When you step into a meeting, how effectively you communicate largely dictates the direction of that meeting. Yes, you have the power to do that!
However, for many people, the thought of speaking up in a meeting can be crippling. If you are one of those people, you aren’t alone. Not knowing how your message is going to be perceived or received can be nerve-racking.
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The good news is there are a few strategies you can use to help ease your speaking nerves. By preparing yourself to speak up, you will not only overcome your uneasiness but will also gain the recognition you deserve.
Remember: recognition is important to get future big opportunities and promotions!
Preparing For The Meeting
If speaking up during a meeting does not come naturally to you, you will want to make sure that you prepare yourself ahead of time. The more you prepare the more confidence you will have walking into the meeting. Just like any professional athlete, preparation and training are all part of the job.
1. Mentally Prepare
The first thing you want to consider is mentally preparing yourself to speak up. This includes getting rid of the negative mental chatter that you need to be validated once you express your idea. Sometimes your idea may be met with crickets, and that is ok! It’s not a reflection on you or your abilities.
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Again, it’s okay if there is a moment of silence after you speak up in a team meeting.
In fact, during video meetings, where there are a lot of people on a video call, there may be silence after you speak up. That’s because others may be afraid to talk over each other.
Another way to mentally prepare for speaking up during a meeting is to challenge yourself to actually do it. For example, tell yourself that you must speak up at least once during the meeting. If you walk into a meeting having mentally prepared that you will speak up at least once you are more likely to do it.
Tip: Speaking up early on during the meeting will be easier than if you wait. If you wait too long you may convince yourself not to do it at all!
You may also want to consider creating bullet points for what you intend to say during the meeting.
2. Figure Our Your Value-Add
When preparing for a meeting, you will want to know what your value add is. In other words, what role will you play in this meeting?
You can figure out your value-add by identifying what is one thing or one insight or perspective you know that other people in the meeting may not know.
Your value-add is what you can share during the meeting when you speak up.
3. Pose A Question
One great way to speak up during a meeting but in a less direct way is to pose your thought as a question.
For example, if you are in a meeting and you sense that the conversation is going in one direction, but you don’t necessarily agree with that direction – you can speak up and pose your thought as a question. You can say “I know we are discussing plan A, but here are a few of my concerns and maybe we can consider plan B. What do you all think?”
By posing it as a question you are being less forceful and less direct, but you are still expressing your idea and opinion.
Figuring out your talking points, your value-add, and posing your thoughts as a question are all great ways that you can effectively speak up during a meeting.
In the end, speaking up during a meeting is really important for you to get the recognition you deserve. The truth is, by not speaking up at all, you are also speaking volumes about yourself. Perception is reality!
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