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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

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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

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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

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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.

Ask Questions

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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.

No Interruptions

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.

Do you have advice for being heard in meetings? Which techniques have empowered you?

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Over two years into the most momentous event in our lives the world has changed forever … Some of us have PTSD from being locked up at home, some are living like everything’s going to end tomorrow, and the rest of us are merely trying to get by. When the pandemic hit we entered a perpetual state of vulnerability, but now we’re supposed to return to normal and just get on with our lives.

What does that mean? Packed bars, concerts, and grocery shopping without a mask feel totally strange. We got used to having more rules over our everyday life, considering if we really had to go out or keeping Zooming from our living rooms in threadbare pajama bottoms.

The work-from-home culture changed it all. Initially, companies were skeptical about letting employees work remotely, automatically assuming work output would fall and so would the quality. To the contrary, since March of 2020 productivity has risen by 47%, which says it all. Employees can work from home and still deliver results.

There are a number of reasons why everyone loves the work from home culture. We gained hours weekly that were wasted on public transport, people saved a ton of money, and could work from anywhere in the world. Then there were the obvious reasons like wearing sweats or loungewear all week long and having your pets close by. Come on, whose cat hasn’t done a tap dance on your keyboard in the middle of that All Hands Call!

Working from home grants the freedom to decorate your ‘office’ any way you want. But then people needed a change of environment. Companies began requesting their employees' RTO, thus generating the Hybrid Work Model — a blend of in-person and virtual work arrangements. Prior to 2020, about 20% of employees worked from home, but in the midst of the pandemic, it exploded to around 70%.

Although the number of people working from home increased and people enjoyed their flexibility, politicians started calling for a harder RTW policy. President Joe Biden urges us with, “It’s time for Americans to get back to work and fill our great downtowns again.”

While Boris Johnson said, “Mother Nature does not like working from home.'' It wasn’t surprising that politicians wanted people back at their desks due to the financial impact of working from the office. According to a report in the BBC, US workers spent between $2,000 - $5,000 each year on transport to work before the pandemic.

That’s where the problem lies. The majority of us stopped planning for public transport, takeaway coffee, and fresh work-appropriate outfits. We must reconsider these things now, and our wallets are paying

the price. Gas costs are at an all-time high, making public transport increase their fees; food and clothes are all on a steep incline. A simple iced latte from Dunkin’ went from $3.70 to $3.99 (which doesn’t seem like much but 2-3 coffees a day with the extra flavors and shots add up to a lot), while sandwiches soared by 14% and salads by 11%.

This contributes to the pressure employees feel about heading into the office. Remote work may have begun as a safety measure, but it’s now a savings measure for employees around the world.

Bloomberg are offering its US staff a $75 daily commuting stipend that they can spend however they want. And other companies are doing the best they can. This still lends credence to ‘the great resignation.’ Initially starting with the retail, food service, and hospitality sectors which were hard hit during the pandemic, it has since spread to other industries. By September 2021, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics reported 4.4 million resignations.

That’s where the most critical question lies…work from home, work from the office or stick to this new hybrid world culture?

Borris Johnson thinks, “We need to get back into the habit of getting into the office.” Because his experience of working from home “is you spend an awful lot of time making another cup of coffee and then, you know, getting up, walking very slowly to the fridge, hacking off a small piece of cheese, then walking very slowly back to your laptop and then forgetting what it was you’re doing.”

While New York City Mayor Eric Adams says you “can't stay home in your pajamas all day."

In the end, does it really matter where we work if efficiency and productivity are great? We’ve proven that companies can trust us to achieve the same results — or better! — and on time with this hybrid model. Employees can be more flexible, which boosts satisfaction, improves both productivity and retention, and improves diversity in the workplace because corporations can hire through the US and indeed all over the world.

We’ve seen companies make this work in many ways, through virtual lunches, breakout rooms, paint and prosecco parties, and — the most popular — trivia nights.

As much as we strive for normalcy, the last two years cannot simply be erased. So instead of wiping out this era, it's time to embrace the change and find the right world culture for you.

What would get you into the office? Free lunch? A gym membership? Permission to hang out with your dog? Some employers are trying just that.

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Did you hear about the Great Resignation? It isn’t over. Just over two years of pandemic living, many offices are finally returning to full-time or hybrid experiences. This is causing employees to totally reconsider their positions.

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