question, check and see if there are responses and then it’s your turn to continue the conversation. If you are meeting someone in person, don’t have your phone on or look around to see what else is going on. Being present shows you are interested and that continues a great experience.
  • Don’t worry about what everyone else is doing. Don’t compare yourself to others. Your purpose is to provide the experience…your experience, not someone else’s. As the saying goes “It doesn’t matter what others are doing. It matters what you are doing.” If you provide someone else’s experience, why wouldn’t your clients just work with them? It’s not about being perfect, it’s about being authentic and that is your voice.
  • Finally, you are more than enough. This word seems to be the common thread in many of our conversations. Enough is enough with being enough. Letting your clients into your world of being you is what they really want.  Getting a peek behind the curtain is giving them a first-row seat to hear your voice. Not everyone is for everyone and that’s ok. People work with those they know, like and trust and they chose you. Your voice is the one they want to hear to help them change their life and share you with their friends.  Don’t let that negative chatter disguise the voice you were meant to share.

It’s not about finding your voice.  It’s about giving yourself permission to use it.

Now let’s move this discussion to our future generation…our daughters and grand-daughters. No matter what we see on social media, television, in magazines or in real life, young women are losing their voice. We remember ourselves and our daughters when they were little ones who were not afraid to share their feelings and many were called Miss Independence, my daughter owned that title. But something happens and they are less likely to continue with that title…at least in how and when they speak.

Studies show that women will not apply for a position in the work world unless they are 100% qualified.  They don’t want to waste someone’s time or be rejected.  Is that what’s happening to our young women? Do they only use their voices when they are 100% sure that they will sound intelligent or have the right information to share? This is another place where we have to build their self-esteem…not by telling them they will be amazing at everything.  Rather, help them see what their strengths are and how to maximize those qualities. We have been told to be nice and sweet and not rock the boat so to speak and many also hear don’t speak, don’t share your opinion, don’t, don’t, don’t. And the cycle begins or it continues. Being a champion or mentor for our next generation of female leaders is something we all need to be part of.

Let’s held build their confidence, self-esteem and bring back their voices by:

  • Helping them to follow their passion
  • Reminding them that the world they live in isn’t perfect and neither are people, including us
  • Stop making innocent remarks about the way you look or what you don’t like about yourself as they do hear that
  • Providing a safe environment to share concerns, challenges and celebrate their triumphs
  • Keeping the lines of communication open and available

Remember, the way we talk to our children becomes their inner voice.