Monday, March 28, 2011

How to Have Your Voice Heard in Meetings

Isn’t it interesting how, when many people are in meetings, they shut down and yet in social situations, they are able to chat away about any topic brought to the table?

I have found, over many years of coaching clients to get ahead in their careers, that three little voices, that pop up in our heads, are the main causes of this fear. I think these thoughts can be summed up here:

- ‘What if… I say something stupid?’
- ‘What if… I say the wrong thing?’
- ‘What if… people think I’m an idiot?’

The reality is, no-one in any meeting will ever have the absolute truth to offer up. Because truth does not exist. All any of us has in a meeting is an opinion.

Even when it comes to statistics (apparently factual, black and white data), two people can skew the numbers to suit their own perspectives and support their points - and therefore have different opinions.

So if you struggle to voice your opinion in meetings, here are some tips to help you make a solid first impression:

1. Spend time thinking about the meeting. Consider the agenda. Who will be there and what might their agendas might be? Think about areas where you are already knowledgeable. Think about the questions you might ask. The stats or facts you could offer.

2. Assess where the Energy Centre is. What on earth am I banging on about, ‘energy centre‘?? There are always people in a room where the energy naturally gravitates. Who are they? Is it the CEO? A client? A Partner? Sit near them. The conversation will naturally centre around them and it is much easier to add your opinion if you are nearby than from the other end of a 12-seater table.

3. Make a point early in the conversation and lean forwards as you speak. It will give your point some added weight and naturally bring you into the conversation.

4. The most important tip of all is: to start. The longer you allow your voice to go unheard in meetings, the harder it will be to build credibility in the group.

If you’d like some help to increase your confidence in meeting environments, speak to Rebecca.

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