What holds you back from speaking during meetings? Is it fear and doubt about your ideas? Do you have trouble saying just what you mean? Are you an entry-level employee who wants to let senior employees carry the conversation? For whatever reason, many employees choose to stay mum during meetings. This means fewer ideas are posed, which dampers potential innovation. The general rule states that if you’re invited to a meeting, you’re expected to speak up.
Here are five ways to build confidence, enabling you to speak up the next time you hop on a Zoom call or head into a meeting room.
1. Understand your strengths
There’s a reason you were invited to the meeting in the first place. Whoever organized the meeting clearly sees your value; you just need to recognize it as well. If possible, gather a list of all parties invited to a meeting and predict what their contributions will be. Then reflect on what makes you stand out from the other attendees. How can you leverage that during the meeting? It’s hard to feel confident if you don’t recognize your own worth, so devote time to self-reflection.
2. Plan ahead
Prior to your meetings, outline what will be discussed and conduct some research about the topic. For example, if your team is discussing marketing tactics, research successful digital marketing techniques. Take note of what has worked for your team – and others – in the past and use that information to form some ideas.
3. Say something off the cuff
I know, this is the complete opposite of the previous recommendation, but hear me out. It isn’t feasible to think that you can comprehensively prepare for every meeting you will ever attend. Sometimes you will have a day of endless meetings, giving you no time to prep. Other days, you will receive impromptu meeting invites. Start getting into the habit of not filtering yourself. This doesn’t mean you should start talking about what you had for dinner last night during a client meeting. Instead, trust your instincts and opinions without second-guessing your value. In fact, speaking naturally instead of reading from your notes is preferable. If you only say things that you’ve rehearsed, you risk sounding robotic and you’ll have trouble keeping up if the conversation veers in an unpredictable direction.
4. Speak early
It is easier to speak within the first few minutes of a meeting than to save your insights until the end. When you speak toward the beginning, it’s less likely that someone will “steal” your comment. You also have more influence over the meeting. People might build off of your idea, giving you the confidence you need to speak in the future. If you wait until the end, your ideas could become an afterthought or, worse, you could cause the meeting to drag on. Don’t do that!
5. Build a rapport with colleagues
If you are new to your agency, you might refrain from speaking because you fear judgment. The best way to overcome this is to become more acquainted with your coworkers. This will help you feel more comfortable presenting your ideas to them in internal meetings. You will be less concerned with impressing everyone and more focused on contributing to your team.
Brainstorming and communicating your insights will take you far. So, the next time a colleague gives you a seat at the table, dig in.