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How to Get Your Voice Heard in Meetings and Presentations

In a room full of managers, supervisors and colleagues, finding the courage to speak up can be intimidating. Further hindering this grueling task is the unfortunate turn of events with the pandemic. With a majority of meetings being virtual and several quarantining, face time is limited. Communication goes beyond simply talking. When placed in a setting where you may seem inferior, being an active contributor is more than acceptable. Not only is it possible, but it’s what brings you to the center of attention and highlights your strengths. Enough for now about why you should step out of your comfort zone and onto how to reach your full potential!

 

First and foremost comes preparation. Although this is quite obvious, there are several ways to stray from a reasonable amount of preparation. Before important meetings, doing your own research provides a gateway for you to be involved in the conversation. I start by reading through relevant literature and jotting down key notes along the way. The important part is not how much you read, but the range. Be sure to educate yourself on multiple aspects of the topic. This allows you to begin crafting arguments that are supported by evidence. When introducing novel ideas to your colleagues and superiors, evidence is critical in making your point. Without evidence, opinions and arguments are deemed illegitimate.

 

At one end of the spectrum is the lack of preparation, which is clearly an obstacle to being heard by others. However, at the other end, overpreparation can be detrimental as well. While planning a pitch, it is common to write a script. It may seem like you’re just preparing, but in reality, you are creating unreasonable expectations for yourself. A script is meant to be strictly followed. From personal experience, a script limits your ability to be flexible during a presentation. 

 

Flexibility and fluidity are qualities that give the audience a glimpse of your ability to be natural. When following a script, I would constantly be thinking of the exact phrase that I had written next. This not only comes off as unnatural, but if a line is forgotten, it can be difficult to get yourself back on track.

 

Instead of writing a script word-for-word, try making a rough outline of the points you plan to make. This can look different for everyone; it can be anything from bullet points to a web diagram. What matters is that it suits your style and successfully guides you. Creating an outline allows for fluidity during a presentation. Instead of sounding robotic, you portray yourself as relaxed and personable.

 

When meeting someone new, oftentimes, they look for cues as to what an individual’s personality is like. Are they outgoing and genuine, or are they shy and cold? Being personable when speaking up is what draws attention to your ideas. Contributing your ideas in a respectful and enthusiastic, and well-supported manner prevents a room full of superiors from undermining you, but speaking up doesn’t only involve communication on your part.

 

Communication is a two-way street. In order to be heard, one needs to do their fair share of listening. After you have introduced your ideas, ask for feedback from others. What are some suggestions, concerns or comments that they may have? When others are part of the conversation as well, they are more likely to be attentive to your perspective. 

 

All of these are important parts of being heard; however, there is one component that will make or break you during the moment – confidence. Confidence, or the lack thereof, is easily sensed by superiors and colleagues. Keeping this in mind, it is important to believe in your abilities and have a positive outlook on your success. Something I like to do before giving presentations is a power pose. I find an empty room, preferably with a mirror, and pose in a Wonder Woman-like position. This helps me envision myself as a capable and confident individual ready to put forth my best.

 

Although this appears to be silly, it only takes a minute. Give yourself a minute to relax and boost your confidence. With these strategies under your belt, you are ready to take a stand. You are prepared to be heard. So, get out there and show yourself how it’s done!

Dharani Ramaiah is sophomore at the University of Kentucky majoring in Biology and minoring in Neuroscience. During her spare time, Dharani loves working out, reading, and planning outings with her friends. In the future, she hopes to become a physician to make a difference in and beyond her community. Her instagram is @dharani_ramaiah.
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