Remember back in high school when you would get “participation points”? Where teachers would grade you based on whether you actively participated and spoke up during class?
Just because you’ve now left the classroom doesn’t mean you aren’t still being graded. Only this time it’s by your boss. One of the best ways to show that you are actively engaged, listening, and part of the conversation is to speak up during meetings.
As obvious as it may sound, meeting after meeting can go by and you may not even realize that you’ve exited out of the Zoom not having contributed anything. It’s easy to go on cruise control and just listen to others!
And there is no doubt about it: it can be daunting, intimidating, and flat-out scary to speak up. What if I say the wrong thing? What if I’m laughed at? These are all normal thoughts you may have when trying to decide whether or not to raise your hand. But what about all the positives?
By speaking up in a meeting, it shows you are tuned in and listening. It also gives you credibility. Having something to say — and doing so — shows that you know what you are talking about and have the confidence and ability to share it with the rest of the group. When it comes time for a promotion, your manager will remember who is actively engaged – and who is not.
Before each meeting, be sure you are prepared. Know what you are meeting about and take the time to think about what you can volunteer to the meeting. What will add value? What will impress your manager and your peers? By thinking about this ahead of time, you are able to craft the perfect way to articulate your thoughts. Jot down talking points and notes to have with you during the meeting. Having them in front of you and being able to reference them will give you extra confidence and keep what you are saying on-track. (We all tend to ramble when nervous!) Just as a performer would never get on stage without having rehearsed their words, the same goes for you!
And even if you don’t necessarily have something to add, you still have the ability to ask questions. Listen to what is being talked about and try to think of one or two questions you can ask that will showcase your understanding of the subject, as well as your authority. Remember: asking questions doesn’t mean you need to feign ignorance. Asking questions can just as easily show your understanding of the subject and wanting a clear understanding of how to push the topic forward.
The next time you have something to say, don’t let any self-doubt hold you back. Remember that by speaking up, you are strategically putting your best foot forward by showing your knowledge, skill, and passion.