Speaking in meetings is a lot of people’s worst nightmare. Having to do so can make you experience feelings of stress or nervousness. However, these are just biological responses you can influence. From making a friend of your feelings to remembering your worth as an employee, there are many things you can do to improve your communication skills.
Here are seven tips for speaking in meetings.
- Befriend Your Nervousness
- Make An Easy Start
- Be One Of The First To Speak
- Champion The Next Steps
- Do Your Research
- Leverage Your Position And Expertise
- Remember Your Worth
1. Befriend Your Nervousness
This may sound odd at first, but redefining your pre-meeting nervousness as a good thing is a strong way of talking with confidence. You may be feeling nervous, anxious or stressed out before a meeting, but feelings like these are exactly that - simply feelings. Sometimes we believe the worst may happen, but ask yourself, how often does that occur?
The nerves we feel are actually adrenaline, preparing us for something. It’s a stress response. We need to realign our opinions on those feelings, reframing them as signs that you’re ready for anything and prepared to think on your feet.
2. Make An Easy Start
Arriving right before a meeting can make you feel rushed, increasing any stress you may be experiencing. Rather than do this, prepare a buffer zone between arriving and the start of the meeting. Arrive 10 or 15 minutes early and prepare yourself, which can be done in a number of ways:
- Ease into the physical surroundings.
- Make yourself comfortable.
- Make yourself a drink.
- Read over any notes.
- Set up your space.
Alternatively, if it’s a virtual conference, give yourself the time to set up the relevant technology. This buffer also gives you the chance to make comforting small talk, which can be socially fulfilling.
3. Be One Of The First To Speak
Another tip for speaking in meetings is to be one of the first to make a point.
If you’ve got ideas, opinions or concerns, don’t let them go unsaid. As the meeting progresses, if you’ve been quiet for the majority of the time, it gets harder to enter the conversation. The longer you wait, the harder it can get and the more your anxiety may build.
Most often, periods of growth come from entering periods of discomfort and acclimatising to get used to them. We only progress if we push ourselves. Set yourself up a strategy to say something within the first 10 minutes of the discussion - even if it’s just asking a series of questions. It’s an easy way of not only making sure you contribute but making sure your contribution is heard.
4. Champion The Next Steps
During the meeting, did anything come up that needed more research? If so, commit to that research so you can become the key source of information in the next meeting. If the group discusses something and doesn’t reach a useful conclusion, it’s likely the topic will come up again in future. This presents an opportunity to ‘champion’ those next steps.
Not only will you learn something new and develop on your skills, you’re also giving yourself a solid reason to speak up in the next group discussion.
5. Do Your Research
A great tip for speaking in meetings is simple: take the time to do your research.
The better prepared you are, the easier the talking will become. Similar to our last point, if you do your research, it’s an opportunity to assert yourself as the person to turn to when knowledge is needed.
Write out a series of key talking points and facts that you can draw upon. You can commit these to memory or even have them in front of you, as no one is judging your ability to speak on demand. They’ll be impressed you’ve put so much effort in, regardless of how you present your findings.
6. Leverage Your Position And Expertise
You might be in a unique position in an organisation, which could be based on multiple things such as professional history, role or personal demographic.
For example, if you’re younger than everyone else, you might be able to speak on how members of your generation interact with a certain idea. If you’ve had a varied professional history, are there any unique experiences or skills you can apply to that meeting?
Anyone will be able to offer a perspective based on their position and history, so don’t forget to try it for yourself.
7. Remember Your Worth
Phrases such as ‘I’m not sure about this, but…’ or ‘This might be a stupid question…’ only do a disservice to yourself. They immediately put you on the back foot, diminishing your stature and the validity of your claim or query. If you’re going to ask something, ask it up front and don’t apologise.
Remember two things: You were hired for your skill and expertise and you were chosen for that meeting for a reason. Capitalise on that self-assurance.
There you have it, seven tips for speaking in meetings. These can help you become a more confident and seamless communicator in a professional setting. However, they’re not the only ways you can improve your communication skills. If you’re looking for more help in that area, download our helpful guide.
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