Whether commanding a room, asking for help and growing your brand, there’s so much to discover when you learn how to cultivate and harness the power of your voice as a small business owner.
I’ve been running my business and brand as a speaker and coach for the past 8 years. In the beginning, I thought I needed an agent or speaker’s bureau to help me get started and get my name out into the world. I didn’t have any of that, so instead I used something I was born with — my voice.
I pitched a television show, and ended up being on air for six seasons. From there, I started to deliver more talks and used my voice to show up on social media. I began telling event organizers that I was what their events needed. The more I networked and spoke, the more people were introduced to me and the more opportunities came my way.
In 2015, I was invited to host a TEDx event in Toronto. I was excited for the huge opportunity and proud that my voice had taken me there. As we were preparing for the event, I was told the TEDx organizers needed to review my pre-written introductions. This request came from their public speaking coach (which I didn’t even know was a thing at the time) and I told her flat out: “No.”
I explained that my style is to speak in real time, from the heart. She told me that wasn’t how TEDx worked, and that they needed to see my content ahead of time. Instead of changing my style and approach for this event, I explained that it wouldn’t feel like me if it was scripted and prescribed. I showed her videos of my television show and other talks I had given — none of which had a script. She was so surprised to find out I had been winging it in everything I showed her. I was allowed to proceed without pre-written introductions and at the end of the event the speaking coach gave me her card and said: “This isn’t for you — this is for somebody who needs it. Pass it on to someone else.”
I trusted my voice and my ability to speak on the fly — which enabled me to be fully present and in the moment as TEDx’s host that day. Two years later, I became a speaking coach.
Your voice is the secret sauce of your business strategy. You use it to introduce yourself, reassure yourself, ask for what you need and negotiate. The beautiful thing about your voice is that it’s a renewable resource — you don’t have to buy a monthly subscription or a license or pay a fee — it’s yours. And the more you use it, the better it gets.
These are five of my favourite affirmations to help me feel more confident. When you feel stuck or scared to use your voice, I encourage you to take a couple minutes to say these words. Put your hand on your chest and say each out loud with confidence and conviction:
1. Every time I open my mouth I’m improving
This one is dedicated to the perfectionists out there who think that the first time they deliver their elevator pitch, introduce themselves or make a sizzle reel, that it’s going to come out perfectly the first time. Breaking news: it’s not always going to happen. Don’t focus on perfection, focus on growth. Every time you talk about your business, your ideas, or your brand, you’re getting better. And with every opportunity, you’ll be more connected and learn to trust yourself more. Allow yourself room to grow each and every time you open your mouth to speak.
2. My story is worth sharing
We’re not all tech CEOs with a heart-wrenching story about starting on the streets, surviving only on Goldfish crackers, and overcoming many obstacles to make millions. Your story is your story. You don’t have to go through something monumental or fight a dragon along the way for folks to find your story compelling. There is value in your story, people will resonate with it, and it is worth sharing.
3. Can I wing this? Yes I can!
This one is especially for the people who think they need to write everything down or memorize every single word they want to say. You can wing it. Your audience does not know what you’re going to say. You are there to talk about you, your ideas and your brand. They are ready to hear what you have to say and receive it. The more you improvise or wing your talks, the better you’ll get. Show yourself that you trust your ideas and your ability to share them in real time. (Because every time you open your mouth you’re improving, right?)
4. I have the ability to captivate any audience
I don’t care who is in the room, what their title is, how much money they make or how many social media followers they have — you can wow anybody. And whether it’s the first year or the fifteenth year of your business, your energy, your presence and your story plays a role in how you impact others. You have the ability to captivate any audience just by being you.
5. No one will hear me unless I open my mouth
If you’re not talking about your ideas, introducing yourself or telling people why they should support your business, no one is going to hear you. People are not mind readers — they need to know about you, your brand or your business in order to seek you out. Now is the time to start using your voice.
Eight years after starting my business, I still don’t have an agent and I’m not part of a speaker’s bureau. My voice has been the number one thing that has given me opportunities, opened doors, and put me on stages I never thought I’d be on. Your voice can do the same for you. Utilize that free resource that you were given, and believe in the power of your voice.
About the Author
Jahmeelah “Jam” Gamble is an award winning media personality, sought out keynote speaker, and CEO behind “Slay The Mic”, a program that helps aspiring speakers, content creators, and entrepreneurs transform their voice.
Learn more about Jam at iamjamgamble.com or on Instagram at @iamjamgamble