Updated: Dec 3, 2020
This is not a blog on public speaking. Public speaking is a middle-aged white guy standing in front of a podium sharing details you don’t need to know on a topic you’re not all that interested in. He thinks he’s funny. His mustache is funny.
This is a blog on finding your voice and raising it the hell up.
The fear of public speaking is the most common phobia ahead of death, spiders or heights and affects about 73% of the population, according to the National Social Anxiety Center. It’s no wonder then, that my quick Google search of “women and fear of public speaking” returns articles with headlines like, “Why women are less likely to speak up in public than men,” “What holds women back from becoming strong public speakers,” and “More women are more afraid of public speaking than they are of dying.” Of literally dying. This fear is holding women back from reaching their full potential. It is holding them back from finding their true, authentic voices and using those voices to create lasting change in their homes, at work, in their communities,
and in the world.
In the voice world, clients are referred to as Professional Voice Users: PVU’s. A PVU is anyone whose voice is essential to her livelihood: actors, singers, and broadcast personalities often come to mind first but the list also includes teachers, clergy, lawyers, salesforce, receptionists..you get the idea. As far as I’m concerned, all women are PVU’s and their voices should be honored as such.
Do you know a mother whose voice isn’t essential?
Let’s expand that. Do you know a woman whose voice isn’t essential to her career, her family, the world? Imagine a world without the voices of Maya Angelou, Malala Yousafzai, Gloria Steinem, your mother, your best girlfriend, your midwife, your hair stylist. I don’t know about you, but I’d be an uninspired puddle of loneliness with postpartum PTSD and a really unfortunate asymmetrical bob.
The cannon of books and blogs on public speaking anxiety is huge. Clearly, if the research is telling us that Jane would rather spend her Tuesday morning shark cage diving off the Eastern Cape of South Africa, sans cage, than asking her boss of 6 years for the raise she totally deserves, there is a problem to be fixed. Many of these authors have great advice. I know, in the more than a decade I’ve been working with voices, I’ve read a lot of them. But, I believe, they are missing two essential pieces of the puzzle: how the brain learns and how to create changes that last. Oh, and content that women actually want to read - it is possible to be both educational & entertaining - or at least I'm going to die on that hill trying.
If you're here because it’s been awhile since someone reminded you that you have a voice, and that voice can move mountains, please, allow me. If you're here already feeling fierce like Michelle O. with a story to tell, please, allow me to help you speak your truth in a voice that is strong, stable, and sustainable. If you find yourself in meetings, with clients, at book club, and keep swallowing the impulse to say that you deserve a raise, you have a creative solution, and Drinking & Tweeting should absolutely be on the list for June, Karen. Welcome. You belong here.