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Not the Loudest Person in the Room?

Angie Morgan, July 30, 2018

We have a range of talents on Team Lead Star.  We all fancy ourselves as performers, of sorts, when we’re facilitating learning sessions.  Yet, only one of us has truly performed in theater, Ben Whiting.  
Ben and I were developing curriculum recently for a course designed to help executives project a “command presence,” and one thing Ben offered from his training struck a chord with me:
“It’s not the loudest voice in a room that gets heard.  It’s the clearest.”
This resonated with me, as I’m never the loudest person in a room, and I don’t have a big, booming voice. But, I do have a voice and I want to be heard.  
On the road, I’ve met many leaders like me – they may never be the life of a party, or own the room just by their presence.  But they have opinions, thoughts, and ideas that, when heard, add value to conversations, as well as improve decisions before they’re made.  
If this sounds at all like you, here are a few things you can do to ensure your voice is heard:

  • Be Prepared.  Before meetings, review agendas, do research, know the topic that you’re going to be discussing inside and out.  Form opinions and thoughts independent of group think.  Ensure you’re ready to contribute when the time is right.
  • Lean In.  Don’t sit back and wait to be called on.  Lean forward, lean in, to discussions so that you appear engaged.  Our nonverbal communicate more than our words, so make sure you’re sending the right signals.
  • Develop Interjections.  Have a handful of phrases ready that you can use to insert your thoughts/ideas.  Simple phrases such as:
    • I’d like to add to the conversation …
    • Perhaps we can look at this from this view …
    • I have a point that might run counter, but could be considered …
    • Here’s a thought I have…

Sometimes a conversation is like jump rope … you have to find the right moment to get in the game and, when the time is right, don’t hesitate.

  • Assert Yourself.  In discussions, conversations rarely pause for a new idea to enter.  Use your interjections to insert your thoughts/ideas into the conversation. Don’t wait your turn.   It may never come.
  • Comment Before Wrap Up.  If you haven’t had a chance to contribute before the meeting or conversation wraps up, don’t let the dialogue close before you’re done offering up what you have to say.  Often a simple, “Hey, before I leave, I wanted to make a few points …” can at least allow you to offer your opinions before others move on from the topic.

Being clear, when you can’t – or choose not to be – loud, takes time and practice.  With a small amount of effort, you can begin to speak up, share, and add value to conversations in ways that might even surprise you.
PS:  If you’re running meetings, make space for the quietest person in the room to contribute. They might have a winning idea that they may not have developed the courage to express. 

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