Your voice gets right at the heart of YOU and is much more than the sound out of your mouth.

It’s made up of the vocabulary and tone you use to communicate in an outward manner to others – in person, over the phone, through text, email, or posting to your social media accounts. Your voice is a fundamental element of your personal brand. At the core, it’s an expression of your purpose (why you exist), values (your principles/standards), vision (what future you want to create), and mission (what you’re here to do). Knowing what you stand for and speaking up for matters that are important to you is crucial for your health, well-being, and success.

To understand you, people need to hear you.

If you’re struggling to speak up or define your voice, here are five ways to get your voice on paper first:

1. Outline your purpose.

Simon Sinek, the author of “Find Your Why,” has a simple sentence structure to help guide and shape your purpose statement. He recommends expressing your WHY statement in two main components. The first element, “To ____,” is the contribution you make. The second element, “so that____,” is the impact or effect the contribution has on others. For example, my overall purpose is “To help and empower others, so that they can activate their best.”

2. Write down your values.

What’s important to you? What are your standards and principles you live by? When you express your ideas in a meaningful way, you can clearly convey what you believe in and can inspire those around you. Your values can be your strengths, aka superpowers, and guide you on what to do and how to act. Write out 3-5 keywords to describe your essence. For example, I pride myself on being kind, reliable, and trustworthy.

3. Document your vision.

Your vision serves as your “north star” and is a future-oriented statement about what you want to achieve. For example, Richard Branson, Founder of The Virgin Group, states his vision as: “To have fun in my journey through life and learn from my mistakes.”

4. Declare your mission.

Your mission is an action-oriented assertion of what you’re looking to achieve in the short-term to get closer to your vision. Your mission provides a path for success. For example, the company TED outlines its mission as “to spread ideas,” which is a simple and eloquent articulation of how they serve. From a personal perspective, your vision and mission can evolve depending on your life and work focus.

5. Ask yourself critical questions.

Are you refraining from talking about matters that are important to you? Assess different settings and ask yourself, “Did I hold back saying what I wanted to?” and “Could I have spoken up more?”

Finding your voice enables you to think about your life in a holistic manner and helps you articulate and embody your aspirations. By detailing your purpose, values, vision, and mission, they become a part of you and serve as your moral compass when you need it most. Harness your uniqueness and experiment with expressing yourself in different ways. Make a conscious effort to be authentic, confident, rational, and empathetic when communicating with others.

What’s Next

Once you’ve identified your distinctive voice, you can begin to frame your message in a succinct manner to articulate it to others in various settings. Read more and watch this quick tutorial on the message triangle tool, which is based on the principle that it is easier to visualize an image than it is to memorize a lot of words.