I believe we’re all on this planet to make a unique impact. Whether it’s to put together a presentation of a lifetime that inspires change, starting a DIY crafting blog that creates a community of doers, or giving an impressive job interview that sets a new standard in the workplace, having a clear understanding of your voice is how you make that impact.
I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase “find your voice”. Unfortunately, it’s become slightly cliché and overused lately in my world of marketing. People tend to glaze over the concept as if it’s just white noise. But the philosophy behind finding your voice holds a ton of value. Your voice is your style and it’s the key element to shaping a message that is uniquely yours. Embracing it will make you stand out in a crowded marketplace – whether that means shining brighter than all the other candidates for a job, skyrocketing your personal brand, or landing a big account.
Sounds pretty good, right? So how do you go about “finding your voice”?
Let’s start by breaking down this phrase and getting to the core of what it actually means.
REFRAMING THE PHRASE
The word “find” implies that you lost it or you never had it to begin with which is crazy. Unless you’re Ariel in The Little Mermaid (cue this terrifying scene that was responsible for many childhood nightmares), you never lost your voice, and therefore it doesn’t need to be found.
Replace the word “find” with something more appropriate like “uncover” or “hone”. See what I did there? I’ve completely reframed the phrase to key into the idea that you already have a voice. Your voice exists within you – it’s been there forever – so all you have to do is hone it.
Now let’s define what having a voice even means and let’s dig into this concept of “voice”.
Voice can take on a lot of different meanings, depending on the context. The “voice” we’re referring to here is the tone of your message. It’s the shimmery threads that shine through the fabric of your words, giving it that extra something special that only you can deliver. Notice how your voice is embedded in your writing, speaking, visual communication, and even text messages: essentially every piece of content you put out in the world.
When we evaluate this new reframe of “honing your voice” or “uncovering your voice”, it’s clear that your voice already exists within you. It’s been gradually developing during your years of human experience: all the blunders and pitfalls, all the triumphs and celebrations. Everything you experience shapes your worldview and therefore shapes your voice.
Like a fingerprint, your voice is incredibly unique and distinct. That’s why it’s such a buzzword in marketing: it’s the singular tool you have at your disposal to make you stand out from the crowd and set you apart from everyone else who does what you do.
Distilled down even further, your voice is your truth.
HOW TO HONE YOUR VOICE
When we talk about honing your voice, it’s about getting clear about the nuances of your own truth and polishing them so they sparkle brilliantly!
The question here becomes: how do you practice uncovering this truth and honing your voice?
There are rules to follow and teachers to guide you. But your voice is a bit more nebulous because it comes from a deep sense feeling rather than knowing.
Getting in touch with your sense of feeling is the path to digging deep and hearing your voice. Here are some great ways to do that!
1. FILL UP
The always inspiring Julia Cameron coined the concept of Artist Dates, or taking your inner artist out on dates. Think of your creativity like a well. When you’re constantly creating new content, preparing presentations, leading workshops, etc., you are slowly emptying that well. You can’t create when you have a dried-up well! The purpose of regularly scheduled artist dates is to keep your creative well filled up. Growing and expanding these enriching experiences will allow you to develop a stronger voice and bring clarity to your messages. For inspiration, check out this list of 150 Artist Date Ideas.
2. MAKE WHITE SPACE
We live in a modern world where we are constantly surrounded by noise from outside sources that are just clawing for our attention. From social media to television to our daily commutes; noise exists everywhere, and we rarely make time for white space in our days. Remember that white space is good space. Give yourself time each day, even for just 10 minutes, to quiet down and just listen to your inner dialogue. It will make a world of difference in honing your voice.
3. FIND “YES PEOPLE”
Supportive people see you for exactly who you are and love you for it. When I’m brainstorming new video content, there are certain people I call to help me get inspired and keep me in a positive brainstorming atmosphere. I call these friends “yes people” because they say yes and open up a beautiful flow of ideas. The right people can make all the difference in helping you uncover your true voice. Choose your “yes people” wisely!
4. WRITE MORE
The more you write, the better you’ll get. Writing is an essential vehicle for delivering a strong message. When all else fails, write it out. That’s all I’ll say on this topic. Because renowned storyteller Ira Glass puts it better than I ever can in this short video.
5. SPEAK MORE
Public speaking is most people’s biggest fear. What better way to practice your voice than to stand up in front of a group and actually use that voice of yours? You can start slowly. Volunteer to share a story or answer a question in a small group meeting. Then attend a networking meeting where people stand up to share their elevator pitch. The next step might be a Toastmasters meeting. Do some research to see what public speaking opportunities are available in your area and get your voice out there in the world!
It takes time to uncover these unique and defining subtleties in your voice. The key here is to make it part of your routine, like brushing your teeth. By making this a consistent practice, day by day, you’ll chip away at a lot of inauthentic layers. You’ll know you’ve struck gold when you are presenting yourself in a way that feels true to you.