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One of the most powerful devices we have is our voice. It allows us to be heard in a noisy world. It allows us to speak up when we need to most. It allows us to spread impactful messages. It allows us to converse and connect. It allows us to effect positive change.

As someone who decided to step into my power by way of writing and public speaking—despite the discomfort of putting it all out there for others to see and critique—l have experienced the value in having tools to help me own my power, to own my voice, to own my presence. Here are the 5 tools that I use to help me further step into, and own, my power.

1. Power Pose – The mind and body are connected. As such your posture actually affects how you view yourself. Slouching, crossing your arms, and any other way we shrink into ourselves creates a feeling of powerlessness. This translates into how you present yourself, how you communicate, and thus how you’re perceived by others. So when I read Amy Cuddy’s book, Presence it was an eye opener. And now I either stand in a power pose before speaking (even if it’s just an elevator pitch at a networking event) or picture myself in the pose (think Wonder Woman with hands on hips and feet hip distance apart). Just try it and notice how you feel.

2. Exhale & Relax – When I feel myself getting nervous, uneasy, or stressed I now focus more on my breathing. And I’ve added my own special twist to my exhales. For my breathing, I take in a nice deep breath, pause for a few seconds, and then open my mouth to exhale while saying, relax. That “ahhh” when saying the world relax while exhaling actually feels good. And it serves as a reminder of what the breathing is helping me to do—relax. I find that hearing myself say it, and allowing my mind to connect the exhale with the act of relaxing, is helpful.

3. Excitement – Did you know that your body undergoes the same physiological effects – sweaty palms, racing heart – whether you are experiencing fear or excitement? It’s all about what you tell yourself. So before a big speech, when I feel my heart starting to race and my mind focusing on the fear, I tell myself that I’m excited. And it’s even helpful to say so when you step onto the stage. “Hello everyone. I’m excited to be here today.” It’s a simple trigger that makes a difference.

4. Music – I have found that the right music can really pump me up before stepping outside of my comfort zone. For me, it’s film scores for movies such as Wonder Woman, Gladiator, or Transformers. Anything that’s full of energy and excitement really pumps me up, so I have a music station set up for this and turn it on when I need an extra boost of confidence. I even use it sometimes to kick myself into writing mode (no words to distract me). Find your music and listen to it before you step onto your stage, whether it be for an interview, first date, business meeting, or speech.

5. Pep Talk – This, for me, is the last piece that ties everything together. After seeing myself in my power pose (if I’m unable to do it) while playing my music, breathing deeply and telling myself I’m excited, I also tell myself: I’ve got this. I tell myself that I am confident, that my voice is meant to be heard. When speaking, I remind myself that my message is important. Remind yourself that you’ve got this!

You are more powerful than you may believe yourself to be. And your voice is your weapon, so use it for good. Speak your truth. Set your boundaries. Share your ideas. Whatever you do, practice stepping into your truth more often, and sharpen your amazing weapon—your voice.

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