This article was last updated on August 22, 2016
You know the feeling all too well. There you are, sat in a meeting, and someone has said something you absolutely disagree with. They’re entitled to their opinion, but so are you, too. The difference is that they are capable of speaking up for themselves while you seem to have lost the power of speech.
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with being an introvert. In fact, many would argue that it carries some fantastic benefits when it comes to business, but at times, it can feel utterly debilitating and prevent you from having your voice heard.
If you’ve sat in a meeting like the one just described and have felt unable to speak out and get your point across, this post is designed to prevent that from ever happening again.
Without further ado, here are 5 ways you can speak out, whenever you need to.
How To Speak Out At Meetings – An Introvert’s Guide
1. Consider you’re not the only introvert in the room
Chances are, you’re not alone in your reluctance to speak up. Others sitting around the table may suffer from the exact same fear as you and are probably wrestling with the same dilemma.
Be the one who metaphorically stands up and makes their point heard and do it in the knowledge that others will admire your bravery. Introverts generally outnumber the over-confident.
2. Don’t picture everyone naked
This age-old suggestion for those undertaking public speaking duties may have some effect in a large hall full of people, but in a meeting? No, sorry.
The mere process of undressing everyone with your eyes will take your mind off the job in hand, which is to simply provide your opinion. No one expects a Martin Luther King speech, and therefore you don’t need to prepare for one. This isn’t a big deal – keep telling yourself that.
3. Ask a question
You’ve got something to say, but the fear of doing so may stem from the knowledge that the spotlight will suddenly be swung in your direction. It will, of course, but you can quickly divert it back to others by finishing your piece with a question. “Does anyone agree?” is a great sign off that will quickly remove the attention from you while giving further airtime to the point you’ve successfully made.
4. Stop telling yourself you’re a poor communicator
When it comes to speaking out in meetings, you don’t have to follow Aristotle’s guide to great communication. You’ll normally be reacting to an opinion or statement that you either agree or disagree with and the emotion behind your point of view are all you need to make your point.
If you truly believe in what you’re saying, you won’t have to pay any attention to the way in which you deliver it – the words will flow effortless from your mouth and in a manner that others will pay attention to. When it comes to communication, emotion beats technical ability hands down, every time.
5. Rope another colleague in
If you have a point to make and you know for sure that a colleague shares your thoughts, bring them along for the ride. Nod to the person in question as you begin talking, or refer directly to the shared opinion by saying “…as Sarah and I were discussing last week.” In doing so, you’ll no longer feel the isolation introverts suffer from when speaking out.
I hope the above tips offer some reassurance that you absolutely have it in you to speak up at meetings. The takeaway here is that you should always go with your gut instinct; you can’t plan reactions to the stuff others say, because it all happens in real time. If someone has said something that immediately sparks a reaction in your head, let it out!
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