So you have this great idea which you want to put forth in the meeting. You try to formulate the sentences, you breathe hard, you gather all your courage to speak up and alas! You just could not talk in front of those 20 staring eyes! You stayed quiet. Another colleague comes up with the same idea and receives an applause. And you just sit and curse yourself for not speaking up.
Seems to be your situation? Here are few tips on how to speak up during meetings at work and get noticed –
Start Small – Ask Questions
This is the easiest way to start speaking up in meetings. Ask simple questions – “Do you think this approach will work?” or “What about the budget perspective?” or “How did you come up with that idea?”
Asking questions will help boost your confidence and also your participation will be noticed in the meetings.
Believe in your Ideas
Keep on reminding yourself that your ideas are brilliant and your view point is no less valid than your colleagues’. Believe that your ideas are worth sharing. Do a small self talk and visualization before the meeting. Visualize yourself smiling, asking relevant questions, bringing up valid points during the meeting. This will reduce your anxiety and help you be calm before you enter the meeting room.
Prepare and Practice
If you are aware of the meeting agenda beforehand, then prepare and practice for the meeting. Write down what you would like to say in the meeting. Read it aloud in front of a mirror.
Another way is to practice at places outside meetings. Try and speak often during informal gatherings – with friends on outings or with colleagues on the lunch table. Participate in conversations and share your point of view wherever possible.
You can also practice by joining a Toastmasters Club. This is a great venture and with the over growing Toastmasters Clubs, you should definitely get one near you.
When making your point during meetings, be very specific and concise. Try conveying your views as succinctly as possible.
If you have more than 2 observations on a particular issue, then start the conversation with “I have 4 comments on this proposal, first being…..”and then list down each of your comments. This will ensure that you are not interrupted in between till you finish all your points.
Pay Attention to your Body Language
Your body language while speaking creates a big impact on how the audience perceives you and your ideas. You need to convey your attentiveness and confidence through your body language. Make sure you are sitting up and forward. Do not hunch over. Make eye contact with everyone while speaking. Smile and be comfortable.
Learn from Others
You always admired a co-worker and his/her oration skills? Observe them and see what they are doing the best. Learn from them. See how they conduct themselves in front of the audience, observe their voice modulations and assimilate their body language. Try and inculcate their best speaking habits.
So next time when you enter that meeting room, leave that shy you outside the room and participate whole heartedly in the meeting. Speak up and let the world know your ideas!