How I’ve Found and Used My Voice with Carol Cox: Podcast Ep. 266

How I've Found and Used My Voice with Carol Cox Podcast Ep. 266 | Speaking Your Brand

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In this episode, I share 3 ways public speaking has helped me to find and use my voice and the lessons I’ve learned along the way that may help you too.

I take a broad view of public speaking = stages, in front of audiences, on TV, in the media, also virtual presentations and podcasting, live streaming, video.

Public speaking, in all of these ways, helps you to get your message out, to share your thought leadership ideas, and to have a bigger impact. It’s also an incredible way for more people to know about your business and the work you do and  to attract clients, speaking engagements, and media opportunities.

I talk about:

  • The one time when I was on TV that I momentarily lost my voice and had to ask for a retake
  • The lesson I learned about going on TV to shift my goal from persuasion to validation
  • Creating this podcast every week for the past 5 years and the role that imperfection has played in finding and using my voice
  • How in-person speaking has shaped my voice (including failures) and the connection between the voice and body
  • Key takeaways you can consider for finding and using your voice

About Us: The Speaking Your Brand podcast is hosted by Carol Cox. At Speaking Your Brand, we help women entrepreneurs and professionals clarify their brand message and story, create their signature talks, and develop their thought leadership platforms. Our mission is to get more women in positions of influence and power because it’s through women’s stories, voices, and visibility that we challenge the status quo and change existing systems. Check out our coaching programs at



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266-SYB-My-Voice.mp3: Audio automatically transcribed by Sonix

266-SYB-My-Voice.mp3: this mp3 audio file was automatically transcribed by Sonix with the best speech-to-text algorithms. This transcript may contain errors.

Lessons I’ve learned over the years on finding and using my voice on this episode of the Speaking Your Brand podcast. More and more women are making an impact by starting businesses running for office and speaking up for what matters. With my background as a TV political analyst, entrepreneur and speaker, I interview a coach purpose driven women to shape their brands, grow their companies and become recognized as influencers in their field. This is Speaking Your Brand, your place to learn how to persuasively communicate your message to your audience. For the first time in over 10 years of doing political analysis on TV news, I had to ask for a retake. It was election night, November 8th, 2016. I was sitting in the cavernous, frigid studio that the NBC News station had converted into their political headquarters for election coverage. Usually I was cold, but not tonight. The jacket I brought to put over my sleeveless dress had been tossed aside and the blanket it tipped from the anchor. Women that I usually hid underneath the table over my legs was out of sight. I had a ride at the new studio at four p.m. that day, well before the polls closed and well before we knew any of the vote counts. As they look back at the news footage, I can see my face change as the hours progressed from hope at six p.m. As I inwardly rejoiced at the first woman president about to be elected and the glass ceiling, she was literally and figuratively about to break to guarded optimism.

At eight p.m. when the polls finally closed in Florida and the initial vote, reports started coming in to a queasy disbelief. At 11 p.m., as Florida was called for, Donald Trump and the Electoral College math suddenly changed direction. All the while, inappropriate and sexist remarks were filling the comment section of the Facebook Live feed that the new studio was streaming to, as myself, the Democratic analyst and my Republican counterpart, a man commented on the election. Now it was 11:45 p.m. We had just finished our live portion of the 11:30 news and we were taping a segment that would air the next morning as a recap. I knew what I needed to say to answer the question the reporter had asked me, after all, I had done this hundreds of times, but my brain wasn’t processing and my mouth wasn’t coming up with the right words. I was speechless for what seemed like a full minute, but was probably about 10 seconds still an eternity when you’re on TV. I recover quickly and went on to finish the tape segment. I realized later that I was in a state of shock, as many Americans, especially women, were at the time shock that the blatant sexism and misogyny and racism that had been on display throughout the 2016 campaign had been rewarded. I had temporarily momentarily lost my voice, although this particular story I just shared is about politics and TV.

It’s much bigger than that. It’s about what happens when women’s voices are absent and silenced for generations. And then once women become more numerous and more prominent in the public sphere, their voices get diminished, ridiculed, harassed, sequestered and silenced once again. This is why I’m so passionate about the work I do at Speaking Your Brand to help women find and use their voice. If you’re new to the podcast, welcome. I’m Carole Cox, your host and founder of Speaking Your Brand. If you’re a returning listener, thank you so much for joining me once again. In this episode, I’m going to share three ways public speaking has helped me to find and use my voice and the lessons I’ve learned along the way that may help you too. I take a broad view of public speaking. Certainly, it’s on stages in front of live audiences. It’s also on TV, in the media virtual presentations, which we’ve all gotten much more used to doing over the past two years, and also podcasting, live streaming and video. Public speaking and all of these ways helps you to get your message out, to share your ideas, to have a bigger impact. It’s also an incredible way for more people to know about your business and the work you do to attract clients and to attract speaking engagements and media opportunities. And we need more women out there visible with voices, sharing their opinions, sharing their ideas, sharing their expertise on stages, on TV, in the media virtually and all the way around.

Let’s take a look now at the three ways public speaking has helped me to find and use my voice and the lessons I’ve learned that may help you too. The first way is definitely been going on a TV. Being on TV is certainly authority and credibility building. It also builds the muscle of showing up and speaking up, especially about challenging topics, which if you talk about politics, it’s always going to be challenging. And here’s the thing I had to show up to go on TV even though I was scared. And even though I felt way out of my league, I was the chairperson and the media spokesperson for my local Democratic Party. And once the media learned that because we put out a PR campaign when I was elected, they started calling me to come on TV to talk politics. And at first I was excited when I got the invitations as most of us would be. And then as the day started to count down and I knew I had to go on and show up, I started getting really nervous. Of course, I prepared and had my notes and but I showed up at the TV studio. I had never been in a TV studio before sitting down with fellow journalists who had lots of experience sitting across from current congressmen. It was definitely intimidating.

My heart felt like it was going to literally jump out of my chest, but I held my own and the more I did it, definitely the better that I got in. The less nervous that I became. The lessons that I learned from going on TV was learning how to think quickly, how to share opinions and to talk to a general audience. The thing about being on TV unlike, say, podcasting or even public speaking where you have a niche audience is that on TV, you’re talking to a very general audience. So you have to be very quick about what you’re talking about, have sound bites and lay it out for them in a way that’s easily understandable. You also, at least with politics, have to be willing to share opinions about what is going on because there is no certainty. When the reporter asked, Well, how do you think this particular issue or this particular situation is going to impact the voters? Of course, I would pull information from polls that have been done, but also I had to share my own opinions. And I think back now to when I first started going on TV two thousand five, two thousand six and then even into the 2008 and 2012 elections is that I saw my goal as persuading, persuading the audience to vote for Democratic candidates. And of course, that’s what I would still love for the audience to do. But by the time I got to the end of that 2016 election, that 2016 campaign.

Which was so hard, I can’t even tell you how many times, especially after the conventions in August or late July and August, how many times after that point that I just didn’t want to do it anymore. It was physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually draining. But I was so passionate about making sure that there was a woman’s voice on TV talking about politics that I and because there are so many men, almost all of the the panels that I would go on would be all men and I would be the only woman there. So I knew that I had to keep doing it. But I decided that my goal was no longer to try to persuade people to change their minds about who to vote for, because that was just too taxing on me. Instead, my goal became to validate those who already understood the value of voting for Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. So basically preaching to the choir in the sense to validate and to make them understand that they’re not alone in their ideas, they’re not alone with what they were thinking and who they wanted to vote for. And then above all, I, as I mentioned, to be a woman’s voice on TV talking about politics, and so many times I hear from clients who are very passionate about their topic and they want to persuade people they want to convince people to do the thing that they have done.

And I explain to them that you can certainly talk about what you’ve done and you can share the benefits that have happened for yourself and for your clients and especially regarding your thought leadership. The benefits, maybe for the society as a whole, but you can’t convince people by knocking them over the head or by or by trying to evangelize to them. You have them take them on this journey of discovery. And so that’s one of the things that we do when we work with our clients is to help them mold their message in a way that is the most receptive to their particular audience. Here’s one more lesson about going on TV is don’t read the comments, as I mentioned in the opening story. If you are a woman and especially if you’re a woman of color and if you go on TV because it’s a public medium, you’re going to hit, just find so many, just people trolls who will be on social media, whether it’s a Facebook Live feed or Twitter or so on. And just don’t read the comments. I did an episode back at the end of last year, number two fifty three with one of my clients, Dr. Christina Madison, who’s been on TV over 200 times since the pandemic started. She’s a public health pharmacist and we agreed. Not reading the comments is the best way to go. So certainly, if you have an opportunity to go on TV, pitch your local media, one of the trainings we do in the Thought Leader academy is how to pitch your local media.

It is such a credibility builder and like I mentioned, is will build the muscle of learning how to think quickly on your feet. The second way that I have found and used my voice over the years is through this podcast. Unlike TV, podcasting is an intimate medium. I feel like I have developed a relationship with you as the listener. And also the great thing about having your own podcast is you get to control it. You select the topics and you select the guests. Podcasting is an excellent way for you to explore your ideas, to explore your thought leadership, to find different ways of presenting your topics, to think about what matters to you and what matters to your listeners. And here’s the lessons I have taken from podcasting right now as this episode airs. This is the five year anniversary of the Speaking Your Brand podcast. I launched it in late February of Twenty Seventeen. I can’t believe that it’s been five years. The consistency of having to put an episode out every single week has certainly helped me to find and use my voice. It has taught me about imperfection. Done is better than perfect when you’re running a business, when you’re doing client delivery, when you’re doing marketing and sales, and you’re putting out a podcast every week.

It cannot be perfect. I don’t have the time for it to be perfect. There are so many times that I record a solo episode and I wish that I could redo it. I think of other things that I want to say or other ways that I want to say it. And I just know it has the ship like the phrase Just ship it. It just has to go out every single week, and that’s OK because it allows an opportunity for iteration. If you get stuck in perfectionism, then you’re never going to iterate because you’ll never actually release to the public what it is that you’re working on. The other thing about podcasting, especially because it is an intimate medium, is that it allows for vulnerability and transparency. And I’ve been trying to do this on the podcast, especially over the past couple of years and episode number ninety two. So this was back pretty early on. I talked about a TED talk that I did and how I totally bombed it. If you haven’t listened to that episode and you want to know that we all sometimes have public speaking incidents that are not the ones that we would think of as successes. Well, this was certainly not. So that was episode number ninety two. And then in the summer August of Twenty Twenty, I did episode 180. For about my father who passed away when I was in college and what I learned from that experience, so that was certainly a very vulnerable episode and I, you know, had that sense of hesitation and vulnerability hangover and putting it out there.

But I’m so glad that I did because of the responses that I got from listeners and from clients. So the lesson that I take from finding and using my voice through podcasting is that my thought leadership has definitely developed because of doing this podcast every single week. It has led to speeches that I’ve done. It has led to the book proposal that I’m working on right now. Having that consistent platform every single week and realizing that you just have to ship it every week is why we encourage our Thought Leader Academy clients to choose a container for their thought leadership message, a container that involves some type of consistent output. Whether it’s a podcast, a LinkedIn Live show, an Instagram Live show, Facebook Live show, it could be a video series, something that they’re doing something on a regular basis. It could be every other week, but I would say at a minimum every other week and weekly is is ideal. So that was the second way podcasting that I found and use my voice. The third way, of course, is public speaking, and I’m going to focus on public speaking in person and like going on TV. And unlike podcasting, public speaking is in front of a live audience. It’s relational. There’s an energy exchange between you as a speaker and the audience.

There’s that dynamic that you don’t get here when I’m just talking into this microphone on a podcast and even different if you’re doing a guest interview on a podcast or a live show when it’s virtual, there’s just a different dynamic, a different type of energy than there is when you’re in person. A couple of weeks ago, I did an episode with Susan Moe, and we talked a little bit about this idea of energy exchange and our advanced program for keynote speakers called the Catalyst Collective. Our theme for the month of March that we’re in right now is on energy management and self-care for speakers. I mentioned that I had bombed this TED talk that I gave, and it’s because I got so in my head that my body shut down. I was presenting. It was a small group as about 50 women and was for a TEDx women event. And most of them I knew they were my friends, my colleagues, my peers and I was so nervous because here I was the public speaking coach and I put so much pressure on myself that literally my body is shut down. And then a few weeks ago, in episode two sixty three, I shared a clip from a keynote that I recently gave on a professional experience and the backlash that ensued where I had initially found my purpose and I had found my voice. And then because of this backlash of being a woman with a public presence in a public voice, I lost my purpose, I lost my confidence and I lost my voice for several years after that.

And I think back to all of the speaking engagements I’ve done over the years, high school, college and in my career, there have definitely have been high points and low points. And I know that when I feel most grounded, when I feel most connected to my body is when I have the best experience. But I feel like also the audience then takes the most away from it has the best experience for themselves. So my lesson I’m finding and using my voice related to public speaking in person is that the voice and the body are connected. Feeling comfortable in my own skin has been essential. This is why I’m so grateful that I did that improv class two years ago, because it really helps you to get into your body. Being a public speaker for sure has built my confidence and has also helped me to form connections literally through the process of talking out loud. This is why in our Thought Leader Academy, we have live weekly group calls plus one on one coaching calls because I have seen the impact and power of women. When they literally talk their ideas out loud, you can almost see them take shape like that little like proverbial light bulb above their head where they have aha moments because they’re saying things out loud.

We’re acting as a sounding board. That reflection for them and they see their ideas take shape. Here are the overall lessons for you to think about as far as finding and using your voice. Clarity and confidence come from action. Clarity and confidence. Rarely come just from thinking about things in your own head or even writing about it, journaling about it. Those are definitely good things to do, but find ways to talk out loud, get those speaking engagements on the calendar. So you have a date to work towards pitch for podcasts and do interviews because it’s through answering questions and through talking about your ideas, talking about your stories that that clarity and confidence is going to come. The second thing is pick a platform, whether it’s a podcast, LinkedIn Live, Instagram Live, show, a video series and do it every week or minimum every other week. And here’s the thing commit to it for a year. It takes time to build an audience, no one, but it also takes time for you to iterate through ideas for you. To think about things that you want to talk about, it’s relatively easy to think about 10 or 20 topics that you would do based on your area of expertise based on the work that you do in your business. But once you get to episode 30, episode 50, episode 50, certainly episode one hundred, episode two hundred, you have to really stretch and think about what else do I want to talk about? What are deeper topics here? What else is meaningful to me? So pick a platform and commit to it for a minimum of one year? I wouldn’t even say keep going longer.

Like, this podcast is five years old now, and I don’t have an end date for it. I’m going to keep podcasting as long as this medium is around. The third thing about finding and using your voice is be willing to be imperfect. Your ideas will evolve and take shape the more you talk about them. And then the fourth thing is have a support system. I talked about that in episode two, sixty three and the story that I shared in my keynote about how I didn’t have a support system at the time. And that’s why I lost my confidence and lost my voice for several years after that. And I recognize that having a strong support system, especially a fellow women speakers, women entrepreneurs has been absolutely essential for me. And this is why I created the Thought Leader Academy to give you that clarity and confidence, plus the action steps, the accountability, the support and the community. Our spring enrollment is open now and you can get all of the details and submit your application as Speaking Your Brand academy. Let me share with you some testimonials from a few of the women who recently graduated from our Thought Leader academy.

The first one up is Dr. Kieran Beard, and she said that the Thought Leader Academy is the best learning experience online ever and she ever in all caps. And she said I’ve attended many and that the thought leadership gang and her are joined at the hip now shell. Phelps shared on LinkedIn that it was an experience the thought leader academy that changed my world around. I’m so thankful for this group. You’re coaching and sharing such incredible insights with us. Such an empowering experience. Thank you to all the women that took this journey. And then Ashley Rennie shared this on LinkedIn and in a blog post, she said that yesterday, which was the graduation call when she wrote This post, ended one of the greatest gifts I’ve ever given myself. I graduated from Speaking Your Brand’s thought leader academy. She said while it’s the end of the four month journey I’ve been on, I also know that it’s just the beginning of my thought leadership journey and I’m so excited that I could pop as a business owner, specifically a female business owner. I know that being merely a copywriter isn’t enough for me, and by the way, Ashley is an incredible copywriter. She said, Don’t get me wrong, I love being a copywriter. I love being able to help my clients find their voice right banging copy and help them make bank. And she continues, But I’m more than a copywriter. I’m a human being with thoughts, dreams, desires, beliefs and ideas.

And it’s very important to me that my business reflects that because that’s how I bring in the people that I love working with, and the same goes for you. And she concluded, the thought leader academy is a slice of heaven where incredible women meet once a week and are coached into crafting and honing their thought leadership messages and their signature talks. Thank you to Karen and Michel, and to Ashley and to all of the other women who graduated from the Thought Leader Academy over the past year, plus for being part of our group and for sharing your experiences on social media, of course. Of course, that’s such an incredible way for more women to find out about the work that we do. If you would like to join us in the Thought Leader Academy, you can get all the details and you can submit your application by going to Speaking Your Brand academy. Again, that’s Speaking Your Brand academy after you fill out the application. The next step is that we schedule a 30 minute Zoom call with you to talk through your application, answer any questions you have, and make sure that the academy is the best fit for you. In the next episode of this podcast, I’m going to talk about how the way to gender equality is through public speaking. I’ve talked about it a little bit here in this episode, but we’re going to dive deeper into this idea next week. So until next time, thanks for listening.

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