What does it mean to find your voice? It’s a concept I use frequently with clients and friends. Many of them want to sound more authentic and genuine when they speak, but they don’t quite know how.

Watch the video above – filmed outside the United States Capitol in Washington, DC – and read below for the steps you can take to find your own voice.

1. Look inward. 

The process of finding your voice starts by looking inward to determine your core values.

What’s important to you? What do you believe in and how does it drive your actions every single day? Identify and validate your core values; perhaps you live the value of selflessness by putting others before yourself. Perhaps you live the value of integrity by always modeling the behavior you want to see from others. Connect with what truly drives you and it will embolden you to speak up.

2. Look outward. 

After you’ve looked inward at your values, look outward at the world around you.

Where are those values being challenged? Where does your voice need to be heard? Maybe there’s an issue at work that’s threatening to destroy the workplace culture; perhaps there’s an injustice in your community that no one else will confront. It’s easy to get overwhelmed; which issue calls to you personally or professionally? Choose one and study if from as many angles as you can. The more you learn about an issue, the more confident you will feel speaking up.

3. Build your communication skills. 

What do you need to learn to become the speaker you have always wanted to be?

People hold themselves back from speaking up for many reasons: one reason is they believe they aren’t good enough at public speaking. But public speaking is a skill, not a talent. Choose 1-2 areas where you’d like to improve; perhaps it’s learning how to craft an impactful message or how your voice can project strength and warmth. Work with a coach, attend a seminar, or join Toastmasters. Practice these skills in every interaction, from a 1:1 conversation to a group presentation. The more you build your skills, the more you build your confidence.

4. Look for opportunities to speak and build allies. 

Look for places where you can speak up and give others a chance to speak.

You’ve determined the issue you’re passionate about and have started to build your communication skills. Now, it’s time to test out those ideas. Start by holding conversations with friends and family, then look to your organization or community (depending on the issue). Remember that this isn’t about pushing your ideas; it’s about creating a dialogue around an issue and finding allies so that you don’t have to speak alone. Who else can you empower to speak up? What shared values can you tap into that everyone can relate to?

5. Take action on your ideas. 

Finally, it’s time to take action on your ideas.

What steps are you committed to taking to make your idea a reality? What steps can your audience take? The more focused you are on action, the more you can create a groundswell for change. Your voice becomes a catalyst for action, and you become a role model for others.

At Global Public Speaking, we believe that every person has a voice; every person has something to say. Our mission is to help people find their voice, build their communication skills. and find their confidence to speak up on behalf of what they believe in.

Finding your voice is about self-actualization: determining what’s important to you, what change you want to see in the world, and what you are going to do about it.