A Personal Development Guide to Discovering and Communicating Your Unique Story

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Around 8 years ago, a friend of mine asked if I would audition for a voice-over part in a Kids TV show.  I’d never done anything like that before, but to cut a long story short both my wife and I got parts, and we are still doing that work from time to time when a new episode is produced.

A couple of years later, I started a WordPress blog based on my experience with voice-over, which in turn led me to start building websites.  Two significant, yet different forms of Communication.

When I talk about Finding your Voice I’m not necessarily talking about your actual voice or even anything vocal.  But as I worked at the websites and developing my voice talent for the TV show, something else was happening too:  I was finding out who I was, what was important to me, and what I was capable of.

And looking back, I can see these gave significant direction to my Personal Development journey.

Who am I really?

Who am I to blow against the wind?
– Paul Simon

Finding Your Voice is about knowing who you are, knowing your story.  It’s about being comfortable with yourself to such an extent that you don’t have to pretend to be someone else.  It’s about knowing what you stand for, what’s important to you, and what you’re willing to fight for.  And it’s about discovering how to communicate in a way that carries your “voice” and causes it to resonate in the world around you.

Think about any successful novel writer.  They tell a story in a certain way, that is filled with their ideas, their “take”, their experiences, their struggles, their dreams.  However many books they write, there will be a common “voice” running between the lines.

Look at any Songwriter and Musician who’s made it: Their songs draw on deep emotions, and their lyrics communicate timeless meaning in a memorable way that can touch people’s heart around the globe.

Or maybe study some of the more successful entrepreneurs or motivational speakers. I’ve listened to Jim Rohn a lot over the last couple of years.  This was a man who knew who he was, was sure about his message and had developed a clear means of communicating it. Through his talks you get a lot of insight into who this man is, what his views are, what motivates him.  And weeks later, his message is still going around in my head as I mull over something that was stirred up deep inside.

5 Practical Steps to Finding Your Voice

The following steps give a practical guide to helping you “Find Your Voice”, develop your ideas and your thinking, and outline how to explore different mediums of communication that will ultimately propel you forward in your Personal Development journey.

This is a work in progress, so you may find that I change things here and there as time goes by and I go through the process that I’m describing myself.

(1) Record thoughts and ideas:

Don’t let anything slip away, and don’t trust to memory.  You will have ideas all the time, when you’re driving to work, when you’re sipping a coffee in Starbucks, when you’re playing golf, when you’re watching a movie.

The key is to have some way of recording ideas as they come to you.

I’ve found the best way by far is to dictate into my smartphone. It’s quicker than writing down, and easy to play back. However, there may be times when you don’t want to be talking to yourself, so a quick reminder in an App like Evernote can be just as good.  Or there is the old fashioned way, pen and paper.

Whatever you use to record those ideas, treat each one as priceless.  So a scrap of paper is not good enough, it will get lost.

Put aside time each week, say Sunday afternoon when it’s quiet, and go back over your ideas for that week.  Try to gather your ideas into a manageable format, reject the trash and hold onto the gold, or silver.

(2) Expand on Your Ideas:

Among the many weird and wonderful ideas and thoughts that you’ll have in any give week, a few things are going to stick with you and demand more attention.  These are the nuggets we are mining for, and it’s vital to give these ideas the time and respect they deserve.

A great way to expand on ideas and thoughts is to get writing.  This is exactly the process I’ve gone through in writing this blog post.  I had a little nugget of an idea, and I needed to expand on it.  By the time I’m finished writing, I’ll have everything much clearer in my head.

If you want to discover how Blogging can help you in the process of finding your voice, that’s a whole other subject but one I would recommend looking into.  I have a number of courses on setting up WordPress blogs and websites, and this course is free.

(3) Talk about it:

To yourself and to others.  Warning: if you are going to talk to others, be prepared to receive feedback.  If you only talk to yourself about your ideas, your feedback is probably not going to be very constructive (although talking through ideas when I’m driving the car can be really productive).

Your ideas need to be aired, even in their raw state.  And if you are going to hone and develop your “Voice” then you must be willing to listen to both the positive and the negative feedback.

This is a hugely important part of the process of Finding your Voice, and it’s at this stage when your vulnerabilities may begin to surface.  There is no easy way to approach this: you have to let the baby bird leave the nest.  It’s scary, and some people are not going to like what you have to say.  Worse, some people may disagree with you!

Take everything, the good and the bad, and make it work for you.  Continue to talk about your ideas, share them on Facebook, with your closest friend and family, in forums and at the pub.

(4) Get Communicating:

This stage is all about getting comfortable enough with yourself and your “unique take” that you are happy to share things on a wider scale.

Your message and the messenger are ready to go to work.

At this level, you are beginning to see your thoughts and ideas take up much more of your time in your daily life as they begin to take on shape and purpose. You are beginning to believe in yourself and your “voice” to such an extent that you are ready, or at least partly ready, to present it to the world.

The most important process now is to find your medium, your means of communication, and develop your skills in that area so that you become an effective communicator.

I mentioned blogging earlier, but more as a means of developing your ideas.  But blogging can be a powerful medium of communication, and is a very easy tool to learn to use.

Youtube is used by millions to get their message out there, so why not take advantage of this platform.  The world is your audience, if you are prepared to put yourself, or at least your voice, on camera.

Wise men speak because they have something to say; Fools because they have to say something.
– Plato

(5) Master of the Message:

Finally, or at least for now, taking your ideas and thoughts to the next level involves putting them into a format that others can learn from. You become the teacher, the master.  Others become your students or followers.

Now, I don’t want to encourage you to take on some kind of persona connected with Masters portrayed in movies, like Yoda or Darth Vader.  Teaching others what you know is a humbling experience, and we should be aware of how we can impact someone for good or bad.

When you can reach the stage of being able to formulate your thoughts, ideas and message into a book, or even a training course as I have, then you will be able to look back at your progress and see just how far you’ve come.  As you’re ideas have grown, you’ve grown so as to be able to hold the idea, and you will continue to do so.

Conclusion

I recently heard a voice-over coach teaching about how to “make it” in the voice-over industry, something that my wife is looking into because, well, she’s just so good at it.  This coach spoke about how many times budding voice talents have come to him with the same request: “Help me find my voice!”

His response was interesting and very challenging to me.  He said that finding your voice isn’t something you need to succeed at voice-over work.  You need to find your voice in life, so that you know who you are and what you’re about.

So if you haven’t found your voice yet, make it a priority and get to work.  I’m with you all the way.  Please join in the conversation and leave a comment below…

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