You have free will, a big brain and feelings about the things going on around you. What’s the use of stressing, thinking, crying, raging, loving or caring if you are not going to launch all of your ideas about it into the stratosphere? What is the point of living if the magical chemical computer that is you is unwilling to produce some sort of opinion or commentary about the things that go through the you machine the whole hour, day, week, month or year? What are you if you're not able to project? Now, the choice to do it or not is up to you. Below are some suggestions for when you make the decision to use your voice.
Your voice is just volume; it's not just the quantity of sound that gets it heard. In order for your ideas, thoughts or opinions to resonate with anyone, there must be quality to what you're saying. Before you open your mouth, open your mind. I’m all for the sassy broad who just begins to chit chat out loud, but if she wants to make an impression on how I consider things, then she had best be considerate of more sides that just her own. Think outside the box if you want to stand on one. What you say will have more depth, which will give you and your ideas, thoughts and opinions some momentum.
If you are passionate about something, know why others may feel just as strongly to the contrary. First, being able to see the other side will make your own case more robust. Second, understanding the opposition will give you credibility when it’s your time at the podium. So often there is the girl in college classrooms, in corporate boardrooms and even in social groups at the bar that just starts talking, so pinpointed on getting to home plate she misses the pitch. Know your stance. And know what the opposition will present. You will be much more compelling and convincing.
Lean in. Step up. Bust out. Waiting for someone to give you attention, to clear the space for you to speak and to value your contribution more than you do means you aren’t serious, you aren’t sure and you aren’t engaging in the conversation. It may take a while to get your feet wet, but that’s not what I call swimming. Get some floaties if you’re still hesitant, but until you jump in, and get the top of your head wet, you aren’t swimming. Swim. Splash. Engage.
If you’re scared, identify exactly what you fear. Is it other people passing judgment? Is it not being confident in what you have to say? Is it insecurity due to those around you? Call it out and do the work to throw it out. Don’t focus on how many rocks are in the way. Focus on the way.
Who doesn’t like to argue based on her feelings about something? Who doesn’t like to say, “I feel this way… and therefore it is fact.” It's not always a voice others want to hear. Give us the who, what, when, where and why. Flank us from all sides with facts that fuel your feelings. Be able to identify one from the other. Leading with feelings is like expecting a cloud to be thick enough to stop a speeding plane. Feelings preceded by facts? That’s like those ramps for skiers that launch them in the air with enough time and space to make us hold our breath and believe in unicorns.
Listen. Or, like my grandmother said, “Now, now, now… listen.” It takes some time to take in what other people are saying, to process available information and to allow what you hear to truthfully influence what you say. Listening intently and genuinely is a part of our own voice, with so many people competing to be heard. Hear loudly. This is where volume counts.
The practical solution to "get a microphone" can be applied figuratively; it just means to project, to amplify. When you have something to say, create some magnifier of your voice. It’s not strictly about volume. We hear whispers when they are powered by passion and we feel thunderous pain when we witness someone’s silent truth. Know your audience. Know your message.
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