Top-Shelf Tip No. 008:

"The best teamwork comes from those who are working independently toward one goal in unison."

James Cash Penney

How To Get Your Voice Heard In Meetings

I was recently in a meeting with 12 people, and it was an opportunity to contribute my industry knowledge and be a strong contributor to the team. There was just one problem. The woman at the end of the table talked—a lot. In fact, every point she made turned into a 15-minute diatribe. In the end, she dominated the conversation and the agenda, and I left the meeting without even saying a word.

Has this ever happened to you? Or, perhaps you've shared your ideas in a meeting only to be shot down by bigger voices in the room. Whatever the case, in this issue of Promotional Consultant Today, we're sharing these key tips to get noticed in meetings—in a positive way, of course—as shared by Mindtools, a web portal for leadership development.

1. Have Confidence in Your Own Value. Mindtools suggests that first, determine why getting your voice heard in meetings is important. Identify the value you bring to the table. When you can clarify why you should "hold your own" in a meeting, you demonstrate confidence and proactivity, and this can mark you as a leader.

2. Ask Questions. If you aren't ready to share your own idea or view, begin by asking questions about what other attendees are saying. This shows that you're attentive, engaged and interested. Just be careful that you don't ask so many questions that you interrupt or delay the meeting.

3. Speak Up For Others. Learning to push yourself forward can be hard, but most of us tend to find helping and praising others easier. It can be something as simple as, "Peter, what were you going to say?" If someone says something that you agree with, say so. Once you give someone else credit for an idea, you might want to build on it by adding your own ideas.

4. Appear Present. Remember that your body language speaks volumes. Having good posture at the table makes a positive impression. It suggests that you are alert, engaged and respectful.

5. Be One of the First to Speak. By speaking early in the meeting, you can have your say and feel more relaxed, receptive and positive during the rest of the meeting. If you hold back, you'll likely become more nervous and someone else may put forward your best idea. It may also be difficult to find a gap in the discussion for you to say what you wanted to say-so take the lead and be assertive.

5. Embrace the Skills of Introversion. If you are an introvert, take advantage of the fact that you'll likely be reflective, strategic, thoughtful, a good listener and observant. You can draw on these attributes in two ways: in the lead-up to the meeting, research the subject under discussion and plan what you want to say or ask. Once in the meeting, summarize what's being said and offer a considered opinion.

6. Get on the Agenda. If you can, get yourself on the agenda so you will have a guaranteed opportunity to talk. If this isn't possible, let everyone know in advance that you have something you want to share. For example, if you've received an email about the meeting, reply, "I'm really looking forward to attending this meeting and sharing my new ideas about X." You're making it clear that you have something to offer.

7. Keep It Short. Starting with an apologetic "I'm sorry, but …" will immediately weaken your position. Start proudly and strongly with, "I'd like to say …" or "Can I add …?" Once you've said what you want to say, simply finish speaking. People will appreciate your efficient delivery.

Also, avoid saying, "I disagree." People hear this and immediately feel confronted and annoyed, and they'll probably stop listening to you. Try these phrases instead:

• "I wonder if we might also consider …"

• "I see it differently because …"

• "I agree to some extent, but I have some doubts about …"

Follow these tips and experience an improvement in your engagement in meetings.

Source: Mindtools is an online portal that includes a wide range of skill-building resources can help people to become exceptionally effective and highly successful, transform into an inspirational manager and leader, and become happier at work.

Compiled by Cassandra Johnson

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