Many of the women who come to me for leadership coaching tell me that they want to have a bigger voice in the world, have more influence, and build something that matters; yet at the same time, they have fears around visibility.
Some of these women are able to clearly identify these fears – such as the fear of taking up “too much” of the spotlight, being called a “show-off,” sounding “stupid,” being accused of being “wrong,” or being challenged on their ideas and values.
Then there are others who aren’t quite able to put their finger on why they feel so scared. They tell me that they have made strides in their leadership, but for some reason they can’t go all the way. They keep getting tripped up. They come forward. Then they go back. They come forward. Then they go back. Forward. Back. Forward. Back. Like a little turtle going into her shell for safety and retreat.
I notice when these women come to me, they have a lot of confusion around what’s going on, and also massive self-judgment.
Why do I keep getting stuck? What is wrong with me? Why is this taking me so long? Why am I so scared to become visible and be that feminine leader I know I am meant to be?
I get it. I’ve been there. I know how painful it is.
Since my work revolves around the Divine Feminine and one of my messages has been about how I see feminine spirituality as a missing link to advancing more women in leadership, I have had huge fears around sounding like a loony and being taken to the “crazy house” when I talk about this.
A big fear of mine for a long time was that if I was challenged, would I be able to back up my argument with facts? I was paralyzed by this fear. Whenever I pictured myself speaking about this message in public, I envisioned I would freeze in silence, and then burn red with embarrassment because I couldn’t present the cold, hard facts in a “logical” way.
I realized later that this was because a lot of what I knew and wanted to speak about came from deep within my soul, so this could not always be backed up by cold, hard facts.
As I entered into more and more women’s circles, I learned that my experience was common among women. What many of us know comes from deep inside, connected to a feminine lineage that has long been silenced. For this reason, the “facts” aren’t always readily available to us, and even if they are, what we have to say usually is something that challenges the status quo.
In my case, because of this, I was much more comfortable keeping a low profile rather than stepping into my dharma as a teacher and leader.
But eventually this comfort grew into discomfort. I was so uncomfortable with keeping myself small; keeping my voice hidden; keeping my truths and my power inside. I knew I was meant for bigger things – bigger stages, bigger platforms, bigger venues. But I was not allowing myself all of this. I was terrified to stand up in front of people and voice my truth – even though I knew this was my destiny.
DOES THIS SOUND FAMILIAR TO YOU? HAVE YOU HAD AN EXPERIENCE LIKE THIS? MAYBE YOU ARE GOING THROUGH IT RIGHT NOW.
I want to acknowledge that there are a lot of fears that come up around being more visible as a feminine leader. It’s a vulnerable place to be. I get it. I’ve been there. And still constantly work on this and through this each time I am asked to step onto bigger stages.
I want you to know that if you have some major fears around visibility, you are not alone. This is an epidemic for women. And understandably so.
With that said, I believe it is paramount for more of us to be using our voice as public speakers on influential stages and platforms to tell our story, bring our creative ideas, wisdom and feminine perspective to the forefront, and lead the cultural conversation, rather than follow it.
WHETHER YOU ARE SPEAKING TO AN ARENA OF 10,000 PEOPLE, A THEATER OF 100 PEOPLE, OR A ROOMFUL OF 10 PEOPLE, YOUR VOICE MATTERS.
It is your voice that will bring about the much needed social and political change that our world needs.
But since many of us are so used to making ourselves small in order to not be “too loud,” “too much,” “too crazy,” “too brash,” “too angry,” “too you name it” or call forth unwanted sexual attention (this was a big one for me), this has literally made some of us collapse in our very own bodies. Our shoulders hunch, our posture folds, and we fear taking up space. We also dim our light.
Our body posture becomes a metaphor for how we show up in the world. For many of us, it’s the “I’m sorry” epidemic that we carry around just for being a woman. This does not bode well for public speaking.
Now is the season to change this.
3 Tips to Amp Up Your Public Speaking Presence
TIP 1: TUNE INTO THE HIGHER PURPOSE
What is the purpose of your talk? Whose lives do you want to improve by giving your talk? Before you go on stage, picture one person whose life could be made better in some small (or large) way as a result of you giving your talk. Then, from your heart, dedicate your talk to them.
TIP 2: TAKE UP SPACE
Before you go on stage, take one minute backstage, in the green room, or in a a private room to literally “take up space.” Stand with your feet wider than hip’s distance apart. Ground them firmly into the earth. Stretch out your arms, shoulder height, as far as you can on both the left and right sides. Spread your fingers on each hand. Reach your fingertips out as far as you can on both the right and left side. Keep your feet grounded. Feel your chest, heart and solar plexus open. Allow your heart to smile, your throat to open, and your eyes to focus. And Breathe. Remain in this space-taking, outstretched position for 1 minute, and Breathe.
Finish by bringing your hands to your heart and bow your head in gratitude for the magnificence of who you are. Say out loud: “I am a powerful woman. I am a Queen. I am a Goddess. I am taking up space with my voice, my body and my presence.”
TIP 3: SET AN INTENTION
Set an intention before you go on stage to focus your energy in the direction you want go. Choose something simple and positive. Something that makes you feel spacious and relaxed. For example, “My intention is to have fun, stay relaxed and connect with the audience.” (I often use this one.) Or you can go even simpler, such as “My intention is to simply be me.” Find what’s right for you and go for it.
BONUS: GIVE IT UP TO A HIGHER SOURCE
Instead of thinking of yourself as a “speaker,” think of yourself as a conduit or a vessel for your message from a Higher Source (whatever that is for you). This can help you get out of your own way, open up more space within you, and definitely amp up your stage presence.
Tabby Biddle, M.S. Ed. is a women’s leadership coach, strategist, writer and consultant. Her life’s work is devoted to elevating women’s voices. To learn more about using your voice, making an impact, and being a leader of change in this world, visit tabbybiddle.com.