I used to have a deep fear of public speaking. I couldn’t put my hand up in a group, in case I might be called to speak. I couldn’t hold let alone use a microphone. I was so terrified of my voice.
Years ago I was on a personal development weekend, as part of a volunteer team supporting participants to do transformative work on their mindset, beliefs and hurt. Something changed for me that day. In a team meeting I managed to speak up. Through shaky knees and quivering voice and heartbeats that boomed loudly, I spoke my truth. It wasn’t pretty, but I spoke. Even though my voice was quiet, I felt a rush of power run through me.
The change has been remarkable. I’m still shy by nature but I can teach a class of 60 people. I still get the runs the day before and have to rise early on the day to feel prepared. But I do it, and even enjoy it.
When my brother got married, he introduced me to the guests in his speech and said ’that’s my sister, she doesn’t take shit from anyone’. It was a huge compliment. Although I can be kind and calm, I have a fire in my belly that will stand up for what I believe in. That’s the part of me that I want to be seen more.
There’s something whirling in me. I feel called to speak on things that tickle my curiosity or that I support or disagree with. It seems to me that so many people are asleep or distracted. And so many people don’t have a voice. I’m part of Women’s Voices, which is an initiative by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists. An organisation that has only the second woman president. I have the choice to use my voice to speak up for others. And by writing and teaching I feel as if I am learning the power of the voice for change.
If you have a voice, use it. If you are a service user, speak up at the meetings eg the Maternity Voice Partnership gives feedback on maternity care. Be a governor of a school. Give feedback to customer service of things that you liked and things that you didn’t. Having a voice is a privilege, so use it to make a better world.