In 1994, my brother and I started our first garageband. Spillway was our name (don’t ask me why).
We would set up in my parents’ basement and thrash about, banging the drums and crunching chords on the guitar, essentially knocking off of the popular grunge sound of the time.
Our first song was an “approximation” of a Stone Temple Pilots tune. Our next was a loose rip off of Rage Against the Machine.
Without a doubt, we sounded like hundreds of other garagebands playing in their parents’ basements, all of us borrowing liberally from the popular rock bands on the radio. But we had to start somewhere. This is the creative process of discovering one’s creative voice.
Much like writing songs, creating content and sharing your ideas online is an expression of your unique voice.
To find your own style, your own voice, you often start by mimicking the voice of others. You experiment. You put in your reps. Bit by bit you uncover the elements that make up the fullest expression of who you are, the things that set you apart from others who do or say similar things.
“It’s not about being perfect. It’s not about where you get yourself in the end. There’s power in allowing yourself to be known and heard, in owning your unique story, in using your authentic voice.” — Michelle Obama
Your unique voice is one of your most valuable tools when it comes to creating a strong position in the marketplace so that you stand out in the noise.
Your voice is found in the stories you tell, values you stand for, opinions you share… it’s an authentic expression of who you are and how you think.
I write only because / There is a voice within me / That will not be still. – Sylvia Plath
While it may seem like uncovering your voice should be self-evident, there are a number of forces that continuously conspire to bury it from even our own awareness.
Thankfully, there exist a number of useful tools and techniques that can help you uncover your unique voice so that you can create a strong brand position that stands out in your industry. Here are four worth trying.
1) Louder Than Words by Todd Henry
This is one of the best tools I’ve found for uncovering your unique voice. In this book, Todd shares a series of questions for uncovering your “notables.” These are points of view that, by sharing them, you uncover parts of your voice.
Below is a list of sample questions I’ve borrowed and adapted from Louder Than Words that you can use to uncover a new part of your voice.
- When are you moved emotionally?
- What stirs you to anger (especially compassionate anger)?
- What kinds of problems or ideas do you think about incessantly?
- What are you curious about right now?
- What is something you believe that runs counter to popular opinion or conventional wisdom?
- Choose a question, answer it, then create a piece of content that expresses your answer.
2) Read Your Content Out Loud
When you write an email, blog post, or even social media update, read it out loud before publishing. Does it sound like you? If not, edit it until it does. Ditch the rules school and business have drilled into you about writing. If you want your content to resonate, write like you speak.
3) The Magnetic Messaging Framework
I created this five-part framework (PDF) to help my clients connect with the core of what drives their work so they can communicate it to their audience. By going through the exercises in the guide, you’ll identify the things that will make your message irresistible to those you want to serve most. I also talk about this framework in episode one of my new podcast.
4) Share Anecdotes from Your Life
I started this email with a story of my first garageband. Sharing stories (or even short anecdotes) like this is an easy and powerful way to infuse your unique voice into your content.
Making your mark in the world requires honing your unique voice. It’s an ongoing process. The techniques above will help you identify and share the best and most interesting parts of who you are so that your ideas will resonate with your audience, earn their trust, and inspire them to take action.