There appear to be two types of people in the world: those who hate speaking up at business meetings, and those who revel in the opportunity to make their voices heard. Believe it or not, whichever camp you belong to, you can still make a great impression in every single business meeting, even if you consider yourself exceptionally shy.
If you want your career to grow and evolve, you need to find ways to share your ideas with your colleagues and superiors. If you don’t feel like you have any ideas to bring to the table, consider that it’s probably your confidence getting in the way of you speaking up, rather than a lack of creativity. Remember: you got this job for a reason, and being shy doesn’t mean you should be invisible.
To help you make an impact at work and get the recognition you deserve, here are three tips to help you overcome your shyness in every business meeting.
Show Up Early
This advice is two-fold. Firstly, you need to allow yourself enough time to prepare before a business meeting, so actually showing up early can help quell your nerves and make you feel more in control. Secondly, speaking up early on in the meeting cuts the fear of speaking off at the source before it becomes paralyzing.
If you’ve been to a few of these meetings, you’ll know that the further the conversation progresses, the harder it is to pitch in, so aim to speak up within the first 10-15 minutes. If nothing else, doing this will take the focus off you for the rest of the meeting, and you won’t leave feeling embarrassed that you had nothing to say.
Public speaking is nerve-wracking for all of us, but it can feel almost unbearable for some. If you know that public speaking isn’t your forte, then make the most of slideshows and presentation software to get your point across. That way, all eyes will be on the screen, and your commentary will feel less pressurized because you’ll have visual prompts.
Make sure your presentation is eye-catching, informative, and that it gets your point across quickly. If you provide important information in a visually stunning way, then that’s what people will remember – not that you stammered while talking or how red your cheeks went.
Challenge Your Leadership Skills
Although there are plenty of things you can do to make business meetings easier on yourself (staying silent being the most comfortable, but not necessarily the most effective), sooner or later you’re going to need to challenge your beliefs about speaking up. Do you have self-confidence issues or feel you lack leadership skills? Are you too worried about what others think, or do you just consider yourself a poor verbal communicator?
Whatever the problem is, it’s not permanent – there are plenty of workshops, tutorials and even online courses you can take to nudge you towards self-improvement. Let your boss know that you’re aware that speaking in business meetings isn’t your strong suit, but you’re committed to improving your skills. He or she will be impressed by your initiative and drive, as well as your self-awareness – and that counts for a lot.