Imagine confidently sharing your amazing ideas in any meeting without ever feeling nervous or stressed. Even though introverts might want to stay in their comfort zones, this isn’t always the reality. It’s hard enough to start a conversation with one person, let alone try and interject in a meeting full of them. But we all know how important it is to be an active participant, especially at work. The next time you’re feeling lost for words, use these tips on how to contribute without putting too much pressure on yourself. According to research from the Harvard Business Review, women often feel less effective during meetings than they do in other business-related situations. This can be due to a lack of confidence or feeling like it’s difficult to find a way into the conversation. Since I wanted to discover some practical tips on how to speak up during meetings, I asked Ashley Stahl, a career coach and extrovert for her advice.
[Related: 10 Habits of Successful Introverts]
Allow Yourself to Stop Feeling Like You Need to Fill Every Silence With Words.
In today’s world, it can feel like you need to shout to be heard. If that doesn’t sound like your idea of fun, don’t worry. You can take the pressure off yourself. Often, it seems like we need to talk to lots of people at once in order to be productive during a meeting. This can cause the event itself to be quite unpleasant. However, if we go into the meeting with a different perspective and intention, we may find that it is more enjoyable. “My top tip for introverts is to give themselves permission to let go of the belief that they need to talk to every person in the room,” Stahl says. Simply put, the things you say are just as important as speaking up in general. It’s better to focus on saying something meaningful rather than trying to speak a lot. Doing so will help ease your anxiety and allow you to concentrate on making quality contributions. Sometimes, I’ll jot down the main points I want to hit before saying them out loud; having my thoughts collected in front of me makes it simpler to pipe up.
Exercise Your Right to Speak.
Contrary to popular belief, practice makes perfect when it comes to voice projection. “I believe that speaking is a muscle inside of you that can be built—but only if you use it,” Stahl says. The best way to conquer any fear is by facing it head-on. Why not try making a goal for yourself that encourages you to speak up more often during the week? Try starting small, like sharing one new idea during your next brainstorming meeting. By regularly exercising this creative “muscle”, it will grow stronger and those initial challenges will become more natural to you. With time, they’ll become part of your daily routine without requiring much effort from you at all!
[Related: Interview Tips for When You’re an Introvert]
Sometimes, the Most Complex Problems Have the Simplest Solutions.
According to Stahl, one way for introverts to become more comfortable with speaking is by taking a speaking class, such as Toastmasters. “These classes help you build that muscle to speak, and the environment is profoundly supportive,” she says. “It’ll inevitably translate into your work life.” Not to mention, if you feel nervous about public speaking, bringing a friend along can help. After all, there are probably other people in the office who would love to improve their skills as well.
If you’re hoping to find an environment that is low-pressure and allows you to practice your speaking skills, look no further than Local Levo events happening near you! You’ll be able to gain confidence Speaking up without any worries at these fun local gatherings.
[Related: How to Stand Out in a Group of Extroverts]