Meetings – do you find it easy to speak up and share your viewpoint? Are you happy that your team all feel confident to do so, when appropriate?

Having the confidence to speak up in meetings is essential, particularly with increased seniority and if you want to progress your career.

However, frequently even fairly senior people say they struggle or that they have had feedback that they aren’t contributing enough.

Why it is important to speak up:

  • You may not think what you have to say is important or anything new, but it may provide clarity that some people in the room don’t yet have. What seems obvious to you may be the solution/idea that is needed.
  • To avoid feeling frustrated and de-motivated if you don’t have your say. The risk is when you do eventually speak, there will be a lot of built up ‘stuff’ that may come across slightly dramatic, both in the way it is said and as you’ve been silent up to now.
  • You need to gain exposure, just delivering work – whatever form that takes is not enough to progress your career. People need to experience who you are as a person and be able to remember who you are, if you don’t say much you’ll either be negatively memorable or not memorable at all! Read more on this topic.

So, what holds people back from speaking up?

  • Inferiority complex/lack of confidence – they feel unimportant (or certainly less important than those around them) and that they have nothing new or interesting to add. This is frequently an issue in meetings with more senior people. The key is to think about what perspective you can bring. How can you add to the meeting?
  • Talking for the sake of talking – this can happen in certain work cultures, where everyone feels they have to say their bit. This is particularly negative when people just reiterate what another has said, without acknowledging it. Come up with valuable things to contribute where you can. If you are repeating something, reference that and acknowledge your support for the other person’s contribution.
  • Disinterest/disengagement – if this is the case then you need to consider whether it is time to move on. Disengagement for any prolonged length of time is demotivating for you and others around you. If you think this is the reason for one of your team not speaking up, it’s important to address it quickly.
  • Lack of skills – sometimes people have things to say but get stuck on how to speak up and seemingly interrupt others. It can be a vicious cycle, the less someone says, the less someone feels able to say. Some tips for this will be the subject of my next article.

So have a think today about whether you or your team need to speak up more in meetings (there are after all some good reasons why!) and what is holding you/them back. It is only then that you/they can tackle it.

To read about four areas to focus on to progress your career, click here.

If you want to talk about this topic or any other that is holding you or a team member back, contact me to arrange a complimentary, 30 minute Career Booster discussion, to see whether I can help. My Career Progression Programme™ gets great results, as highlighted by this client:

“I came to learn about what Joanna does through a professional CPD event in October last year. I decided to seek Joanna’s help following some setbacks with key relationships at work last year. I have had four political intelligence and personal impact sessions, coached and guided by Joanna, and I learned so much. Joanna provided practical examples and advice on how to tackle some key relationships with my work colleagues and key stakeholders. I have started implementing my agreed actions with Joanna and have experienced some positive results. I immensely enjoyed the sessions, and would thoroughly recommend Joanna if anyone would like to develop or improve on building key relationships or on personal brand and impact.”
Anonymous, Head of Actuarial Reporting, Large Corporate.

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