How to confidently interject in meetings 📢
Meetings are one of the most common places my coachees report feeling self-conscious.
And who could blame them? Giant boardrooms, the scrutinizing eyes of your manager - and throw in a complex meeting topic - and that’s enough to make anyone anxious, freeze up, and struggle to find their words. Not fun! 😣
But, here’s the thing: Meetings matter! Harvard Business Review says, “Your leadership readiness is measured in part by your willingness to speak up in a meeting.”
That’s because meetings are more than just an audition stage for showcasing your energy, attitude, and your best ideas. It’s also how things get done. According to a new study, when employees speak up with managers or bosses who have the authority and resources to address an issue, it leads to a 12%-15% increase in ideas getting implemented and subsequent performance.
And that’s not all. MIT Media Labs research says members of high-performing teams tend to talk and listen roughly equally. You see, the team *needs* your input to reach its potential!
So how can you move past anxiety and overthinking to bring forth your best contributions in meetings? Well, here are three strategies to get you started.
Quick Confidence Tips for Confidently Contributing in Meetings:
Mindset: Identify your sources of hesitation. It’s much easier to encourage your own contributions when you know what that worried voice inside is saying. So, if you want to contribute more in meetings, pause and ask yourself: Are you censoring yourself a lot? Deferring to higher-ups or letting others run the meeting? Are you worried about stepping on others’ toes? Or, are you feeling plain scared to get it wrong and say something others will reject? Understanding your trepidation is the first step in speaking up more! In my own case, I was deathly afraid early in my career to “get it wrong” or share an idea not fully formed enough. It wasn’t until a manager prompted me to contribute more by saying, “I want to hear the first thing that comes to your mind that adds a new dimension or layer to the conversation, ” that I started to pipe up more.
Embodied: Get ready to repeat yourself. Is that an echo I hear? No, it’s just you reminding others of an idea you shared earlier. Don’t worry about being “annoying”. The truth is, putting your suggestions forward once or twice is simply not enough! You may have to tweak and reshare your recommendations multiple times before they’re heard, let alone acted upon. A new study from Administrative Journal Quarterly supports this; researchers found that “voicing feedback is not a ‘drop the mic’ type of event. To create real change, you must speak up repeatedly and have several discussions with your manager or stakeholders over time.” If you want support for your contributions, embrace repetition.
Interpersonal: Simplify your contributions. Rather than shooting to showcase your brilliance or demonstrate intellectual gymnastics, change your focus to contributing in simple ways. That lowers the pressure on you to jump into a crowded conversation and also ensures your point is clear and doesn’t get missed. Try to ask questions people have overlooked, synthesize disparate information, or make a new point that’s not being considered. My favorite starter phrases to help with this include: "I want to share an alternative view…", "Before we move on, let me add...", "Can I jump in? I have an idea that relates to what you just said...", and "I'm glad you brought that up. I'd like to add…"
And a bonus piece of advice: Break the ice early! The longer you wait, the scarier it can feel to speak up.
I know that getting over anxiety in situations where all eyes are on you is easier said than done, but I promise if you use these strategies consistently you’ll see your confidence in meetings increase.
Do you tend to clam up in meetings? What’s your biggest worry when it comes to making contributions in meetings? I’d love to hear about it in the comments.
It's bonus time! If you pre-order a copy of my new book, Quick Confidence, you'll get a very special gift.
After sharing proof of purchase, you’ll receive access to attend a weekly series of 1-hour Zoom group coaching sessions with me through May. Each week, we'll tackle a different aspect of building confidence - from dealing with intimidating people, to finding confidence in networking situations - to making memorable first impressions.
The best part is you can bring your own questions and get tailored advice on tackling your toughest workplace and career dilemmas.