I love public speaking and feel confident about my ability.
It is this love and comfort with public speaking that made me identify as an extrovert. I accepted and embraced a stereotypical version of an extrovert: the loud, space-taking speaker who enjoys the limelight. I accepted this narrow definition of an extrovert through college and successfully completed all my public speaking duties. It wasn't until I was out of school and in the workplace that I realized that I didn't seek the limelight. Yes, I'd always been passionate about communication and public speaking, but it was never about the spotlight. It was about a more profound experience and understanding.
I knew from a young age that my voice mattered and was important. You see. I am a first-generation student and professional and the eldest daughter of Mexican immigrant farm worker parents. As the eldest, I played an essential role in my family. Like many immigrant children do, I was a translator to and for my family. I translated important documents on one end, and I translated culture, norms, and expectations on the other end.
At a young age, I quickly learned that translating was more than just translating an English word into a Spanish one. I needed to understand the meaning and intent of the word to identify the proper Spanish word. Unfortunately, as a bilingual student who was encouraged to assimilate into American culture, my Spanish speaking ability was limited. So, when I did not know the proper Spanish word, I used stories to explain the meaning and intent of a word to my parents. And that's how my storytelling ability developed, and my communication skills expanded.
I also learned to be precise with my communication and translation responsibility since I've communicated with people in power and authority since elementary school and have continued since. This life long communication journey has allowed me to enjoy communicating with people in private conversations and public engagements. It is this enjoyment that I want others to experience.
I often hear the fear and pain in the voice of people afraid of speaking in public. I hear the uncertainty in their voice and words and the pain of being forced to speak up. I see the differences between introverts and extroverts, between men and women, and first-generation professionals and everyone else. I want these groups of people to know their voice and words matter too.
But, to find our voice, we must revisit the past, our childhood. We must go back to acknowledge that our communication skills were formed in childhood and understand its impact on our present life. In doing so, we can identify what we learned about yourselves, our voice, and our power. We can evaluate the messages we received about ourselves as children or young adults, release the messages that don't serve us and carry forward the ones that empower us and make us feel strong and confident.
It is this connection to the past why I choose to work with first-generation professionals, introverts, women, and women of color. I identify and understand their intersectional experiences. And unfortunately, the public speaking field has not acknowledged the deep work the people have to do to resolve their past experiences to become confident and authentic public speakers today.