Hello? Is anyone listening? Have you ever felt like you are not being heard during meetings at work or that you're not even given the chance to participate? It can happen to anyone, but some people find it harder than others to get their point across. Frustrating? Indeed. Especially when you know you have valuable information to share that deserves the team's attention and consideration.
Before you throw in the towel and decide the fight just isn't worth it, understand that there are ways in which you can get your point across in meetings… and others will sit up and listen. It may take a few tries, but before you know it, you will become a pro at participation. Finally, your voice will be heard, and your ideas will become part of the big picture.
Prepare and Practice
You'd likely practice before giving a presentation or speech, so why not put the same effort into what you would like to speak about at an upcoming meeting? You already have the agenda, so prepare beforehand with clear thoughts and a plan of action as to how you'll relay them. Not only will you be organized and ready to share, but you'll be better informed and caught up on business matters in general.
Forbes recommends, "Find a group outside of work where you can practice speaking or create your own group with friends and colleagues."
Be Front and Center
If you are already having issues with being heard during meetings, sitting off to the side or in the back of the room won't do you any favors. Jump right in and make yourself seen before you make yourself heard. You'll be noticed by others and right there amid the action.
As Goodwill notes, "Positioning yourself near the center not only puts you in the middle of the conversation flow, but also subliminally reinforces that you're central to the discussion at hand." Sit up straight and exude confidence.
Choose Your Words Wisely
When you are among a large group, there is little time for beating around the bush or speaking without purpose or clarity. Time is money, and your words are valuable. Make sure what you contribute will move the needle. Don't speak up just so you do not feel left out.
Forbes suggests the use of "power language." "Get to the point and be clear about what you want." Forget the "maybes" and "what ifs." Confidence is power, and your words are your allies.
You may not have something innovative to share at every meeting, but proving you are engaged in the discussion is important as well. Mindtools suggests "asking questions about what other attendees are saying. This shows you're attentive and interested."
By delving deep into the discussions and making sure you completely understand what's going on and what others' points of view are, you will be more informed and more likely to have something to bring to the table that others will want to absorb.
It is inevitable that people will talk over one another during meetings, particularly as the head count goes up. Tact and respect can make this dynamic more palatable, but some people tend to be drowned out and steamrolled.
What to do? Speak up. If you are mid-thought, don't feel shy about asserting yourself and letting the team know that you're not done speaking. Goodwill suggests saying something along the lines of, "I'd love to hear your feedback, but wanted to finish saying one thing first." Your voice is just as important as everyone else's and you deserve your time to be heard.