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10 Ways to be More Confident in Meetings

For some people, meetings at work are challenging. Some people have opinions and ideas, but they lack the confidence to speak up in meetings. To get ahead at work, though, you need to get yourself noticed. So, being a silent observer in meetings can hinder your career progression. You don't need to dominate a meeting to make a valuable contribution. You can make your presence felt in other ways. Here are ten tips on how to be more of a team player at meetings.

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1. Prepare for Meetings

Don't go into meetings unprepared. A lack of preparation will only make your nerves worse. Read the agenda before a meeting and decide on which topics you will contribute to during the discussion. Preparing in advance will allow you to make sure that you have all your facts right. That will help give you more confidence when you speak.

2. Arrive Early

For some people, it is the formality of meetings that makes them anxious. They can talk to the people at the meeting in an informal conversation. But they stay quiet once the session has begun. If you arrive early to meetings, you will be able to ease yourself into the situation. You will have the opportunity to chat with attendees before the formal meeting begins.

3. Plan on Speaking Early

The longer you stay silent in a meeting, the more difficult it will become to speak up. So, aim to say something early in the meeting so that you can ease your way into the conversation. You might only say that you agree with someone else's comment. Even so, saying something early in the meeting will give you more confidence to speak up later.

4. Don't Over-think Everything You Want to Say

Meetings often move from one topic to the next very fast. You don't have time to analyze what you are about to say before you say it. If you try to consider each comment you want to make too much, you will have missed your opportunity to speak. If you were chatting to a friend, you wouldn't double-think everything you are about to say. Do the same when you attend meetings. Don't over-think everything that you want to say.

5. Ask Questions

One of the easiest ways to become an active participant in meetings is to ask questions. Questions will elicit an answer, from which a natural two-way conversation can follow. You can ask someone to expand on a point they have made, for example. Asking questions will make you feel more involved in the conversation. But it won't put you under too much pressure.

6. Don't Fear Debate

Meetings are a conversation. They are an exchange of ideas and opinions. As is the case in any discussion, some people will have opinions and ideas that differ from your own. Even so, don't be afraid to speak up because you don't want to risk people disagreeing with you. A debate is a sign of a productive meeting. If everyone had the same ideas and opinions, there would be no need to hold a meeting.

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7. Speak When You Want to Speak

Don't wait until you have something of vital importance to say at meetings. Instead, speak up when you have something to say, even it may seem somewhat trivial to you. Your input doesn't need to be a revolutionary idea or a grand announcement. It only needs to be a helpful contribution to the discussion.

8. Don't Be Intimidated by Power

If you get invited to attend a meeting, it is because people value your opinion. So, don't feel that you must defer to your bosses or co-workers who hold more senior positions than you. You can disagree with a senior team member and still be respectful. An excellent senior manager will respect you for voicing your opinion, even if they don't agree with you.

9. Don't Assume That You Are Wrong

Don't assume that if someone disagrees with you, it must be you that is wrong. If you are confident about your facts, speak up when you disagree with someone. Your thoughts and ideas are as valuable as anyone else's.

10. Try to Be the First to Speak on Each Topic Raised

As the conversation moves from one topic to the next, try to be one of the first to speak on each topic. Getting your point of view across first will give less time for self-doubt to creep in. You don't want to talk for the sake of saying something. But, if you do have something to contribute, you will find it easier to speak if you are one of the first to talk about a topic.

If you lack the confidence to speak up at meetings, you can tackle your lack of confidence in small steps. To begin with, set yourself a target of speaking once in a meeting. Then, increase your input from there. Once you have got over the first hurdle, your confidence will grow. It won't be long before you are contributing your ideas and opinions at every meeting you attend.

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