Afraid of speaking up in a meeting? This is what you could do!

One of my clients has trouble speaking up in meetings she frequently has to attend. She has no problem speaking up when she’s asked a question but she has this big fear of talking spontaneous in a room with her seniors. Fear of saying something stupid, fear of being exposed of not being competent. It got so bad her boss, the CEO of the company said: we want to hear your voice. Your predecessor talked so much during the meeting, sometimes we had to tell her to shut up. So please speak up we will tell you when you talk too much.

My clients boss meant well. He tried to tell her it’s more damaging to your career if your seniors or your future customers think you don’t have any ideas or you don’t care. Unfortunately by comparing her to her predecessor he made things worse. She was already feeling inadequate and comparing herself to others all the time. Unintentionally he confirmed her feelings of inferiority and of being a fraud. After this talk my client looked for somebody outside the organization to help her dealing with this situation. She found me.

Motivation is about choosing the right wording. He would have motivated her if he had said: “ I really appreciate all the hard work you do. You have been appointed to this position because of your great analysing skills and in-depth knowledge. It would be so valuable to all of us if you share your thoughts with us. Next week will be discussing topic A prepare for this, I will ask you some questions about this topic the next meeting. I am convinced you will add value to discussion.”

Since the CEO was not being very successful in motivating my client. I advised her to ask him for help. She told him: “If you really believe I add value to the discussion, you would really help me by asking me questions during the meeting. I could prepare an item on the agenda and you will ask me to comment.”

This worked out perfect. The CEO was honest about wanting to hear her voice. This really motivated her. She could make use of her great analysing skills and came in to the meeting better prepared than anyone else in there. This made her feel competent, self-assured, ready to answer any question on the subject and weigh in on the discussion.

Do you find it difficult to weigh in discussions? Have you found a way to overcome your fears? Please share by commenting below

Debbie is founder of FlipYourScript. We train leaders to thrive at the top.