The Guardian money feature 'Dear Jeremy' regularly publishes career-related questions and concerns from readers. Recently the feature included one reader's problem about being listened to and respected in meeting scenarios:
"My contributions at meetings – formal, informal, by email or telephone – are always ignored... This is sapping my confidence and self-esteem, and probably the way I present whatever it is I would like to say. I am also aware that I am not a particularly assertive person. Can you give me some handy hints on how best to make effective contributions to meetings?...I sense that people switch off to what I am saying."
We asked RADA in Business tutor Claire Dale how she would answer the reader's problem:
When leading the RADA in Business Personal Impact in Meetings courses, I meet and train a lot of people on our courses who struggle with these concerns. There are some straightforward techniques you can use to increase your impact in meetings.
- You say you don't feel you are a particularly assertive person. To enhance your sense of gravitas when you contribute, ensure you are sitting up straight, speak slowly and clearly so that you have time to think. Breathe in deeply enough to reach the end of your phrase - the more impact your speech has, you should find your ideas land more forcefully
- Even if the chair has invited you to make your point, don't just talk to them, or one or two others, engage everyone around the table. Use eye contact and turn your body to face different members of the meeting as you speak, so they are all involved in what you're saying making your comment much harder to ignore or brush over
- Before you speak, think about your key point, and think about what the aim of your point is - are your trying to persuade the meeting of something, reassure them, or even energise them? Make sure the tone of your voice fits your purpose. If you're certain of what you're trying to achieve, it will help to connect with your audience.
The golden rule is think, breathe, speak - take your time, use your body and voice and you'll be able to make your impact more effectively.
Click here for more information about Personal Impact in Meetings.