Last week we looked at the rising pressure for women to speak up and speak out on issues that matter to them – and why, sometimes, we don’t know if we can.
The good news is that you don’t have to leap from a fear of speaking up to being the loudest voice in the room. This week we’re going to share our strategies to help you step a little out of your comfort zone, if that is what you want to do.
Identify the issues you want to speak out about
If you don’t like to speak out, either through fear of what others will think or do in response, or because you are naturally introverted, when you do speak up it will use up a lot of your energy. So a useful first step is to decide what issues and topics you want to have a say on, and which you are happy to watch from the sidelines.
This exercise will make your words, when you do speak out, authentically yours, because you are likely to choose topics that align to your values.
Put pen to paper first
If the situation allows (pre-arranged meeting, a scheduled client or team call, or a planned conversation with a difficult customer or supplier), put pen to paper first. Collect and organise your thoughts so that you have a list of bullet points ready ahead of time.
You can use this list to help you prepare your opening line (because sometimes getting started is the hardest part), as a checklist to ensure you’ve covered all of the points you wanted to, and as a guide that you can come back to if you are interrupted or lose your train of thought.
This approach also gives you the security of a fall-back option…
Don’t be afraid to speak, even if you think the moment has passed
If you can speak up and/or cover all of the points you want to in the moment, great. But if you can’t, or if time runs out, or if you only get through one of the four points you wanted to raise and discuss, don’t be afraid to come back to the issue.
That list you wrote in the point above could easily be turned into a follow-up email to those in the meeting or on the call.
Or keep hold of it and, in your next meeting or call with the same people/person, start with the points you missed last time. A simple “Before we start today’s meeting/call, I’ve been thinking about [topic you discussed last time] and I wanted to share a couple more thoughts…”
Just don’t forget to come back to the reason for this new meeting/call.
Use these lines to help you continue if you’ve been interrupted
Here are some helpful lines to prompt you and help you regain control of the conversation if you are interrupted mid-flow…
- “I have a couple more thoughts to share…”
- “I’d like to offer two more points before we move on…”
- “We shouldn’t forget that…”
Meeting virtually? Use all of the tools at your disposal
More and more of our meetings and customer interactions are happening virtually. Video calls can be draining and when there are multiple participants it can be hard to successfully interject and be heard without the nonverbal cues that would traditionally tell others in the room that we have something to say.
Thankfully most virtual meeting spaces such as Microsoft Teams and Zoom have features that can help. These include a ‘hand-up’ feature that will let the chair (and everyone else) know that you have something to contribute. The other is the chat function where you could use the notes from the list you wrote above to make your point.
We hope that these help you to find your voice and be heard this week. As always, if these tips have helped or if you have your own to add, we’d love to hear all about it in the comments below or over on our Facebook page.
Until next week,
Lucy and Emma x