When Your Inner Voice Grabs the Mic

As leaders self-talk is important. We must listen to our inner voice. But what if our inner voice gets scared and wants to grab the mic?

What if our inner voice wants too much affirmation?

What if our inner voice needs excessive feedback?

Can an extraverted inner voice get in the way?

Loud Inner Voices

  • Why do some people tell us to stop listening to them before they even start talking?
  • Why do we add last-minute self-deprecating remarks into our carefully rehearsed speeches?
  • How do we get people to listen to what we most need them to hear?
  • How do we sound humble, but confident?

It happens in interviews, presentations, sales calls, athletic events, cattle drives... People pre-apologize for what they are about to say. They tell us not to listen.

  • “In my feeble little mind”
  • “I’m certainly not the expert here”
  • “I’m just saying, well it’s kind of like this sort-of”
  • “…?”

Why Do We Undermine our own credibility at the very time we need it most?

Perhaps we’re…

  • Nervous
  • Under pressure
  • Unsure of ourselves
  • Unrehearsed
  • Trying to appear humble?
  • Trying to be funny?
  • Unaware of the impact?
  • ?

Tips For Shaking the “Don’t Listen to Me” Habit

  • Become an expert about your subject (feeling truly confident is your best safeguard)
  • Plan out your message (write it down)
  • Look for opportunities to speak (lots of practice will build confidence)
  • Ask for feedback (not from everyone, that also can sound insecure)
  • Ask others how they perceived what you said (what direct and indirect messages did they receive)
  • Record or video tape your talk (most cell phones have audio recording these days)
  • Focus on the behaviors you can use to drive respect (plan your desired behaviors)
  • Take a public speaking class (tell your instructor your specific objectives)
  • Hire a coach (they can help you practice or help you discover the root cause)
Posted in Authenticity & Transparency and tagged , , .

Karin Hurt

Karin Hurt, Founder of Let’s Grow Leaders, helps leaders around the world achieve breakthrough results, without losing their soul. A former Verizon Wireless executive, she has over two decades of experience in sales, customer service, and HR. She was named on Inc's list of 100 Great Leadership Speakers and American Management Association's 50 Leaders to Watch. She’s the author of several books: Courageous Cultures: How to Build Teams of Micro-Innovators, Problem Solvers, and Customer Advocates (Harper Collins Summer 2020), Winning Well: A Manager's Guide to Getting Results-Without Losing Your Soul, Overcoming an Imperfect Boss, and Glowstone Peak.


  1. Just prior to your post in my RSS reader was this post by Jon Acuff.

    http://www.jonacuff.com/blog/do-the-words-you-say-matter/ Thought you might find it interesting.

    I video record every presentation. It’s in my speaking agreement actually It’s really helped me cut filler words like “um” out of my public speaking. I really like all of your tips in this post.

    I think another reason people undermine their credibility is the fear of being wrong or hearing an opposing view point. They don’t want to look foolish. I hate the saying, “It’s better to keep your mouth shut and appear stupid then to open it and remove all doubt.” I saw this posted in a classroom once at a school I was presenting in. Well, i opened my mouth about the sign….what a terrible message to give kids. This doesn’t serve anyone well. I’d rather my team open their mouths and share. It’s up to me to ensure they don’t feel or appear stupid by how I react. Of course, we also laugh at the saying…”there’s no such thing as stupid ideas.”….no…there are….but that doesn’t make the person stupid. A leader has to create a culture that gives their team freedom to share. Getting rid of gossip is key to this.

  2. Eric, Thanks so much for sharing that link… I love it when the Let’s Grow Leaders community shares additional resources with one another. I am always surprised by something I see on my video tapes… It’s a fantastic tool.

    I am really surprised to hear that they had that sign in a classroom. After you “opened your mouth” did they take it down?

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