For a leader to speak with an authentic voice adds to their credibility and ability to influence.
So how do you learn to speak more authentically?
I’ve been leading clients through a method that has worked with each of them for years. It works, and a lot more effectively than someone telling you principles to follow. Nothing works like experience. Most people’s fear of saying something they’ll regret inhibits them from speaking authentically. Holding back makes you sound inauthentic, but not holding back risks saying something you think you shouldn’t, like that you hate someone.
Yet we admire people who speak without holding back. How do they do it without losing their jobs?
I designed this exercise to have you practice on the smallest scale with the smallest risk. You can even do it alone so no one else can hear you, meaning no risk. With practice you improve and will find yourself wanting to practice with others, giving more risk but more reward. Eventually, if you practice enough, with no big risky jumps you’ll find yourself speaking in your authentic voice, asserting yourself where you didn’t before.
The exercise sounds hard, even scary, but becomes easy and fun when you get the hang of it. I posted it about three years ago in “Communications skills exercises, part 10: voicing your self-talk,” including instructions for how to do it, and followed with videos of famous, successful people practicing the skills, like Robin Williams, Jonathan Williams, and Patton Oswalt. It works if you’ve first done “The most effective self-awareness exercise I know” first, since it builds on it so much.
Last week I assigned the exercise to my leadership class at NYU (why I’m posting about it now) and found the exercise gave students access to more growth and authenticity than I expected, I think because they worked as a group and could build off each other. They didn’t just find they spoke authentically. They influenced others to speak more openly and authentically to them. They thought more authentically, learning about internal things they didn’t before. Not every student got it to the same level, but those who did found some big discoveries. Anyone can. I hope you try the exercise. I’d love to hear how it goes for you.
I changed the name of the exercise from “Voice Your Inner Monologue” to “Your Authentic Voice” because of the value of authenticity in leadership and relationships.
I wrote up the exercise in the original post, “Communications skills exercises, part 10: voicing your self-talk.” If you haven’t tried it, it takes no extra time, money, or any other resource. As I mentioned, it may sound scary at first, but it becomes fun, rewarding, engaging, and creates connections you didn’t think possible. You’ll keep learning as long as you keep practicing it.
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