You’re in a meeting surrounded by confident, talented (or simply loud and opinionated) people who have no trouble saying what they think. You keep opening your mouth, but someone else gets there first. Or perhaps your mind goes blank leaving you with nothing to say. If you struggle to speak up in meetings here are our top tips for getting heard.
Plan topics ahead of the meeting
Before you even get to the meeting spend some time thinking about a topic you can raise. Ask colleagues what they would like you to cover on their behalf. And ensure you know what you need to get out of the meeting.
Know that your ideas are valid
Remind yourself that your ideas are as valid as anyone else’s. You have every right to be there, and every right to contribute.
The earlier on in the meeting you speak, the easier you will find it to break into the discussion. Aim to speak in the first ten minutes, even if it is just to ask questions or support others.
Ask questions, support others contributions
Learn some simple phrases which expand on and support contributions of others. If you are struggling to make that first comment, having some stock phrases up your sleeve will help you break into the discussion. For example:
“I think you raise an important point.”
“Is anyone else that thinks we need to look into this in more depth?”
Don’t think too hard
You could end up talking yourself out of making a point, and regretting it later. Practice saying the first thing that comes into your head once in every meeting. As you begin to realise you are unlikely to say something really stupid, your ability to jump into the conversation will improve.
Accept there’s creative power in disagreement
Disagreement and even confrontation in the workplace is something many of us try to avoid. Unfortunately the fear of disagreement can prevent us from making valid contributions. Disagreement is inevitable, and once we come to accept it, we can see that it can unleash enormous creative power that can help us solve complex problems.
Socialise your ideas in advance
If you need to get agreement or buy-in to an idea, socialise it before the meeting to ensure you have some advocates in the room who will provide you with some public support.
How about you? What helped you overcome your fear of speaking up in meetings? Let us know in the comments.