speaking up at work is crucial to getting your voice heard, promotions considered, and your overall wellbeing. do it enough and with the right communication style, and you’ll impress everyone around you. do it poorly and you’ll make your coworkers think you’re subpar. so how do you speak up in meetings the right way?
speaking up in meetings is an art form. it requires pretty constant moderation and is adjusted over time to suit the needs of the meeting and the people listening in. and underneath all of that careful curation and well timed responses is your own personality. consider the idea that being a successful person at work is partially based on your ability to communicate. your ability to communicate is based on your personality, your experiences, and your current state of emotions. rather than claim that there is one correct way to speak at meetings, I’d like to offer the idea that it is more of an art form. speaking up in meetings is made up of your own chemistry, the chemistry of the team, and the current situation.
1. consider the team chemistry: if you know your team well enough, you’ll know when you should keep quiet and when you should voice your own opinions. better yet, if you can gage the current chemistry in the room and apply it to the overall team culture, you can be even better prepared to speak when needed. there’ve been a few times where I kept quiet when I normally would’ve spoken up because the conversation was too heated and needed a break. other times, I’ve misread the situation and kept quiet, thinking that I should keep my opinions to myself, and then gotten feedback later that the team would’ve appreciated my opinion. if you’re new to a team, take more time to read the chemistry of the team so that you can appropriately add to the conversation.
2. think through your responses: before speaking up, consider how your opinion might come across. despite emotions and biases, try to keep yourself in check and focus on the conversation at hand. the more objective you can be, the better you’ll communicate. bonus point – you’ll gain the appreciation of your peers.
3. don’t be intimidated: no matter how junior you are, speak up! if you have an opinion or feedback that can be useful to the team, tell it! speaking in front of big team executives is challenging, but you’ll earn a lot of respect from them and perhaps add a little more to the overall team perspective. the other thing to remember is that even if you feel like your idea or feedback is stupid, don’t. speaking up is much more important and most likely, you will not sound stupid! be brave, ladies.
4. listen: the more you listen, the better your responses will be. if you spend the meeting time thinking about your own feedback, you’ll miss crucial information from other team members. listen with both your brain and your heart so that you can fully understand other’s perspectives while still voicing your own.
speaking up at meetings is tricky, but if done right, it can become a huge asset for your career and for the team you work with. practice as much as you can, be present at meetings, and speak up!