This piece is written for new coaches, wellness practitioners, and aspiring speakers who want to make an impact helping others but haven’t completely defined their voice as it relates to their professional brand. In this short article, I’ll share insights to help the reader begin to define this voice plus offer a few key actionable items so that you can start taking immediate steps at the conclusion.
As you begin this new and exhilarating journey, you’ve no doubt felt the intense rush of emotions and excitement that often accompany doing something you’ve never done before. There’s a good chance those gushing positive emotions have also been matched by opposing reactions such as fear, uncertainty, confusion, or any other mix of unwanted feelings. If that’s the case, then let me be the first (or hundred and first) person to remind you that those emotions are completely natural. It’s a right of passage when doing something out of the ordinary, especially when it means putting yourself out there in the public spotlight.
You no doubt have a few trusted mentors and thought leaders that you look to as a source of inspiration and those you perhaps have been modeling in this beginning stage because you know their method is proven to work. We’ve all heard the proverb that “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery,” and can readily acknowledge the truth in the statement as we’ve all had that one person that we admired so much that we consciously (or unconsciously) imitated at least a few of their behaviors to some degree. That being said, we can also acknowledge the importance of defining our own style so as not to seem like a carbon copy of the original.
I remember a few years ago, right after the release of the Tony Robbins movie, I am Not Your Guru, all of sudden there seemed to be a big spike in coaches actively using the F-word in their videos and content. That’s not to say that there wasn’t profanity used in the coaching space prior to this publicly released movie, but I wasn’t the only person to notice this phenomenon. For a time, it seemed to be a running joke because it was easy to spot the people who seemed to do exactly what Robbins clearly said not to do. On the topic of using profanity in a professional setting, I’m not advocating one way or the other. If that’s you, then do what you feel is best to project your authentic voice. But if it’s not you, then don’t do it. Gary Vaynerchuk is another entrepreneur and public figure with a proclivity for profanity. To his credit, he’s also done a good job of advising his viewers to be mindful in their content creation and to avoid indecent language if it’s not who they truly are, as he is completely transparent about the fact that he catches a lot of criticism from people due to his choice of wording.
The reason I added the section above is to simply emphasize the importance of finding your true voice and personal style and to avoid copying other people because it looks cool or you think that’s the only way people will like you. The truth is that the digital population is just over four billion people. This includes three billion social media users according to Statista. There are more than enough people out there to grow your audience. The main thing right now is the find your authentic voice so that you can start attracting the people who want to get to know the real you. These are the people who will want to work with you and pay what you’re worth because they’ll feel comfortable that you completely understand them and their pain points.
When I transitioned from being a therapist to launching my coaching and professional speaking business, I also started blogging as a way to develop my brand and get my name out. I’ll admit, in those beginning months I was very impressionable and naïve, which is another way of stating that I received and followed some pretty bad advice which led to poor decision making, but that’s for another time. A few individuals tried to offer advice on my appearance and professional image (FYI – I have a lot of tattoos), which actually caused a rift in my presentation style which left me feeling incongruent and at times disingenuous because I wasn’t projecting my true self. Even though these people had only suggested that I change my physical appearance by covering my tattoos; over time I started to notice that I was also changing my demeanor and professional voice to fit the views, opinions, and judgements of these onlookers. It took time but eventually I was able to shake that need to please others and no longer stifle the voice that is uniquely mine.
Once I started speaking from my true and authentic core, I began to notice more freedom with content creation and greater ease during public speaking and trainings because I no longer felt like I had to put on an act. I spoke from my core self and was able to focus attention on connecting with the audience and educating them on the desired topic.
Just as I was able to do this, so can you. Here are five questions to answer and reflect upon. With at least one of these questions, you will be required to ask a few trusted friends or colleagues. This is because sometimes we have blind spots in certain areas or simply don’t give ourselves enough credit where credit is due. Answering these questions honestly will provide the information you need to find and start developing your authentic voice, as you position yourself to serve others in a bigger way so that you can make a greater impact in the world.
Answer these questions. Then reflect on what you’ve uncovered and learned.
- What are five characteristics that define you as a person?
- What are five defining characteristics of someone you admire? (Take notice of the characteristics you both have in common.)
- What are five defining personality traits that others admire about you?
- What does the best version of you sound like when you speak?
- What is one golden nugget or pearl of wisdom that you can share today that will absolutely make a difference for someone else?
I will now challenge you to act on number five and share that information with someone who will benefit. It doesn’t have to be anything official like a blog post or shooting a video, although it can be if you choose. Take action by whatever means you see fit in the moment. The important thing is that you take action in the spirit of the challenge, which is to share a piece of yourself with someone who will benefit and grow from what you have to offer.