As women, we often find it hard to get a word through in meetings. We are often put on the defensive and cannot get our ideas out. We are often left to defend our qualifications and explain why we belong there. You have a voice that needs to be heard, so how do we ensure our voices are heard?

There is no straight answer to this, and it needs to be kept in mind that it shouldn’t only be left up to women to ensure that we are given an equal spot at the table. We aren’t the ones who caused this inequality, so it shouldn’t rest solely on us to fix it. But there are still things that we can do to help our voices be heard.

Prepare in Advance 

Prepare for each meeting. Understand what the goals of the meeting are. What is the intended outcome, and what are the main talking points? Next, think about your role at the meeting and consider what you might offer. Are you there to lead? Are you an expert in a particular area? Everyone has a vital role in a team; make sure you know yours. And finally, practice what you want to say in advance to be brief and sound confident.

Be Succinct

Be succinct in what you say. Don’t try to over-explain because that is how you also lose people’s interest. Over-explaining can also lead to people misunderstanding what you’re trying to say. Just remember, everyone has something to offer, and that includes you. If you get nervous, take a breath and take a drink of water to settle your nerves. You want to look confident so that people will listen.

Have the courage to speak up, even if it’s just to ask a question. Many people focus on saying something brilliant that will blow people away. Often this will backfire. Asking questions will establish your presence just as well. Don’t be hard on yourself if it doesn’t go as expected. You are learning. If you are struggling with step one and can’t plan in advance, speak up by asking questions. You will get better the more you speak at meetings. 

Have an Ally

Have an ally to support you in the meeting. At Achieve we strongly believe in having a success squad. People who are there to cheer you on and support you. If you can, talk to someone you are comfortable with, they can be a person that helps you during the meeting. Make sure they know your plan of what to plan to speak about. If you get stuck or tongue-tied, they can help offer information to bring you back to your speaking point. It also will make you feel more at ease to have someone you think is in your corner and rooting for you.

Meetings at work present great opportunities to showcase your talent. Do not let them go to waste.

– Abhishek Ratna