By Perminus Wainaina
Today for the thousandth time, you were in that meeting where you thought you had a great solution to the complicated solution the team was facing. But you didn’t say a thing. It could have saved the whole situation!
You felt like you had nothing important to add. The director kept asking for more input, but you knew you definitely didn’t want to sound stupid. You made a mistake!
In my years of practicing HR, I have had several people ask me how they can get past the confidence killers to nail the interview questions, get more visible at their work places & proof right their instincts.
Some want to be able to participate in that communication class discussion and express their ideas freely especially situations that require the input of the whole group but are being held back by their conscious selves.
Speaking is inevitable. Your voice defines the value you bring to the organization. When you silence that voice, you minimize your value to the organization.
However, speaking up can be extremely hard especially if you are feeling awkward, want to achieve perfectionism, fear confrontation, feeling introverted or you just lack confidence.
In those cases, it first helps to figure out which of your assumptions are preventing you from contributing to the discussion.
Common reasons why you probably fear speaking in public:
1. “It won’t matter if I don’t offer my ideas.
They already have a lot to think about. My ideas are not important”: The mistake most Kenyan professionals make, is treating professional meetings as a performance. You feel like you don’t want to appear incompetent in front of people who will judge you and have a say in your career.
2. “Everything else has been said”:
You held back from airing the point you had so your next coworker aired it instead. Imagine seeing yourself from another coworker’s point of view.
Even if you have the best ideas, someone who doesn’t know you will reasonably assume you don’t have any ideas as long as you don’t share them.
3. “The issue is not in the scope of my ability/my job”:
Your submission and respect causes you to become invisible in the meeting. When no one knows you, they don’t know what you can do.
You allow yourself a pass on important questions in work meetings when you say you are not able to make a judgment due to the scope of your ability.
How to overcome that fear of public speaking
1. Avoid censoring or holding yourself back.
Always commit yourself to expressing at least one idea that pops into your head at each of the meetings that you shall be attending. Name ‘Kenyatta Avenue’ if it’s the answer that first popped into your head when the question was asked. Do not hold back!
Allow yourself some room to look jumpy and avoid the self-prejudgment ideas. Being wrong makes part of the discussion. After all there is no wrong answer that is empty.
Once this becomes a habit, your ability to jump into a conversation without first preparing will overcome any lingering fears of saying the wrong thing.
2. Do your Homework well
There is nothing as embarrassing as heading into the meeting room empty headed with no idea on the topic of discussion.
This is where all the fear of saying the wrong thing generates from, the lack of confidence and the worry of being awkward and wrong.
The better prepared you are, the easier it will be to participate. You can even ask for the meeting agenda prior or put yourself in the agenda if you have particular issue you want to air.
Make sure you always speak up earlier before someone else shares your idea.
3. Don’t give your power away so fast.
It’s common in meetings to feel intellectually bullied by an aggressive boss or someone that intimidates you. In the process, you might be giving your power away.
See, you can only avoid this when you learn to leverage great opportunities. Shine!
Reveal yourself as an impact player in the organization. That’s why you are there otherwise the second best interviewee could have taken your place but No. They didn’t. You were chosen.
Champion yourself by acknowledging that what you bring to the table is as valid as any other contribution.
Must Read >>> Top 5 Signs You Need a Career Coach
4. See it as a meeting conversation not a performance
Imagine yourself having a talk with a friend. What would you tell them? How would you engage them with your ideas to keep them captivated and interested in what you a saying?
5. Anticipate the questions you might be asked
Professionals end up feeling anxious and being terrible at speaking in meetings because of the fear of confrontation and worries on which answer to give back. Understanding your contribution will enable you anticipate the questions that others may ask.
Don’t ever be caught off guard as it portrays you in bad light as not knowing what you are talking about or not having confidence in yourself. Whether they will ask questions or not, always be prepared to give an answer.
After the above insights, I’m pretty sure you won’t be quiet the next time your boss if fishing for new ideas.
Are you still feeling reluctant to initiate those starter conversations prior to the main agenda? Even if you are introverted, you can experience greater fulfillment at work by improving your interactive self. Through career coaching, you can easily overcome your fear of public speaking and get ahead in your career.