5 Ways to Find Your Voice in Today's Meeting
Career Growth

5 Ways to Find Your Voice in Today's Meeting

by Career Contessa
Photos Jenn Anibal | March 23, 2016

THOUGH SIRI WILL TELL YOU THAT SHE'S GENDERLESS, THERE'S A DISTINCTLY FEMALE QUALITY TO HER VOICE. THERE'S A BUSINESS REASON FOR THAT:

People tend to react more positively to female voices. And yet women are less likely to speak up in meetings than men.

In January 2015, Lean In founder Sheryl Sandberg and Wharton business school professor Adam Grant published an op-ed in the New York Times titled "Speaking While Female." The piece outlined multiple verticals of research showing that in the workplace, women speak less, are "manterrupted" more, and have their ideas more closely scrutinized. 

In his book Wired for Speech, Stanford communications professor Clifford Nass wrote that people prefer technology to help us, but we want to still be the boss. In other words: even in tech, the female voice is interpretted as more submissive.  

Well, it's time for a change. It's time to speak up. Here are five ways to chime with confidence in your next meeting. 

KNOW THAT YOUR THOUGHTS ARE WORTH SHARING

We're not talking garden-variety comments that don't contribute to the task or meeting at-hand, but it is important to speak up at least once in a meeting. Otherwise, your colleagues and higher-ups will start to think you have nothing to add. 

The biggest hurdle is speaking up for the first time, and if you're not quite yet read, next time you’re in a meeting and you have an idea, write it down. 

Go home and practice saying that idea out loud in multiple different tones. Find the one that resonates with you, that feels most authentic. Next time you’re in a meeting draw on that at-home experience and be heard!  

Vocal clarity brings vocal confidence.

ANNUNCIATE 

If you’re pitching a business or trying to sell your boss on an idea, you need to be articulate and concise.

Attention to the small details of your speech can actually imbue you with a sense of confidence that you didn’t know you had. Elocution may not be taught in school anymore, but vocal clarity brings vocal confidence. {click to tweet} And nothing derails a confidence train like being asked to speak up or to stop mumbling.

So, work on annunciation, clarifying all of your consonant sounds and varying your vowel length—these small changes can make a significant difference in how you’re heard. 

SPEAK SLOWLY 

There is a difference between being excited about what you’re sharing and rushing through your idea. When you speak too quickly, what you are conveying is that you’re nervous or that what you have to say is not valuable. 

If you’re speaking, hold the room’s attention, slowly and confidently. {click to tweet} If you’re making them wonder whether you believe in what you’re saying, there is a good chance they aren’t going to believe in it either. 

EXPAND YOUR VOCABULARY

We’re reading less. There’s no way around it. However with dropping book sales comes a dropping vocab. One of the best ways to make sure that you’re ever-expanding your word base is to read. This can be as simple as reading a page out loud every night when you get home. It can be any kind of written word, from fiction to newspaper. Not only will this exercise help you practice annunciation, but you’ll start to learn words without even trying. 

If you’re making them wonder whether you believe in what you’re saying, there is a good chance they aren’t going to believe in it either. 

The next time you speak up in a meeting, you’ll find there is much greater fluidity to your speech and you’ll be drawing on a bigger vocabulary base. 

DON'T DISQUALIFY YOURSELF AT THE END OF YOUR STATEMENT

We hear a lot about women apologizing for their answers in advance and how we should nix this from our speech. What we hear less about is discrediting yourself at the end of a statement or an idea. 

This can be as simple as ending a presentation with one of the following colloquialisms: I guess, I don’t know, I think. Make sure that you are ending as strong as you start. Be certain beginning, middle, and end. 

Sometimes when we get to the end of what we say, and it isn’t resonating quite right with a room, we get nervous and qualify. Stick to your guns, even if the room doesn’t agree, you can still sit back down with as much gusto with which you stood up. 

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How do you make sure you speak up in meetings? Any other techniques we missed? 

This article originally appeared on Create + Cultivate.