Practice. Ok, not so helpful. You know that to be good at pretty much anything you need to practice. Let me elaborate.
Think back to when someone tried to convince you to join her latest diet endeavor, workout routine, corporate policy change, etc. However, it seemed like she wasn’t even convinced herself that it would work. Or maybe it seemed that she was begging you to join her. There might be times when she sounded pretentious because of this new belief.
Do any of these voices encourage you to consider her point of view, even if she truly believed in what she was saying? They discourage me. If she just expressed herself authentically you might have seriously considered her viewpoint.
When I am passionate about a topic, I find it most difficult to authentically express myself. I can come off as too aggressive, stern, and inauthentic (this is something incredibly important to me… see my point of view, agree with me, you must!!!) Other times when I am nervous, unsure, and expect others to disagree my voice begins to warble and fluctuate to match my nervous racing heart.
I found my authentic voice by practicing with close friends, in particular Anna Feuille. In her class, I thought of something I was passionate about and expressed my thoughts to others in the class. At first my voice warbled and Anna suggested I try sitting a little bit more forward. What a difference! By sitting forward instead of slouching and relaxing back in my seat my voice became more confident and strong. Another girl in the class had the opposite problem as me; her voice was too assertive. Anna gave her the opposite advice, to sit back and relax a little more. Once she became a little more relaxed her voice became softer, but still strong, and much more persuasive.
Learn how you need to alter your body to express yourself authentically. Practice in front of close friends who can give you honest feedback. Remember (and this is a hard one for me!) don’t take anything too personally; this is all to help you express your thoughts using your strengths and your body.
Once I am comfortable with a person (I reasonably know how they will react to the things I say) it is much easier for me to express myself. But, I still have trouble when I first meet people. I joined Toastmasters to practice meeting and introducing myself to new people, speaking extemporaneously, and authentically expressing my ideas to new people. It is an amazing, supportive, and fun group to practice with!
When in doubt, I found that pausing, closing my eyes for a minute, and taking a deep breath always helps.
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