Joan Curtis asked:
Whether you run a small business or are a CEO in a major corporation, if you don’t speak up, you will not reach your full potential. Susan RoAne, in her landmark book, How to Work the Room tells us that 93 percent of people report that they are shy. This number astounded me and tends to astound the groups I speak to. What it means is that only 7 percent of us believe ourselves not to be shy!
When I walk into a room full of people and see all those friendly faces, conversing freely with each other, I have to believe that more than 7 percent of them are confident, outgoing people. On the other hand, the 93 percent statistic comes from what people say about themselves. That means most of us consider ourselves shy, regardless of how we act in social and professional settings.
How can we learn to Speak up for Success? Many people decide they cannot do it. They decide to live in a quiet world in which they spend time with close friends and family. They decide not to Speak up for Success and remain on the back row.
But, others of us want more. Others of us are reading Oprah’s books on how to become successful’how to set challenging goals for ourselves. Millions of people are spending time and money on coaching to become more than just average. Those are the people who want to learn how to Speak Up for Success in as painless a way as possible.
As a person who most people would call outgoing, as a person who has spent most of her life in front of groups, and as a person, who, yes, would say, if asked, she’s shy, I have learned some ways to make Speaking Up for Success easier.
How to Speak Up for Success
*Start small. Look for places where you can speak up safely. You want to build your confidence. That means not volunteering to speak to the local Chamber of Commerce. It means speaking up at dinner when your son challenges you. It means telling your wife that you need some time to yourself. It means asking your boss for some time off.
*Join a coaching group. Coaching groups will give you both the support and the skills you need to Speak up for Success. Coaching in a group costs a fraction of one-on-one coaching. It is the first step you can take to build your confidence and to reach that goal. In a coaching group you can determine what speaking up means to you, you can set your own personal goals, you can learn tips from the coach, and you can get support from the group. Take a look at the virtual coaching group offered on my site.
*Deal with your “inner critic.” The inner critic is that little voice inside your head that tells you things like, “You’ve got nothing important to say,” or “No one wants to listen to you,” or “Whatever you say will sound stupid,” or “Everyone else is better educated than I am.” This voice will put the brakes on anything you might want to say. Recognize that we all have an inner critic. We all hear the same voice you hear. Some of us have learned to turn that voice off. You can do it, too! *Research and study the blogs that deal with public speaking. You can find a lot of information on my blog. There you will see posts with tips about speaking out, not just public speaking. You will also see a list of other blogs (blogroll) that you can explore.
*After you have practiced speaking up in safe situations, graduate to more challenging places. Speak up at the next meeting of department heads. Speak up the next time your book club meets. Speak up in your Sunday School class. Make small goals but goals that move you forward from the kitchen table to the Sunday School class to the board room to the Rotary Club.
* If you’re thinking I’m too old, or I’m too young, or I’m too shy, or I’m too whatever, I suggest you take a look at Aimee Mullin’s video at www.kennethcole.com/thinkers/bio1.asp. That short video will blow you away. Her advice: “I don’t think any of us reach our full potential when we become comfortable. I look for ways to get comfortable with being uncomfortable. . . We have an opportunity to start over everyday.”
You’ve taken the first step toward Speaking Up for Success. You’ve read this entire article. The challenge now lies with taking that second step. It’s not so hard, you just have to do it!