“A voice is a human gift; it should be cherished and used, to utter fully human speech as possible. Powerlessness and silence go together.” - Margaret Atwood
Great communicators speak, and their audience hears them. In our everyday lives, communication is a central component. Finding your voice and being heard are crucial pillars in our day to day communication. Mastering these skills unlocks many benefits in our professional and personal lives. Exploring different techniques to become a more effective communicator will give you a competitive advantage over your peers.
In this post, we will explore some great techniques to find your voice and also be heard. Also, I'll share some great advice I gathered from my research on this topic – “Her Advice”. At the end of this post, you can find some amazing resources that would help you on your journey.
Do you face these challenges?
Would you like to do the following?
How to find your voice and be heard
If you identified with the questions above, here are some techniques to help you:
Take stock and know you have a voice
Start with a self-assessment - how are you using your voice? What were some instances when you were not heard? How did it make you feel?
Being more aware of the times you felt like you were not heard or when you didn’t use your voice is essential. The objective is to identify areas where you could make some changes and improve in your communication.
"Make yourself the focus and pay attention to whether or not you are choosing to honor yourself in your interactions. Using your voice is really about how much you are able to honor yourself. -Lesley Wirth"
Have a "relevant" and concise message
Women who have something valuable to contribute and know how to deliver their message inspire me. Too many people talk for “talking sake,” please don't be one of them. Being aware of the value you want to deliver helps refine your message. Also, equipping yourself with some knowledge and difference in perspective before you speak makes your message powerful.
#1: “One of the best ways to get your voice heard is to save it for the things you’re most passionate about. Your enthusiasm will shine through and will draw others to you. Coupling your passion with your unique voice is a recipe for success!” (Source: 6 Female Leaders on How to Have Your Voice Heard)
#2: “When in doubt, write it out, jot down your thoughts and get them organized. Read them aloud. Share them with a friend or family member. Get feedback to make sure your message is clear.” (Source: 6 Female Leaders on How to Have Your Voice Heard)
#3: "It’s important for women to know that having a voice really means having a track record of success and accomplishments so that people want to listen to what you have to say because you’re saying something of value. So use your voice, but use it strategically" (Source: Executive Women, Finding (and Owning) Their Voice)
Prepare yourself to speak
Especially in a professional setting, you increase your influence by going into meetings prepared with comments and questions. If you only start creating your message in the room, your thoughts might not be as succinct as you want it to be and your delivery will be less impactful. Make time to prepare yourself and then deliver.
"It’s really, really important that you know before you go to a meeting what’s going to happen. And what’s the purpose of the meeting. Depending on the focus of the meeting, we have got to prepare." (Source: Women at Work: Make Yourself Heard [Podcast] )
Use your voice
You may have the brightest ideas or be the smartest in the room. If you don't speak up, the outside world will never know what you have inside of you. Learn to stand up for what you believe. I know it's easier said than done. Share your thoughts and ideas with the world. To deliver your message effectively and be heard put yourself in the listener’s position.
#1: "Don’t sit quietly and think about things and maybe whisper to somebody or tell people afterward. Put yourself out there, and get involved in the conversation." (Source: Executive Women, Finding (and Owning) Their Voice)
#2: "If you spend your life keeping your thoughts to yourself, holding back when you have something to say, then you miss an opportunity in life to influence outcomes — to change an opinion, to clear up a misunderstanding, to give support, to challenge an assumption, to keep someone from making a mistake. Your voice begins to fade. You can even miss the opportunity for your words to change you." (Source: Finding Your Voice)
Observe & Learn from your experiences
Becoming a great communicator requires a lot of practice and learning. Being more aware of how you communicate and willingness to learn will not only develop the skill of communication , but it will also empower you.
"Stop apologizing for asking questions, pushing the envelope and disrupt the way things are done with your awesome ideas, your creativity, and knowledge." (Source: 6 Female Leaders on How to Have Your Voice Heard)
Get external support
Gather feedback from trusted people around you and filter through to identify areas for improvement. External input and support are an excellent resource in this case, as you get insight into how you are perceived and heard. Also, consider getting mentorship or training in your areas of improvement. Be open to listen and learn from your trusted circle.
“If you’re struggling with speaking up, find a safe, supportive group of peers and practice with them. Be open about your struggles. Set a goal: ‘I want to get more confident about being heard in meetings/by my manager/etc.’ Practice conversations, share advice, and support each other.” (Source: 6 Female Leaders on How to Have Your Voice Heard)
Embrace your voice
As you are learning to be a great communicator, you need to start embracing your voice. You have a unique and powerful voice. Don't let anyone else define your voice or silence you.
#1: "Once you've identified your voice, it's time to start embracing it. Every time you write--and I mean every time: email, memos, anything you plan to publish--make sure to stay true to that voice." (Source: The Power of Your Voice: 3 Steps to Finding and Embracing It)
#2: "Embracing your own unique voice not only diminishes fear and insecurity, but it can also lead to greater opportunities." (Source: The Power of Your Voice: 3 Steps to Finding and Embracing It)