Tips for Being More Vocal During Work Meetings

What are most people afraid of? If you guessed bugs, you’re correct, but there is one other thing: public speaking.

While not everyone is afraid of speaking in public, enough of us are afraid of it to make it one of the most commonly named fears. Public speaking can make us feel self-conscious, frightened, unfocused, and forgetful. This applies whether one is giving a speech in front of thousands of people or if one is thinking of speaking up at a work meeting where only five other people are present.

Sometimes a fear of public speaking comes from a fear of looking stupid in front of other people, whether it’s colleagues, a supervisor, or strangers. Interestingly enough, surveys have shown that workers who speak up more frequently during business meetings are actually perceived as more intelligent and competent. Speaking up during a meeting doesn’t always come with the potential for being looked at as incompetent.

The trick to talking during a meeting is to acknowledge and remember that you do not need to know ‘everything’. Knowing everything about everything being discussed isn’t necessary for you to have an opinion or observation about ‘something’. Contribution is key to being part of a work team, and making that contribution, no matter how small you may think it is, will do much more than sitting there and staying silent the entire time.

Here are some things to consider when speaking up during a business meeting:

•             Ask a question: If you’re unsure about something, it is better to get clarification than to sit there dumbfounded and confused as to what your colleagues are discussing. Asking a question will not only inform you, but it will show your colleagues and your boss that you are interested in the topic.

•             Admit when you don’t know something: This may be extremely difficult, but this can actually work in your favour. Admitting your own ignorance will show that you are confident enough to state when you need help that you are interested in your company and its success.

•             Be enthusiastic: Your demeanour is noticed, especially when you’re in a conference room with your colleagues. Being enthusiastic about the topic of the meeting will show that you care about your company’s goals and that you want to help contribute in any way that you can. Make sure you speak loudly and clearly, as well as face your audience and make eye contact. Showing confidence in your opinion will make it more convincing for others.

•             Pay attention: Work meetings can be boring, but don’t let yourself drift off. Staying alert and listening to what everyone is saying will assist you in being able to meaningfully contribute. It is really obvious when someone is not paying attention, and you do not want to leave the meeting having made a negative impression on your supervisors or your colleagues.

Speaking up during a meeting may be difficult at first, but the more you do it, the easier it will become. Experience builds confidence, and confidence is a key trait for effective speaking. You don’t have to speak for ten minutes; you don’t even have to speak for five minutes. Asking a question, or contributing a succinct but thoughtful opinion can make just as much of an impact.

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