I don’t know about you, but I grew up believing that if I wanted to succeed at something, I had to get things right. To do this, I listened to instructions, paid attention to what was expected of me, and followed the rules. Mistakes meant carelessness and were to be avoided at all costs.
You guys: How could I have been so wrong about something so fundamental, for decades? Gah! Okay, now that that’s out, let’s replace it with something better: To succeed, you need to use your voice. To find your voice, you need to put it into the world. You have to speak, then share the result with others. Even when you have no clue how it’ll turn out.
Find Your Medium. Start Doing It.
Chances are you already have a sense for the medium that’s calling you. Maybe you sing or write or design. I’ve got a friend who’s passion is supporting musicians by planning concerts. Maybe you’re a multipotentialite with umpteen ways to express yourself. Regardless, the best way to find your voice is to use it.
If you’re holding back, maybe you fit one of these categories:
- You think you have no right to hack your way into your medium. After all, there are pros out there who are actually qualified
- You sense your own power and aren’t sure what’ll happen if you let it out
- You’re in the middle of a cool project, things begin to flow and–ooh, shiny–another idea comes your way
- There’s enough happening in your life as it is. Who has time to create stuff AND manage to eat dinner every night? Whew!
I’ve lived all four, for as long as I can remember. This summer, though, I broke through them all and completed a big passion project. After talking about developing online courses for three years, I finally did it, y’all! About two weeks ago, I hit “publish” on a class I designed for the web: The Empowered Presenter: From Hesitance to Confidence in Ten Steps.
It feels so good to prevail, that I want you to feel that way, too. Here’s how I overcame my own hesitations and made my thing. Next, it’s your turn. Take these steps and do yours.
Own Your Story
Once I decided on my course topic, I signed up for a monthly challenge on Skillshare. The goal was to publish a class within 30 days, with prompts, tutorials, and support along the way. I excitedly told a mentor of mine about my class idea: I wanted to help introverts like me learn to give presentations.
Even though I wasn’t a natural presenter, I’d been doing it for nearly 15 years as a museum educator. Getting up in front of people–mostly teachers attending workshops and gaggles of kids in the gallery–was simply part of the job. We all did it.
It wasn’t till I left that job for a new opportunity that I had a realization: Public speaking is a specialized skill! Whaaat? (No, really, I didn’t know.) For so long, I’d been surrounded by colleagues like me who do it every day, I’d forgotten I’d had to learn how. I was equally surprised to discover that even being an educator was a strength I’d been undervaluing for too long.
Other Voices May Be Good, But They’re Not Yours
Emboldened by these revelations, I couldn’t wait to start building my course. Until I went on Skillshare and discovered several courses on giving presentations. “How could I possibly measure up to these?” I thought. “Who do I think I am? It’s not like I’m Tony Robbins or anything!” One class particularly spooked me. It was created by a guy who’d built a business around training people to give talks. He’d worked with big companies and everything.
Up came my next meeting with my mentor. I told him about my new class idea, now that I’d abandoned that silly “teaching about presenting” thing. Over the course of the next hour–yes, it took that long–he carefully convinced me of something. That other course may be good, but it didn’t have MY voice.
“Sure, a millennial male who exudes confidence is going to appeal to a subset of people,” said my mentor. “But what about a woman who openly talks about what it feels like to be nervous? That’s going to resonate with some, who may be turned off by that other class.” He said it again, “That other course doesn’t have YOUR voice.”
We ended our Skype call and I never looked back. I spent the next month and half making the class. And you know what happened? The process of developing it–breaking down steps, creating activities, designing images–reinforced a concept: I did, in fact, know what I was talking about. And even more: I had something to say!
So, what about you? What can you share with the world, but you hesitate? As I discovered, the best way to reinforce your value–yep, even to yourself–is to begin to speak.
[And now, for my post-post plug. You can access The Empowered Presenter: From Hesitance to Confidence two ways: completely for free or as a two-month free trial on Skillshare, where I’m always finding fun stuff to learn. Up next for me is a class called Just Make Stuff: Getting Creative with Side Projects. Fun!