I’m guessing you’re here because you are ready to finally commit to taking your speaking up a level, or three.
Maybe you’ve already been sharing your message some. Speaking at local venues or through online webinars, summits or other events. Possibly you have even spoken at larger conferences once or twice. But you know that you are meant to take a bolder stand – to reach more people with your message.
You might feel nervous about making this bigger step with your speaking, even while you are excited about these possibilities – I like to call this “nervcited”
Wherever you are on your speaking journey and whatever mix of emotions you carry, you are in exactly the right place. This is the perfect time to take your speaking to the next level and I’d love to help in any way I can.
Here is what I know for sure: speaking is a powerful way to make a meaningful difference for a lot of people all at once.
I’m a speaking and story coach for people who want to light up the world and make a big impact with their ideas and stories. There is nothing I love more than helping smart, committed, heart-centered people build thriving businesses and change a lot of lives through high-impact speaking. That’s what compelled me to be a speaking coach.
But here’s the irony – and this might be a little surprising at first… what I do (and especially why I do it) isn’t really about “public speaking” – not at the heart of it.
I never meant to become a speaking coach. I only wanted to help people live really good lives in any way I could. (This hasn’t changed.)
In fact, I had every intention of becoming a psychologist. Everyone who knew me expected that. I have always loved listening to the struggles of those around me, exploring solutions and otherwise providing a safe place to share secrets and fears.
I don’t love the spotlight
Quite unexpectedly, I started speaking in high school as an advocate for Mothers Against Drunk Drivers (MADD). I grew up surrounded by a lot of people whose lives were ruined by alcohol addiction, including drunk driving. I wanted to do whatever I could to convince my high school classmates not to drink and drive.
In college I learned of the growing AIDS epidemic. I was also poignantly aware (and experiencing) the exciting sexual exploration that college brought. I knew we all needed a direct and impactful education on how to keep ourselves safe. So, I traded in those gory car crash scenes from MADD for a banana and a binder full of the many textures and flavors of condoms as a Peer Educator. I began teaching my fellow classmates how to protect themselves from the HIV virus.
In my high school and college speaking, I had no desire nor intention to be the center of attention – I was full of speaking anxiety too! – but I was passionate about sharing the message. And it was worth being in the spotlight to get that message to the right people.
Playing It safe
During and after college, I tried out jobs in many industries: retail management, insurance claims, banking, high tech. I always took jobs that were “good” jobs but that didn’t challenge me. And they definitely didn’t ask for my ideas or demand I share my voice. Quite the contrary.
Meanwhile, my bosses were saying to me in performance reviews, “Michelle – it’s clear you are made for business. The sky’s the limit with you. Tell me how I can support you in moving into any job you want. “
“No thanks,” I’d say. “I like it the way it is. I leave my work at work and I get to enjoy my personal life without worrying about it.”
The problem is, that same passion that put me in front of high school and college classrooms – in spite of my speaking anxiety – still burned in my belly.
Outside of work I was a volunteer community mediator and trainer for Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) because I felt compelled to help communities in conflict and children share their voices in ways that made their lives better.
I was willing to give my time and energy to these important causes because I believed they mattered – they were worth being in the spotlight for. I just couldn’t get myself to feel passionate about the work I was doing for pay.
A temporary motherhood reprieve
During this window of time I started and completed a graduate degree in Speech Communication and began teaching college communication classes. This turned out to be a fabulous combination of work that mattered to me and gave me a paycheck. Combining the two had become very important as my time suddenly became very scarce during these years. As I had always dreamed, I was now a proud new Mama – to three girls within three years.
I decided I would be a stay-at-home Mama for a while. And it was absolutely lovely! I made homemade baby food, used cloth diapers and carried my babies in (multiple) slings everywhere. I loved it!
Until that fire in my belly began to rise again…
It started slow, but I knew it was there – that fire. I also knew by this point in my life not to fight it – it had always guided me to the work that mattered (beyond mothering, which for me has a priority all its own).
So, after a couple of conversations with my husband, I decided to start a part-time communication consulting business.
When I “hung my shingle” in 2008, I had no idea what I was doing.
I created a (very old school) tri-fold flyer and sent it out with a letter to everyone I knew, announcing my new communication consultancy.
To my shock and dismay-delight, our previous realtor called me the next day to hire me. Then she referred me to her colleague. I had a business!
Turns out, though, I quickly began building a business I didn’t really want. I was copy writing for others and spent most of my time trying to figure out why this didn’t feel as amazing as I imagined it would.
Becoming a certified coach & recognizing fear
This is when I learned about coaching – and when I became a Certified Whole Person Coach through Baraka Institute (now Coach Training World) – and everything began to change. Slowly, but irrevocably.
I learned all about fear and all the ways it stops us from expressing ourselves. I learned so many tools for moving through fear and stepping boldly into the life we want. I began to write more, speak more. And clients started to come naturally as I learned to share my stories and my expertise.
Natural business growth (& hiding)
My business grew and I began working with more and more brilliant people who had stories to share and messages that were intended to change lives. This was so exciting.
Because of my life experiences (we have many food allergies in my family) and coaching and business relationships, I began attracting coaches, doctors and holistic health experts, executives and thought leaders in a huge range of industries. They were speaking at highly respected industry conferences, large company events, for their teams and at intimate local venues as well. I was loving every minute of it – when I wasn’t hiding behind my computer and avoiding sharing my own ideas (which had quickly snuck back in to the forefront).
It’s true – my clients were ahead of me by a few years in courage and determination to serve with their message. They just were.
The truth was, while I was spending my days passionately telling clients their messages matter and their stories need to be heard, I was quietly hiding myself. I hadn’t shared my stories or my deepest message with any real conviction and courage for a very long time.
Turns out I had a few more dark nights of the soul to venture through on the way to sharing my own voice with true conviction. Many years of deeply held beliefs about my own voice and value were blocking my own expression. But my clients were my inspiration – and I was starting to feel like a fraud, frankly, for constantly telling them they needed to share their message boldly while I was hiding my own.
The decision that changed my life
One day in 2014, I decided I was finished hiding. Completely. I wasn’t going to do it anymore. It went against everything I believed in. And I was tired of feeling ashamed on the inside of my own hiding while boldly telling my clients to be courageous on the outside. That was totally out of integrity for me.
I did a lot of things to act on that commitment – clear and focused action is the only way through that final phase of fear.
I made sharing my ideas a regular practice in a variety of places. I began standing up for what I believed in – at home, in my community and beyond.
I also spent time every morning on mindset, beliefs and connecting with my ideas and how I would use them to serve others.
I still recommit to this promise and practice every single day. Releasing fear and committing to showing up fully, without apology or excuses, is a practice, not a finish line.
Thanks to all of this work (and this crazy ride!), I get invited to speak at very cool events and for awesome companies. I am consulted as an expert by other coaches, trainers and executives. I get to coach driven, passionate, heart-centered experts in a huge range of industries such as executive and life coaching, business coaching, architecture, pharmaceuticals, holistic health and wellness as well as insurance and financial services – many more.
Oh, surely you have heard enough about me (gosh that was long)! I want to know all about you.
Before I completely close my story, I will say this:
It feels amazing to watch my clients change lives as they share their message. Their sense of meaning and satisfaction is so awesome – and watching their careers and businesses grow so naturally as a result of their high-impact speaking fills my heart. I just love it.
If you feel a call to make this kind of impact through your own speaking, I’d love to help!
We can spend some time talking about what you want to do and discuss how I might be able to help. I promise, if I’m not the right person, I’ll do my very best to help you find whatever resources I can for you! I truly am committed to your best outcome, whether it’s working with me or something else.