Tips for Getting Your Voice Heard in meetings

Whether you are in a business meeting or a social situation, how do you get your voice heard in meetings? The environment may be different but the principles are essentially the same.
Some people are very comfortable speaking on a one to one basis but then crumble and fall silent when confronted with a group of people to speak to.
Meetings can bring out the best and worst in people.
For some it’s an opportunity and a stage for stroking their egos, or saying as much as they can even when they have nothing much to contribute. On the other hand there are those in the meeting holding precious information and ideas that could help everyone but remain anonymous and quiet, not daring to speak.
What’s happening at a ‘perfect meeting’?
Just for a moment imagine you are in what you would describe as a perfect meeting. If you have attended one or more, it’s easy. If you haven’t imagine what you’d like. What is happening at this perfect meeting and what might be on your list?

  • A good chair or facilitator
  • An agenda
  • A productive discussion where decisions are made
  • The ‘right’ people are there
  • An opportunity for everyone to contribute fairly evenly and to buy in to the decisions
  • It starts and ends on time

Please add your own……….?

Consider what stops this from happening?
You give away your Rights
The reasons are, of course, many, but a key one is that you give away your right to have your time used effectively. And with every right you claim there is a corresponding responsibility. If you have been invited to a meeting you have been chosen as the appropriate person to add value to the discussion. Why else would you be there?
If, this is not the case then you shouldn’t be there and it’s worth negotiating and extricating yourself from these time wasting situations – you have but one life.
Useful Tips
There are a number of hints and strategies to speak up if you are someone prone to be the silent member.

  • One hint is to be speak as early as you can in the meeting. It doesn’t have to be a lengthy contribution and genuinely agreeing with and supporting someone else’s idea/view is an easy and immensely helpful entry into a meeting.
  • Generally, sit up straight, don’t lean back and make eye contact with the particular speaker at that moment.
  • Chose where you sit – so you have eye contact with as many people as you can, particularly the ‘chair’.
  • Change your body language prior to saying what you want to say- others peripheral vision is strong and they will notice something has and is going to change – moving forward slightly is a good indication that you want to speak.

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photo credit: Michigan Municipal League (MML) via photopin cc

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