I remember the feeling. My hands were sweaty, my body was shaking a bit, my heart was beating really fast and I felt like all of my words and thoughts were running away from my tongue in a million different directions. That, my friend, is called stage fright and it was all over me. My first request, my first speech and it was terrifying. Interestingly enough, my topic was on how we can better society by creating better sports leagues. Although it was big for me, it’s not quite a Nobel Prize winning topic.
So here’s the question, if that was hard for me then, imagine someone trying to speak out in a time like now? Imagine having an opinion that is filled with truth, data, and conviction and wanting to speak out so badly, because it will create change, make an impact or even help someone, but to do so would mean backlash, verbal attack and potentially physical attacks. So what do you do? How do you find the courage to speak out, to speak up and to use your voice?
Let me tell you!
Make sure your thoughts and opinions are deeply rooted.
What does that mean? If you speak out of reaction or on a whim you lose depth to what you say. It becomes light and weak with no intention for change, because all you are doing is eliciting a response. That is not power, nor skill. When your thoughts are deeply rooted in your beliefs, in data that support your beliefs or a heavy conviction you express those thoughts with purpose and they become powerful and relevant.
Have intention and purpose to your opinions.
The worst kind of opinion is one that does not have purpose nor does it consider the outcome of expressing that opinion. Example: “You never think before you say anything, it’s irritating!” What’s wrong with that statement? First, it is an overgeneralization. Second, it is a reactive opinion with no clear data and third, it is expressed with no concern for the outcome. Meaning, by saying that statement it wasn’t considered that it could depress their thoughts, wound their heart and ultimately shut that person down. Expressed opinions should always have purpose and the intentions should be clear before the opinion is expressed. When you do that you are leading towards an outcome that, hopefully, is for the better in the person or persons you express that opinion towards.
Be confident in WHO YOU ARE!
This is, by far, the most important part of speaking out in a “shut up” culture. Why? Because knowing who you are is the life blood to what you say and how you say it. Knowing who you are is literally the electricity that sparks the purpose in your words and if you know that, then no one can take that from you. No matter how angry a person gets, no matter how much they yell, no matter what hurtful words they say to you it will not change the outcome of your intention, your purpose and your convictions because you know who you are.
I could go on, but these are just a few tips that will give you a bit of courage to speak up. This is not just politics and cultural debates, this is for everyday life as well. You can apply this at work, at home, and even online while egging on those brave keyboard warriors. The main point! Don’t stay silent.