Soften the inner voice

My speech at a Speakathon event.

Bond Wang
3 min readDec 12, 2023
Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

“Hi. You can do better. You can do more.”

Have you heard this inner voice in your head? I hear it all the time. Since I started to practice public speaking, I find the more I speak, the louder the voice grows. And oftentimes, the more confused I feel, too, about my skills. On the one hand, I know I’m getting better. But on the other hand, my standard is rising too. As a result, the gap between where I am and where I want to be never really got smaller.

It was this inner voice that led me to this journey. One day it told me, “You can do better to fight the fear of public speaking.” So I joined Toastmasters. I even saw an echoing effect between the inner and outer voices in the early days. My speech evaluators often told me, “Come on, Bond. You can do better.” It right-clicked to my inner voice. I truly enjoyed the baby steps I was making. Soon the district leadership noticed my enthusiasm and encouraged me to take a challenge — serving as the Area Director. I took the challenge. It was a year of immense growth.

After the term, the inner voice crept to my ears and said it again, “You can do better. You can do more.” So, I aimed higher and applied for the Division Director position. I got it. I had the chance to work with a group of seasoned Toastmasters, past international directors, and talented speakers. I had another year of fast growth.

No surprise, as I approached the end of the term, the inner voice came up again. “You can do better. You can do more.” But this time, I hear another inner voice in my head, too, “Hi, don’t forget why you are here. Don’t forget the basic skills.” It must have seen me spend too much time on the district meetings and reporting. Practicing my speeches and polishing the speech scripts were put aside. In the meantime, as I aimed higher, the lack of basic skills started to take a toll on my leadership activities. When I tried to get my messages across, motivate my team, or even tried to tell a story, I found myself running out of the gunpowder. More importantly, the voice of “You can do better.” had shifted from being a motivator to a source of stress. So I decided it was time for a change. I stopped climbing the ladder, and went back to my clubs. I attended more club meetings, grabbed every opportunity to give a speech, and embraced the supportive roles, Ah-counter, Grammarian, Timer, etc. Taking the club officer roles like VPPR, and diving into the basic tools of digital marketing to promote my clubs. These might seem like basic works, but they were giant leaps in reclaiming the joy of progress.

This new voice, “Don’t forget the basics’, grew louder and louder in my head. It started to soften the other inner voice of “You can do better.” What was softened too was the stress of obsessing over some level of achievement. Achievements are more of a status indicator than the skills that I truly master. Since I focused on what I can do instead of what I have done, the inner voice of “You can do better” slowly quieted to a corner in my head.

Today as I look back, this journey from Area Director to Division Director and then back down to the basics has proven to be the right path of my growth. There is no straight line up in growth. Sometimes a backdown is an important step to help us achieve higher.

As former U.S. First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt since said, “Do one thing every day that scares you.” For me, achievement does not scare me, public speaking does. For me, growth is not just about climbing higher in the organization; honing the basic skills is.

Are you hearing this inner voice in your head, “Hi. You can do better. You can do more.”? Does this voice grow louder and louder that it sometimes feels creepy and overwhelming? Then maybe it’s time to soften the voice and enjoy whatever you are doing at this moment. Whatever it is, however small it is, like you are hanging a little Christmas bauble on the Christmas tree, just enjoy the moment.

Happy Holidays!



Bond Wang

Forget injuries, never forget kindness. Hey, I write about life, culture, and daydreams. Hope I open a window for you, as well as for myself.