“Hi, I’m ______, and I _________ ….”
The words are scrawled on a blank sheet of paper, alongside a fresh mug of coffee. You’ve set aside the whole afternoon to get your business message in shape and set about filling in the large blanks left on that pristine paper. The whole process starts out so confident! You write quickly as you brainstorm ideas for your website copy or personal pitch.
Yet as time goes by, the pen tip begins scratching out words almost without your permission. You run out of synonyms to swap. Suddenly, the words you’ve written feel far grander than you yourself feel on a daily basis.
Who am I, to put myself out in the world this way? You ask yourself. What am I doing? What am I even trying to say?
Have you ever noticed that when you work on writing for your business, these anxious, frustrated feelings are only a breath or two away? Or that you soon find yourself backing away from certain words or ideas because they feel too “forward?"
“I can’t promise my customers too much.”
“What if I come off looking ‘bigger’ than I really am?”
“If I say this, I’m afraid they’ll think I know more than I do.”
I’ve said these things to myself as I write blog posts, website copy, even my personal bio for a networking event! I’ve heard them frequently from the women entrepreneurs who work with me, too. Each time I offer a word or a term that perfectly fits their vision, I receive the response, “I can’t use that word either.”
“Why not?” I ask.
“Because it’s too big. Too ... bold. I’m not that person.”
Personally, I think we women give ourselves far too little credit.
The truth is, crafting a business message or call to action is not for the faint of heart.
You’re drawing forth your most important giftings and spinning into words to share with a wide world of potential customers. Those customers will expect things from you based on what you promised them in your message. They will make split-second judgments about whether they want to speak with you, or move on to others.
Above all, they will judge if you are competent and likable, sympathetic and smart, all based on the way you frame your words.
Our natural response to all this pressure is to back down and back away. We scrub our copy of anything that sounds too bold or too forward. Or, we hedge our writing with lots of “but this”s and “of course that”s to ensure that no one disagrees with us.
As women, we have been taught socially not to challenge the status quo or draw attention to ourselves.
But that’s exactly what a great message does.
A great message demands that you step up. Show up. And speak up … in a big way.
So how can we beat that feeling of fear and speak out with confidence?
I’ll let you in on a little secret.
Your instinct to back down isn’t a voice of truth or an accurate portrayal of the situation. It’s a voice of criticism, likely part of your self-preservation instinct. Self-preservation doesn’t want you to do the thing that will grow your world and your business—because it feels incredibly risky. And self-preservation doesn’t go well with risk.
But self-preservation doesn’t have to run your life or dictate your words.
Choose the truth over the criticism, and you’ll find the courage you need to push past the fear and put that gutsy message out into the universe.
If your message feels scary to you, it's probably on the right track.
Recently I’ve worked with several women—brilliant, talented and experienced, each in her own way—who came to my message couch with some pretty serious restrictions on how they could present themselves.
The message couldn’t sound too transformational—even though they had story after story of how their work had actually changed lives.
Their photography couldn’t be too prominent on their website—even though their warm smile and winning personality were key attractions for their brand.
Some even felt nervous promising their customers anything at the end of their engagement—even though they had stellar track records of delivering every time.
In every case, these amazing women discovered that their self-preservation instinct and fear were holding them back from sharing their true message. They discovered they were listening to voices from their past: people or groups who had once told them how high they could fly, and how far they could fall. They had upheld restrictions in their business for years, not because they were smart or true parts of the message, but because they felt safe.
When they confronted their fear, they were able to write their boldest words ever.
Not a single one was scratched out.
In fact, in most cases, their message became bigger, broader and braver than it ever had before. (One woman even realized she was aiming not just to solve a particular problem but to start a revolution within her particular audience niche! How’s that for gutsy?)
Where before they worried that every word was over-promising, they now saw they already had the power to deliver on those amazing claims. And they had customer after satisfied customer to prove it.
You can, too.
If you’re staring at words you’ve written about yourself and your business, feeling overwhelming sensations of fear, or worrying that you’re a “poser” who’s over claiming power, I’m here to say with conviction, “You’re not.”
You … are … not.
Step up. Show up. And speak up with confidence.
Your business is your place to shine, and share your light with others. If anything, your most authentic, resonant message is probably much larger than you’re giving it credit for.
That’s the only message that’s worth sharing, anyway.
The next time you’re tempted to back down on your business message, don’t. In fact, take it a step further than you ever have before. But you don’t have to do that alone. I would love to work with you—understanding where your core value lies, figuring out together how to express it in words, getting that message out.
Until next time, speak freely.
What is your biggest fear about speaking louder and being seen in the world? Why do you fear this? Comment below.
Ready to expand your brand and your audience by crafting a more powerful message? Schedule your FREE 1:1 consultation here.