The first thing that my Best-Friend-Since-The-First-Grade (BFSFG) said to me after Congratulations, when I told her I was getting married, was Are you sure that you want to have a wedding? I told her that my mother would probably never speak to me again if I didn't have one. She replied that it might be a price I should consider paying, considering the last time I was up in front of a large group of people. (This is one of the liabilities of having a life-long friendship. We know all of each other's histories. Let's just say that it was a school assembly and it was one of those things that should only happen in the movies. Suffice to say that I don't do well in front of large groups of people; no matter how friendly the audience.) I followed through with the wedding and, as payback, I made BFSFG my bridesmaid.
Despite this phobia, I've rarely felt unheard. I've always found ways to work around having to be in the center of attention. Quiet kid in new school for first grade? Talk to the girl who is upset because her mom left. First Dance? I asked the wedding party and their significant others to dance with Dr. Man and I. Suggesting curriculum changes? Talk to a faculty member on the committee and work up to a conversation about what I think should be changed (and some of it has-- I'm rather pleased with this). Want to ask the invited speaker a question? Get introduced (by Advisor or Faculty Host) and ask the question by-the-by. I've gotten quite good at figuring out how to be heard without establishing an actual voice. There's a lot of pressure with establishing a "voice." A "voice" has a persona of its own.
My former college roommate once said that she could tell who had called me based on my voice. My mom elicited a calm, enunciated manner of speaking. BFSFG meant that over the course of the conversation a southern twang/drawl would creep into my voice. An unknown caller was met with a quiet, cheerful voice. And if it was a call where I was going to have to ask for something, there'd be lots of deep breaths and direct statements. After she told me this, I paid more attention and realized that I was adapting to each relationship. My mom needed me to be calm, BFSFG and I fell into our old rhythm, politeness is required with strangers, and it's hard to stand up for things that I need. So, my literal voice helped me adapt to those situations. My relationship with Science, though, is still in its early stages. We're on that pivotal third date where we've gotten to know each other a bit and think that this could go somewhere, but we're not yet at that point where we can finish each other's sentences. So, we're still cautious. We take care not to offend and avoid the more controversial subjects.
So, right now I'm content to be heard without having an established voice. That's not to say that I'll never establish a voice within the realm of Science. It just takes me a while to develop a comfortable rhythm with anyone-- let alone an abstract concept.