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3 Strategies to Speak Up in Meetings

woman holding jacket and text that reads 3 Strategies to Speak Up in Meetings

Many women miss opportunities because they don’t speak up. I’m on a mission to change that! If you want three practical strategies to be seen and heard, have a read below. You might be surprised at how many more doors can open when you start standing in your power and claiming your seat at the leadership table.


My personal mission is to eradicate self-doubt in 10 million women so that we can all speak up with confidence in any situation. 


For too long I didn’t speak up when I wanted to, even though I was in a leadership role in my company, working for industry leaders like Google, Netflix and UnitedHealthcare. I found myself focused too much on people pleasing, worried that I would be judged or that I would rock the boat.


I held back. And I’m guessing you’ve done that, too. 


It’s time to share your brilliance. My wish for you is to be free of those negative thoughts that hold you back.


Let’s dive in with the three tips:


1. Speak First

You know those few seconds of awkward silence in the beginning of a meeting? Everyone is waiting for someone to go first. Let that be you! 

Here are three reasons to speak first: 


It shows your leadership. You demonstrate confidence to jump in right away. When you share your great thoughts, people start listening. Especially when it is relevant and makes an impact.


You get your thoughts out of the way so you don’t have to worry about several others speaking before you, such that then when it’s your turn, you have nothing unique to add. 

It reduces anxiety. If you go first, you won’t be worried about what you wanted to say the whole time, allowing you to be present for the meeting and hear what people are contributing.


2. When you want to share your opinion in a way that's diplomatic and direct say, "Here's my vote" or "Here's what I think"

Years ago, I was reporting to the president of the company where I worked and one day she surprised me by saying, “Karen, you always come to meetings and ask us what we think. I want to know what you think.” It took me aback, but I realized she was right. I rarely offered my opinion because I was afraid my boss wouldn’t approve or think it was any good. This method of interjecting with “here’s my vote” felt really good to me because the sentence prompt alone helped me have a strategy in my toolbox when I needed it. After doing it many times now and seeing my clients use this same strategy, I know it works! 


3. How to stop rambling and get to the point

Our tendency to ramble is one of the biggest obstacles to presenting well. As a recovering rambler myself, I get it. It’s hard to stay on point when we have so much to say, or we’re nervous. Sometimes we come across as unfocused without realizing it. Or, we realize it and have a hard time knowing how to get out of it. 


How do you fix it? Here are two ways: 


If you notice yourself doing it and your words are already out there, pause, gather your thoughts and say out loud, “My point is this…” and state your point. 


If you realize you’re lost, pause, stay silent, gather your thoughts and move on with your point. No one will notice the difference, most likely. Pausing gives the audience a chance to absorb what you said and gives their brains a break. 


Can’t wait to hear how these tips work for you! 


If you want more strategies for confident communication, check out my book, Trust Your Own Voice: Growing Your Influence Through Confident Communication, my podcast, Ignite Your Confidence, or my IG LIve show, The Confidence Corner, every Tuesday at 5pm Pacific/8pm Eastern. 


By: Karen Laos


Connect with Karen:


Check out this article and others like it in our Empowering Women in Industry Digital Magazine.

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