As I grew into larger and larger leadership roles, I often found myself shying away from speaking up in meetings, forums and important sessions- especially when I was new to a role. I let my lack of self-confidence and fear of what others would think get the better of me. As a result, I would be overlooked, and my voice would not be heard. My perspective or my advocating for those who worked for me would go un-noticed at first.
I find women in leadership often have difficulties speaking up and being heard. Much of my coaching client work revolves around building their self-confidence and courage needed to be a vocal member of a discussion.
Over the years, I was able to catch myself in the repeating cycle of not speaking up in new positions. As I worked to break the cycle, I developed these tools for myself:
Preparation: Being prepared to speak up is half the battle. Self-coaching will help to reinforce that your voice matters and you have an important perspective to share. Listen to others, observe the group tone and body language. Even get on the agenda ahead of time, so you know you will have the floor.
Intention: Know what information or point you want to impart. Be succinct- straight to the point without mincing words. Be reflective and give the why behind the what. Lastly, be strategic in what you want to accomplish from the conversation.
Conviction and authority: Speak with confidence and assurance. Not only will you help your message come through with clarity and conviction, but it will build your self-confidence and speaking style. Don’t apologize, and don’t speak in questions. But do check for clarity and understanding when needed. Asking questions is always good, and coming from a place of curiosity is critical.
Know your signals: Tap into yourself and learn your emotional and physical reactions to needing to speak up and any reservations to speaking up. Work through any difficulties you may be experiencing in saying that first word- sometimes all you need to do is take a deep breath, tell yourself you’ve got this, and begin.
Women have critical voices that need to be heard. Our voice changes cultures, enhances company landscapes, and helps new leaders find their own voices.
How will you make sure your voice is heard?
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