Even if you’re confident, it could happen to anyone. You’re in the middle of a meeting when suddenly, pow! You have the mother of all lightbulb moments You don’t want to talk about your own idea because you’re afraid people won’t like it. Or, you think it might not be as good as you first thought. Alexandra Petri of The Washington Post is making a huge impact with her latest article, inserting hilarious thoughts into famous lines to make people rethink the issue at hand.
While sometimes the piece offered a fresh, funny take on the ongoing discussion about when women talk at work, it also came across as frustrating because of how difficult it can feel to voice what you want to say. You may have noticed that meetings can often be very noisy and difficult to follow. To counter this, Hallie Crawford, a certified & experienced career coach, offers her best tactics on how to get you heard in meetings.
1. Prepare, prepare, prepare.
Preparing for meetings is important, no matter what the topic. “Sit down and think about what you want to accomplish in the meeting,” says Crawford. It’s a good idea to do more than just having your thoughts organized in the meeting. Outline how you’re going to be in the meeting – what you’ll wear, your body language, and how you plan on talking with people. All of these things can go a long way in further improving your presentation “Thinking about how you want to come across can help you feel even more prepared,” says Crawford.
2. Kick negative thoughts to the curb.
Your inner voice can be a good or bad thing when going through a meeting. “Even my assertive clients are often hesitant to do things like speak up,” says Crawford. She thinks a lot of reluctance comes down to self-doubt and people are anxious about upsetting anyone. That’s just how negative thinking works. “Be aware of those thoughts, before and during the meeting,” says Crawford. “Do your best to leave them at the door.” If they’re still trying to get your attention, try your best to ignore them and push through anyway. “Sometimes it helps to fake it till you make it,” says Crawford.
3. Speak like a newscaster.
This is unexpected, but it shows how great newscasters should be. They are direct but not abrupt and speak confidently. Their broadcasts also do not contain as many apologies as other, less polished journalists and they avoid disclaimers like “I’m not sure if this a good idea”. “It’s about speaking almost in bulleted language so you get to the point, explain things, and don’t ramble,” says Crawford, who often recommends her clients try this out at work. This might just be what you need the next time you go on and on while trying to get your point across in a meeting.
[Related: The Introvert’s Guide to Speaking Up in Meetings]
4. Use body language to your advantage.
If you want your idea to succeed, speak confidently and make eye contact. “Sit up straight, lean forward, and be engaged,” says Crawford. “That can help you feel more confident in the moment and speak up.” It’s important to make sure you are up front and close if you want people to be engaged by what you have to say. This will give them a first hand account of your presentation. You can use eye contact to your advantage. “It’s fine if you need to glance down at your notes, but be sure to make eye contact with the person or people you’re speaking to,” says Crawford.
[Related: 10 Simple Body Language Tricks That Will Do Wonders for Your Career]
5. Handle Interruptions with grace.
You’ve done so many good things! And you’re explaining them beautifully. Then one person in the conversation takes a totally different direction than the rest of everyone. “If you’re interrupted, you may want to let the person finish their thought,” says Crawford. Else, it can turn into an interrupt-marathon. When they’re done, Crawford suggests telling them something boss lady-esque like, “Thank you for sharing. Now I need to finish what I had to say before.”
Interrupting others can be a difficult problem, particularly if the person does so excessively. If it’s someone who interrupts you all the time or you always feel like you don’t have enough opportunity to speak, then it might not be worth your time and effort to stop them. “Then you might say, ‘Excuse me, but I need to finish what I’m thinking here,’” says Crawford. Yes, you don’t need to say “sorry” for speaking up in a meeting. It is worth sharing your thoughts, and the people close to you will appreciate it.