We've all been in a meeting and had the frustrating experience of trying desperately to make a point, only to fail in eloquence, be interrupted or be too intimidated to put your two cents in. Leaving a meeting disappointed in yourself or feeling ignored or dismissed by your colleagues is always disheartening, and it can impact your self-confidence – especially if this happens to you in multiple meetings.
There is good news though – there are techniques you can employ to get your point across and make sure your voice is heard. Take a look at our suggestions and give them a try at your next meeting. Hopefully this time you won’t be drowned out. 1. PrepareYou may be rolling your eyes at how obvious this is, but giving yourself even just 10 minutes to think about the topic of the meeting, who will be attending and what you can contribute will help you feel better prepared, especially if you feel as if you usually have trouble making your point once you start speaking. If you are a nervous public speaker, you could even write out a few bullet points to take to the meeting with you.
2. Timing MattersRather than waiting until the end of a meeting to offer your input, bring it up when the topic is broached and there's a natural break in conversation. This will ensure that the conversation doesn't move too far away from what you want to say, that everyone is engaged with the subject matter and that no one else will voice similar thoughts before you do. If you're not sure how to get started, you could start with, "I've had a thought relating to this topic.." or "I'd like to contribute an idea regarding this…" and then expand from there.
3. Show Respect for What Others Have SaidIf someone beats you to the first punch at a suggestion, don't get discouraged – wait until they've stated their case, and then piggyback off of their comments, showing respect and appretiation for their contribution before introducing your thoughts. This will show others that you value other people's opinions and are a respectful co-worker, which will hopefully lead to others treating you the same way.
4. Shut Down InterruptionsIf you feel like you're interrupted every time you speak up in a meeting, it's time to politely shut the interruptions down. If a colleague jumps in before you've finished speaking, raise your volume and speak over them; this should give them the signal that they should wait until you're finished. But if the colleague continues, you're well within your right to say, "Please allow me to finish speaking." If that feels too uncomfortable, or if the event that other people jump in and steer the conversation elsewhere, the next time there's a lull, jump in and say something along the lines of, "I’d like to finish my thought from earlier," then continue. By holding your own and not letting people silence you, your colleagues will learn not to interrupt you and to respect your voice in meetings.