I’ve always wanted to be taken seriously. I strove to speak in a commanding manner, ClearAnd strong. I sought for whoever was in front of me – parent, manager, audience or partner – to respect my words. I wanted to be he heard.
I remember standing in Public Speaking 101 class in college, clutching my tongue and obsessing over how perfectly I could get my message across. The back of the shoulders! No mothers! Does not like! When it was time to go, my teacher interrupted me after 20 seconds. “Don’t cross your legs,” he said. stand taller Think Winston Churchill. Off.
I am not alone in this battle. Countless people, mostly women, have struggled to capture minds in our (still) white, male-dominated culture. I suspect if you’re reading this, you have too. You may have thought: What will make me look strong? How do I talk without any “moms” or “likes”? And why is it so hard to feel heard when I have something to say?
Featured image from Our interview with Papa Rivera by Bellathe Photography.
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How to be heard: Tips from author Samara Bay
Here’s the flip: It doesn’t have to be hard, he thinks Samara Bay. We need to change the form of force. Pai, a respected Hollywood author and speech and communication expert, believes that when we think of what power looks like, we conjure up images of privileged white men, such as JFK and Steve Jobs. As amazing as they are, these numbers were the foundation of what we think is the “right” way to look strong. As Pai writes in her engaging book, Permission to speakThere is “a certain kind of voice we’ve grown up hearing that sounds like command and conviction.” This has created a brick wall against which we smashed ourselves and lost our voice.
There is “a certain kind of voice that we grew up hearing that sounds like command and conviction.” This has created a brick wall against which we smashed ourselves and lost our voice.
Bay works to break down this wall and open up the room for everyone to see their strength. Rather than perpetuating the masculine ideals of what strength we’ve been taught should look like, she encourages us to look within. She’s fighting for us to uniquely honor what we say and how we say it — moms, likes and all.
I spoke with Bey about her mission to help all of us honor our voices. These are my biggest takeaways from our conversation and her book.
By helping us all see the strength within all of us, Pai is changing the world.
We must unpack our audio stories
I had never heard an “audio story” until reading Permission to speak. Much like the story of money or the story of the body, Bay posits, the way we talk has a history, too. “This suggests a story, not like a narrative, but a story like a collection of myths that may or may not serve us,” Bay tells me. We may have been in many rooms where we had to quiet our voices or change our tunes. Maybe we got scared because the way we sound is different from the strong man in the room. Therefore, we have chosen habits and ideas, some of them to our detriment. We’ve made these “micro-adjustments throughout our lives for people to lean on, not lean on,” Pai continues.
“We all have a sonic story because we live in a culture that has thousands of years of opinions about what strong people should look like.” Samara Bay
The key, as I learned from Bay, is knowing there is nothing wrong with the way I speak. There is nothing wrong with the road You speak. Bey believes we all choose the speaking habit for a reason. “When someone pulls you into a room and tells you ‘say Likes So much, “and then you feel a wave of shame follow, I’m here to wave that flag of empathy and say, ‘You picked up this habit for a reason. I served you a room to keep you safe and to keep you from being unafraid.”
Informal language “makes the world go around”
When I first read Bei’s words, I cried. audibly. “Plain, conversational, and simple language helps people communicate,” Pai wrote. Unless you are involved in legal proceedings […]You probably have more room to speak informally than you think.”
Let’s take all of that. Gone are the school days of extracting the exact “perfect” words from the thesaurus. Bey says to speak with our unique hearts, souls, and minds. this is how it is heard.
Think of your family’s speech. Was the person using big, bad words and complex sentences? No. Instead, these epic conversations, from impassioned Oscar acceptance speeches to touching graduation talks, are from someone’s heart. As Bay told me, these people “approach it from a love-based perspective: How do I talk about what I care about in a way that makes me trustworthy and makes the thing I care about contagious? How do I spread care out loud? “
However, informal speech and conversations do not mean carelessness. Bay writes “Your words matter, not because they are admirable in themselves, but because they are your opportunity to be as accurate as possible in capturing what they mean to the specific ears you hope to hear.”
We must get in touch with our emotions
Do you know when you can feel the pain, the joy, and the fighting in someone when they’re talking? These are their emotions on full and strong display. Leaning in to what we feel is crucial to winning hearts and minds. So where do we start? By taking advantage of our humanity. “We must move ourselves before moving others,” Pai wrote, “and we must move others to get what we want—to get what we all want.”
When we experience a deep emotional blow, this tells us ““Something here is bigger than me,” Bay says. Often when we feel like we might cry, or our voice might crack, or we might speak too loudly, we immediately shame ourselves because we don’t want to come off as “inseparable.” Winston Churchill’s voice wasn’t sentimental, so I can’t. on the contrary. Leaning into our feelings is what drives our message forward. As Bay writes, “Without an emotional component, no one will remember what you said.”
So how do we benefit from our emotions? By communicating with our bodies. “Your body is part of you,” Li Bai tells me. “She has some deep wisdom that you can’t access unless you do something that makes you feel good. So dance, run, walk, jump, do yoga. Get physical for the flow of your feelings. Think of doing it as a way to improve the world. Because every single one of us deserves to feel.” By force and listening.