Using Your Voice (Even When It Shakes)


If you are reading a magazine like this one, I would bet you have something to say. If you picked out this article to read… maybe you are simply afraid to say it.

I think one of the biggest misconceptions that I had growing up was that the people at the front, leading the pack, and making the decisions, were naturally brave.

I have come to believe (deeply and with a strong conviction) that the ‘movers and shakers’ in this world have simply learned the behavioral techniques to move intentionally, despite their internal and external limitations.

By Heather Parady


I remember attending a conference in my twenties and listening to the keynote speaker who led a massive nonprofit. I was intrigued by her because I lead a similar nonprofit (Except her nonprofit had hundreds of volunteers and donors, mine had only a handful).

Being that age and insecure, I noted the vast difference between our nonprofits’ success to there being something fundamentally wrong with me and my vision. (Ten years later I know that it was mostly a time issue. She had been running hers for 20+ years, mine was only a couple of years old… but you don’t always think clearly when you are listening to the ego.)

Something happened that night that I will be eternally grateful for.

I went up to meet her afterward and while I was waiting my turn to talk to her, I overheard her talking to her friend…

She was spouting off a bunch of insecurities about how the talk went. She seemed to be looking for reassurance about her speech and if the points she made “made sense”.

The bold, brave, and fearless woman that I envied, was no different than me:

The same insecurities. The same fears.

However, she stood on that stage anyway. She did the following night as well.

She continued to lead, continued to expand, and continued to impact peoples’ lives.

I return back to that moment a lot when I am faced with my own crippling self-doubt and try to remind myself that the presence of fear is not an indication that you are in the wrong lane (sometimes it is an indicator you are actually in the right one). And that if that bold, strong woman who led hundreds could lead despite her own insecurities, maybe I could too.

Okay Heather, thanks for the motivation… but now what?

THE FEARS (a couple of them at least)

I was on the phone with a client the other day. We were working through her hesitation to “use her voice” online in the way that she said she wanted. Over the past few weeks, she had been sharing her desire to build an online brand, reach women in business, and unapologetically share her own story.

She was paralyzed by fear though and bravely shared the two main reasons she was hesitating to step fully into this powerful brand and share her message:

She said that at first, she was concerned that at the end of the day, she wouldn’t know enough (what if I proclaim to be an expert about “x” only to find out that I am not an expert…?). Second, what if after I make these bold proclamations about my brand, I get bored and change my mind? Will people take me seriously?


To the first point, what if I do not know enough?

I recently bought a training from one of my very favorite communicators, Rob Bell, called Something to Say (I am not affiliated with this training, just recommend it if you are a communicator). Rob beautifully addressed this fear in a way that I haven’t heard before.

Usually, when someone tells us that they don’t think they are worthy enough to talk about “x” we rush to the well-meaning advice, “You know more than you think!” Which I wouldn’t argue. However, it is missing some parameters (and safety!) that Rob shared in this training.

He suggested that when we “use our voice” whether it is through writing, speaking, creating a piece of content online, etc, all we have to do is simply share what we have lived.

That’s it.

What you have experienced, what you have learned, what you have lived. No one can take that away from you. Your story, your experience, is yours. How could you ever be an imposter then?

The strain, stress, and anxiety come in when we don’t believe that is ENOUGH. We want to inflate what we know or have lived because WE don’t feel like enough.

I know I have experienced this and fought to achieve more only to discover at the end of the day, that I am still me. My insecurities never left regardless of what I accomplished. I had to get comfortable with myself, own my story, my experience, and what I know (and what I do not).

Speak only to what you know, no one can take that away from you.


To her second point, what if I change my mind? What if I use my voice on “x topic” only to discover I am passionate about something else, or maybe even change my mind about something I have already publicly stated?

Again, fair.

I was on a call with my therapist just earlier today, and he pointed out to me that when I am afraid of others judging me (something I often do!) I am, in reality, judging myself first.

Have you ever done that? Judged yourself before someone else could get the chance? You forfeit the game before you get on the field?

I think this fear of “what if I change my mind” is just a judgment. Because when we realistically look at the people we admire, people who have shaped history, we more often than not see continual shifts and pivots. And I am not talking about small things. I am talking about massive adjustments to messaging and even flat-out changing industries.

My response to her wasn’t, “Oh, that won’t happen”. Instead, I confirmed to her that it absolutely would. She would probably change, a hundred times over. And what a gift that is.

What a gift.

Action shares clues (some say it gives clarity) Without movement in some direction it’s hard to find the hidden pieces inside of us that we never knew were there.

So what if you change? Know that you will.

(That’s the point, isn’t it?)


I honestly hate that phrase. Not sure why, it just sounds painful. It’s true though, either way.

You have something to say. Maybe your voice is a little trembling (or a lot). Maybe you were conditioned to believe your voice didn’t matter, or maybe your heart was broken when you tried using it and were shut down. Regardless, to find it again, you have to use it.


Whether it is an unformed sentence, a Haiku with too many words, a podcast with a less ideal microphone, an incomplete business idea…

Use your voice anyway, even if it shakes. Because I promise, it won’t shake for long.

About the author

Heather is a mental health therapist turned online entrepreneur who helps outside-the-box leaders bring their services online in order to scale their impact. She is the host of two top-ranked podcasts, Unconventional Leaders and Happy Brain.


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