In just a few days I’m going live on LinkedIn for an Open Q&A on Personal Branding. I’d LOVE to see you there!
In the meantime, let’s talk about another communication skills topic that comes up frequently:
Have you ever been told you need to speak up in meetings? Perhaps recently, or perhaps (like me) this was decades ago?
I have vivid memories of being in meetings as a young brand manager, knowing that I needed to say something, but feeling completely paralyzed. Ugh.
It could be a fear of saying the wrong thing, or a fear of having your boss disagree with you, or more generally, a fear of others thinking that you don’t actually belong in the room. (Hello, impostor syndrome!)
Personally, my fear was stating an opinion that my boss didn’t share. What about you?
I am living proof that it’s possible to overcome this fear. This week, I’m really excited to revisit another of the Top 10 most downloaded Talk About Talk episodes, and share tips to help you speak up with confidence. Let’s do this!
3 things to Talk About this week:
1. What counts as speaking up?
2. Tips for Leaders
3. Change the way you listen
1️⃣ What counts as speaking up?
There are very good reasons why speaking up in meetings is something we should all challenge ourselves to do. Here’s why it’s so important: ⬇️
But speaking up doesn’t mean you need to share an opinion on everything, or come up with a brilliant idea on the spot. Remember, a meeting is an exchange of ideas, and there’s more than one way to contribute.
The next time you’re not sure what to say, try one of these strategies:
1. Ask a Question: Whether you’re asking for clarification on something or asking a colleague to elaborate on their perspective, this is a great way to propel the discussion forward. And as an added bonus, it demonstrates to your colleagues (and your boss) that you are focused and listening.
- TIP: It’s OK to qualify the question (“I have a question…”), but do not ask for permission (“Can I ask a question?“) or apologize (“I’m sorry, but can I ask a question?“)!
2. Build on Other’s Ideas: Don’t have a breakthrough idea to share? No problem! Use your colleagues’ contributions as a foundation on which to build.
- TIP: We’ve all heard that “flattery will get you everywhere.” Recent research highlights the benefits of complimenting others. When flattery is genuine, it can go a long way. Try this, “Building on Brandy’s innovative idea,…”
3. Speak to Your Expertise: This is your opportunity to reinforce your Personal Brand and demonstrate how you add value to the meeting. It’s also a surefire way to come across as authentic and genuine.
- TIP: Focus on your unique perspective and expertise. Then start your comment with: “Based on my experience…”It’s magic!
2️⃣ Suggestions for Leaders
As a leader, one of your responsibilities is to grow your team’s skills. A big part of that is making sure each of them is heard.
If you’re in a leadership position, try these tactics the next time you want to encourage someone to speak up:
1. Create a Game Plan
If there’s someone you’ve been encouraging to speak up more often, approach them before the meeting. Find out when and in what way they’d like to contribute, and help them script their comment/question in advance.
2. Track the Ratio
Does one of your team members tend to talk more than everyone else? Keep track of how long each person is speaking and make time for everyone to be heard.
3. Share a Resource!
Here’s my Speaking Up tip sheet, which includes 10 strategies for speaking up in meetings. Please share!
3️⃣ Change the way you listen
It may seem counterintuitive, but sometimes speaking up with confidence starts with doing the opposite: listening.
And I don’t mean passive listening (taking in the information, but staying focused on yourself as you wait your turn to speak). I’m talking about fully engaged, collaborative listening, in which you are focused on learning.
Listening with the goal of learning means that you are:
- Focused on the meeting objective.
- Paying attention to other people’s ideas.
- Not ruminating about what you should say.
And when you do speak up – be it to ask a question, build on an idea, or share a new perspective – your contribution will be all the more meaningful.
I hope these strategies will help you speak up with confidence at your next meeting. And I hope to see you in a few hours at the LinkedIn Live! Please connect with me on LinkedIn if you haven’t already.
Executive Communication Coach
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