Are you afraid to speak up? Does your voice sound weak, breathy, hesitant, or insecure? Do people respect your ideas? Here are three key steps you can start with today to change your direction from fear and non-action, to confidence and vocal empowerment. These three elements include how you can prepare your mind, voice, and body language for what you expect will happen and what your response should be.
Step 1 is to adjust your attitude: The ability to have vocal empowerment is like balancing on a teeter-totter, or see-saw; when one moment you are high in the sky, and another you are down on the ground. However, you cannot go anywhere unless you have another person sitting on the other side to counter your weight, pushing and pulling up and down. So, mentally be prepared to register the fact that your ideas whether positive or negative will always have someone agreeing or disagreeing with you. That is the process of discussion, debate, and speaking up.
The trick is not to take it personally, but take it as practice sessions in human debate and diversity. If you start with this mindset then you will see discussions not as fearful or combative events, but more as the sharing of viewpoints which could be serious or humorous.
For instance, if you are being approached in a belligerent manner; then your attitude needs to take the serious tactic that this person must understand that he or she cannot speak to you like that. Your response is to tell the person that when he has calmed down or speaks with respect to you, then you can respond. And that’s it. By doing this, you have accomplished empowerment for yourself by being silent. Alternately, you could laugh it off right in front of this person, in order for your opponent to appear ridiculous or going over the top. Take on an attitude of being in charge of the situation, and not as the weakest link or a victim.
Step 2 is to tune your voice: In order to have the backbone to accomplish the first step, the sound of your voice should be loud enough to be heard clearly and emphatically in an authoritative tone. If you are nervous, your pitch level will rise and you will sound weak and insecure. If you are too breathy or quiet, you will not be heard. Go for your best tone which is most likely lower than you expect. Rehearse speaking aloud and using your breath to project and control your sound out in a loud firm manner. In meetings when you have an idea, state it clearly and emphatically, without using vocabulary than makes you sound weak or overbearing. Leaders are able to lead with a confident and positive tone that will compel others to want to follow them.
Some women feel scared to speak up if their position is an assistant. For example, a friend was always being interrupted in her work by her boss who expected that she drop whatever she was working on from another partner; instead, to do his task immediately. Initially, she felt intimidated by him and did whatever he said.
However, after taking some vocal sessions on how to use her tone and breathing more effectively; she was able to finally let him know that she needed respect from him when approaching her to complete his work. She used her voice authoritatively to let him know that when she completed two other prior tasks ahead of his, then she would have the time to do his project. She also pointed out to him that another staff member was available at that particular moment to assist him if it was an urgent matter. He soon got the message that she was no longer his slave; but a valued company employee and part of a team.
Step 3 is to align your body posture: In staff meetings or group discussions sit up straight and listen attentively. When you wish to speak do not hunch over or wiggle about, which will undermine what you have to say. If you are leading the presentation, act professionally, have a back-up plan if your power point goes awry on you; in other words, show confidence in your speech and your body language.
Men are more likely to speak up at meetings than women do; so if you are a woman and do not want to be overlooked for advancement, it is important to speak up at meetings. You can easily start with a simple question for clarification and eventually add in your opinion of the situation. If you are aware of the topic of the meeting, do some research and find out what would best suit your company’s goals and budgets. When you come to a meeting prepared with data or examples to support your argument, others respect you. If you are the expert in your field then act like an expert.
On a business level and a personal level it’s your voice that people connect with immediately. Get to your point clearly and confidently in business meetings so others will pay attention to what you have to say. Whether you are a supervisor or an emerging professional, vocal empowerment means you have respect from your team. Follow these key steps outlined so your attitude, voice, and body language will exude confidence and vocal empowerment. If you know you need help in this area, find a coach to work with you on building your self-esteem and vocal skills.