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Five Strategies for Speaking Up (And When To Hold Back)

5 Strategies for Speaking Up (And When To Hold Back)

Meetings are a great way to showcase our knowledge, add value to the team and position ourselves as leaders – but let’s be honest, they can also be daunting and sometimes feelings of nervousness, anxiety and self-doubt can get in the way and hold us back from fully participating.

Even though our members know that being more vocal in the workplace can help them professionally, a common comment we hear is “but I can’t think of anything to say”.

To be clear, we’re certainly not advocating for you to say pointless comments in your next meeting just for the sake of it.What we are encouraging you to do, is to get strategic when it comes to speaking up in meetings.

On that note, here are 5 Strategies for Speaking Up (And When To Hold Back).

5 Strategies for Speaking Up

1. Prepare in advance.

Be sure to fully review the agenda and any preparation material. This will naturally generate some insightful questions that you can have ready to go which will also help you avoid speaking off the cuff.

2. Get curious about the process.

Pay attention to how conclusions, decisions and plans were made. This can uncover helpful insights about another person’s reasoning/way of thinking that can add to the quality of the discussion (and can also uncover possible oversights). 

  • E.g. ‘I hadn’t considered approaching it that way before. Can you walk me through your thinking on that?’ 

3. Make space to talk about concerns.

It’s OK to ask about potential issues or concerns (in fact, it could help the team avoid a larger issue down the road if you don’t!). Pro tip: Remember to use collaborative language when asking these types of questions.  

  • E.g. ‘Do you foresee any challenges or potential roadblocks on this project plan?’

4. Compliment someone.

Part of building psychological safety in the workplace is to support and encourage your team when they propose a good idea, thought or conclusion. Complimenting a colleague can also double as a great opportunity for you to speak up! 

  • E.g. ‘I love how you framed that problem. It really helped when you broke it down into something simpler to understand’

5. Narrate your gut feeling.

Another tactic is to share your first instinct about how an idea, proposal, plan makes you feel (does the timeline seem too long? does the scope seem too vague?). Pro tip: try to articulate it in a way that illustrates you have an open-mind and are leaving space for further exploration/discussion. 

  • E.g. ‘My first instinct is to say “that is out of the scope” but I want to hear more about how you are factoring it into the project timeline?’

Remember…you were invited to participate for a reason. Because you have expertise in your role and contribute valuable information to the discussion. The team wants you to speak up and share your thoughts and ideas so it’s worth developing this skill. Plus, the more you do it, the more confident you will become!

And When To Hold Back...

1. When you’re unprepared. 

You didn’t read the agenda, you barely skimmed the preparation material, you didn’t watch the video. If you say something that was already covered in the preparation materials, it will be obvious that you’re unprepared and didn’t do your homework. 

2. When you’re unclear (or don’t have) a point.

 If you’re not clear on why you’re speaking, then you risk rambling, losing your train of thought or going ‘blank.’ If you don’t have a point, your team will also struggle with knowing how to respond to what you said.

3. When it’s distracting. 

When you’re about to say something off-topic or that detracts from the point of the discussion.

4. When you’re interrupting.

Interrupting can come across as disrespectful. We recognize that sometimes you have to interject, but try to do it in the least disruptive way possible.

Taking It One Step At A Time

Remember, like any other skill, public speaking can be strengthened over time.

Speaking up in meetings can be a great way to start building your confidence in this area. If you have a tendency to experience feelings of nervousness, anxiety, and self-doubt, try taking it step-by-step.

Interested in becoming a member or partnering with Speak for Success for your team?

👩🏻‍💻You can register today or book a call with one of our Learning Specialists to find out how we can support you or your team. 

Contact Speak for Success

Overall, public speaking is a GREAT way to improve self-confidence by helping you overcome your fears, enhance your communication skills, and build self-esteem. With practice and dedication, you can improve your overall self-confidence. 

Plus with Speak for Success, it can also be fun, safe and supportive.

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