In a time when the world is inundated with advice from politicians, influencers, celebrities and experts, it is becoming a much more difficult feat to have a unique voice that stands out from the crowd, writes Sam Cawthorn, Founder and CEO of the Speakers Institute.
With the emergence of newer technologies and platforms such as Twitter, TikTok and now Clubhouse, anyone can be an expert or have an opinion.
The cluttered digital environment adds another layer of complexity when looking to establish authentic communication with the right audience.
When I first started my career in public speaking over a decade ago, I thought that my ability to command a room was the only skill I required to have an influential ‘voice.’
However, I soon learnt that natural charisma can’t replace character and re-tweetable quotes don’t mean you have a quality message.
So, how do create a unique voice as a leader without being too controversial, ingenuine or just sounding like a copy/paste of someone else?
After coaching people on this subject for many years, here are my best three tips for how you can establish a powerful voice as a leader.
1. Lead from a place of vulnerability and authenticity
It’s no secret that consumers are becoming much more intuitive when it comes to leadership – and they are not afraid of calling someone out when they see that they are not living up to the values they broadcast.
As a leader, the best way you can set yourself apart in a world full of fake-news and airbrushed influencers, is to be real and authentic. Your commitment and sincerity will show others that you are worth following.
So, my advice? Just be yourself! Rather than conceal the flawed and mundane aspects of your life, don’t be afraid to admit when you make mistakes and be authentic with your audience.
Research is showing us that around three quarters of consumers expect CEOs to hold themselves accountable to the public and should be the ones actioning change in society.
So, as a leader today, understand that as you lead with vulnerability and authenticity, it will be contagious, and people will inevitably follow.
2. Lead with your ‘why’
If you’ve ever had a toddler in your household before, you will know what I mean by the ‘Terrible Twos.’ When my son was in his terrible twos, he would continually ask the mind- numbing question, ‘But why, Dad?’ No matter what we told him to do, he would ask why… a hundred times. Thankfully, he grew out of it, but the ‘why’ is an important question that we shouldn’t let fade in our youth.
Every leader wants to be influential, but if that is your only motivator, you’ll struggle to build a personal voice and following. When you have a cause or a ‘why’ that you really believe in, people are more likely to align themselves with you and then be able to share your message to a larger audience.
Determine for yourself what motivates you, what drives you and what persuades people to connect with you – that is your why! When you learn to define and communicate your ‘why’ effectively, this will help you create a unique voice that will have a big impact on your profile and business.
3. Lead with your story
Our world is more data focussed than ever before. And while data is a fantastic and reliable anchor when you’re looking to win people over to your way of thinking, it is not human based; it is about measurement, as opposed to emotions.
Your story, on the other hand, is all about people – their feelings, experiences and emotions. It’s the cornerstone of our emotional decision making when we act according to our instincts.
So, when looking to establish a unique voice as a leader, know that your greatest asset, and what makes you stand out from the crowd, is your story. The greatest way to inspire emotion and influence others to listen, is by leading with this first.
No one else on the planet has your story or your ability to share it. You have something unique to offer to an audience, clients or colleagues. So, use it to become an outstanding story sharer, story shower and storyteller.
Learn to share your story so that it evokes emotions, knowing it will always win out over data when you genuinely care about establishing effective leadership for the long haul.