Overthinking stops us in our tracks. It can mean that we miss the chance to speak up, feel frustrated and unheard, tie ourselves up in knots and never make a decision. When it comes to your career and positioning yourself for seniority, thinking is good, overthinking, less so.
If you’re someone who finds speaking up in meetings challenging, and you tend to sit there thinking about when to say something and what to say, then here are some ideas to help you exercise that muscle a little more.
Do your thinking beforehand
Hands up if you’ve ever been to a meeting and tried to wing it, or sat there feeling that you don’t know your stuff properly, because you’ve not prepared as thoroughly as you needed to. Spend some time reading the agenda, and thinking about what’s on it and where you can – or are expected – to contribute.
Do some research
A bit of digging around and researching topics on the agenda where necessary can help you to feel more prepared – what’s the current thinking on the subject? What do you need to know to help you feel more informed? Don’t wait to be supplied with information; use your initiative, ditch the tiara and create your own opportunities to impress.
Form an opinion
Have something to say by considering your take on what’s being presented – do you agree, vehemently disagree, question why certain actions are being taken? Set yourself a time limit for the research and opinion forming and stick to it.
Consider what you don’t know
Asking pertinent questions is a way of speaking up and contributing without having to feel pressured into making clever points if you’re initially unsure of the topic – which happens to us all, especially if you’re new to a role or meeting. And that, dear reader, is one powerful way to make your presence felt. A question that stops everyone in their tracks will be a question that will serve you well. Make it part of your preparation.
Instead of spending ages in your head mulling over what you’re going to say, switch your attention to teh person speaking and really listen to what they’re saying. When you respond, you’ll be responding from the moment, and won’t be missing what’s actually being said. You’ll be able to pick up on the subtleties and nuances that you may miss if you’re grappling with your inner decisions.
The icing on the cake
When you’ve been doing your research, make sure that you keep links of any useful articles, books, ideas, podcasts and so on. As part of your meeting follow up (which you make sure you do, right?) consider what may be useful to share with any meeting attendees. The relationships you may build in this way can help you to feel more relaxed and comfortable enough to speak up more easily.
Meetings can feel challenging and it’s easy to feel out of your depth sometimes. Theses ideas can help you to make your presence felt, and help you position yourself for your next role. And if you’d like some help with this, take a look at the Visible Leadership Programme