I am a voice and presentation coach. I help people connect and communicate confidently.
A big part of that process is to help people understand their story and show them how they can use it to connect and engage an audience.
So, what’s my story?
I had a pretty happy, uneventful childhood growing up on an estate in North London.
Mum was a housewife; dad was a stuntman.
Ok, so maybe not that uneventful, but his job did mean he was away from home a lot.
After school, I trained in fashion, became a designer. I hated it and so moved into theatre (initially working with costume) and loved it. I’d found my tribe, my passion and so decided to train as an actor.
Aged 25 I had an ectopic pregnancy, followed by a further four miscarriages finally having my daughter after thirteen years of trying.
During that period, at only 28, I had breast cancer and went through chemo and radiotherapy.
At 53 I was widowed; my daughter was 14.
Some pretty traumatic stuff there, I know, but I have no regrets. I would never have chosen for these things to have happened, but the experiences have made me the person I am today. Grounded, empathetic, compassionate, resilient and grateful.
I am – we all are – a product of our life experiences, good and bad. Our stories are who we are. They are what makes us, us.
But, we are all so busy trying to be who we think we should be that we forget to look back at what shaped us. Your past doesn’t have to define your future, but it does inform it.
I am only now beginning to share my story with others, and it feels right to do so. After all, it gives me my voice, my authenticity, my Unique Selling Point.
Through the process of talking to others about my own experiences I am beginning to understand why I am the person I am and why I do what I do.
It’s the same for us all. Our past history and experiences are our USP.
There may be millions of website designers, copy writers and accountants, but there is only one with your story, your experiences.
‘So, what?’ you say. ‘How can my story help my business?’
It’s not about self- indulgence or soliciting sympathy. It’s about
exploring your past and recognising the experiences you’ve learnt from. Understanding why you are you can help build meaningful connections with others.
- Sharing your story is powerful. It shows a vulnerability and vulnerability takes courage.
There is a quote by Nietzsche that says, ‘That which does not kill us, makes us stronger.’
Sounds a little harsh but basically means that those difficult experiences, the ones that nearly tip you over the edge, are lessons that will make you stronger but, also, kinder, tolerant, empathetic, compassionate.
- Your story gives you an authenticity that will inspire trust in others.
And by exploring your story, you may discover what’s holding you back, any blocks that may be hindering your progress and stopping you from taking action.
Then you can discard baggage and understand bad behaviours.
- ·Grounding yourself in your story will give you an inner confidence because you will be able to speak with honesty and truthfulness.
The biggest lesson I took from my acting training was that if you don’t believe what you are saying then your audience won’t believe what you’re saying either.
- · Sharing your story can be a great motivational tool.
Oprah Winfrey says that all people want is validation. Your audience might hear something in your story which validates theirs. They want to be heard. Valued.
Sharing and empathising enables you to open up and LISTEN to others.
Your story says, ‘if I can do it so can you.’ You can inspire others.
- · Find the positives in your journey. Positivity creates excitement, and a ‘can do’ attitude.
And so, using your story will make you engage and inspire others and help you to build a following, a community of fans. People that understand and trust you and therefore understand and trust your brand.
TO DO list…
1. Find time to play. Whatever that might be for you. Give yourself head space. Laugh, have fun. Give yourself permission to step off the treadmill. Inspiration and creativity strike when you spend time with what you love.
2. Be sure that what you are doing is in the truth of who you are and what you believe. Remember, if you don’t believe what you are saying nor will your audience.
3. Stay resilient by looking inward. We look externally for the answer to our fears, to the news or social media etc. This only exacerbates our fears rather than solving them.
4. Improvise – There is no script. We improvise every day. We speak out loud never knowing the response.
5. Be positive. Say ‘Yes and…’ rather than ‘no, but… See what happens.