In my last article, I looked at why it is important to speak up in meetings and the potential things that hold people back. If you didn’t read it, you can do so here. So in this article, as promised, I want to provide some simple tangible tips to help you speak up more in meetings.
Space – do you own your space in a meeting? People who try to make themselves smaller in their chair diminish their presence and don’t look like they want to be there, never mind contribute. If the chairs have arms, use them to rest your arms on, which will help you own your space. This will help you look ‘open’ too.
Arm position – are you spending a lot of time with your arms folded? We all know what this can communicate (although not always, as those of us that get cold easily sometimes fold our arms, if you do do this, make sure the rest of your body language is ‘open’).
Hand position – make sure these are visible at least some of the time, having them hidden under the table can make you look disengaged and bored. At the time you want to contribute, use them to signal this.
Voice – make sure you speak loud enough and at a reasonable pace. If people speak too quietly or too fast others don’t engage, which doesn’t encourage that person to speak up again.
Posture – particularly when you wish to speak, make sure you are sat upright in the chair, rather than slouched and not too far back form the table. You need to look ready to speak.
Eye contact – when you are wanting to speak, make sure you are looking at the person currently speaking so you can judge it right when to speak (of course making sure you are listening to them, not just waiting to speak!). If the meeting has a clear chairperson then catching that person’s eye is also helpful.
Prepare – if you have considered a few things that are likely to be valuable to contribute in the meeting in advance, then you will feel you have something valuable to contribute and you will be far more willing to speak up.
My suggestion would be to integrate these techniques one or two at a time, so that you can focus on trying and embedding one or two new behaviours thoroughly, before adding to it. This sort of change takes time!
If you want to talk about this topic or any other that is holding you or a team member back in terms of career progression, contact me to arrange a complimentary 30 minute discussion, to see whether I can help. My Career Progression Programme™ gets great results, as highlighted by this client:
“The techniques she gave me to deal for example with difficult professional situations proved as, if not more, important for my image. What I appreciated with Joanna was the focus on what I wanted and not only what she thought I should do.
The latter allowed me for example to dramatically improve my relations with senior management. As I was now taken more seriously, I have more and better relations, no longer needing to justify my presence, but instead concentrating on what needs to be done.” AL, Transformation Manager, Large Corporate