Monday, March 28, 2011

How to Have Your Voice Heard in Meetings

Isn’t it interesting how, when many people are in meetings, they shut down and yet in social situations, they are able to chat away about any topic brought to the table?

I have found, over many years of coaching clients to get ahead in their careers, that three little voices, that pop up in our heads, are the main causes of this fear. I think these thoughts can be summed up here:

- ‘What if… I say something stupid?’
- ‘What if… I say the wrong thing?’
- ‘What if… people think I’m an idiot?’

The reality is, no-one in any meeting will ever have the absolute truth to offer up. Because truth does not exist. All any of us has in a meeting is an opinion.

Even when it comes to statistics (apparently factual, black and white data), two people can skew the numbers to suit their own perspectives and support their points - and therefore have different opinions.

So if you struggle to voice your opinion in meetings, here are some tips to help you make a solid first impression:

1. Spend time thinking about the meeting. Consider the agenda. Who will be there and what might their agendas might be? Think about areas where you are already knowledgeable. Think about the questions you might ask. The stats or facts you could offer.

2. Assess where the Energy Centre is. What on earth am I banging on about, ‘energy centre‘?? There are always people in a room where the energy naturally gravitates. Who are they? Is it the CEO? A client? A Partner? Sit near them. The conversation will naturally centre around them and it is much easier to add your opinion if you are nearby than from the other end of a 12-seater table.

3. Make a point early in the conversation and lean forwards as you speak. It will give your point some added weight and naturally bring you into the conversation.

4. The most important tip of all is: to start. The longer you allow your voice to go unheard in meetings, the harder it will be to build credibility in the group.

If you’d like some help to increase your confidence in meeting environments, speak to Rebecca.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

A Simple Tip to Influence Those Around You

I went to a fantastic networking event this morning hosted by Kim McGuinness (Network Central). One of the speakers, Mariette Rups Donnelly, was presenting on the topic of 'presence'.

What an interesting subject this is! To get ahead we must each be seen and heard and of course, there are good ways and not so good ways to achieve this.

Many women whom I coach express concern that 'presence' could be misconstrued by others as downright 'arrogance' - certainly this extreme way of being seen is something most people would wish to avoid.

There are a number of techniques to help you establish greater presence in your meetings, with your clients, and around people 'who matter' - and I'd love to share one of Mariette's today.

Mariette explained that to have presence requires you to be present.

This is simple yet highly thought provoking.

Being present implies you are behaving actively. You are consciously making the effort to connect with the people around you and listening (not just hearing) what they have to say.

To raise your profile, a simple action you could take is to work on living in the moment. And giving your full attention.

And one thing that I have certainly learnt: it is much easier to share your view and be heard once your counterpart genuinely feels that you have listened to all they have to say first!

What are your experiences?

- RW

Monday, March 7, 2011

Do You Feel Intimidated By Confident Women?

An illuminating psychological study, conducted by child behaviouralist Deborah Tannen, revealed some noticeable differences between young girls and boys. In summary, the research found that little boys tend to regard confident, alpha boys as ‘leaders’ whereas little girls tend to see confident, alpha girls as ‘bossy’.

Isn’t that a fascinating perceptual difference?

‘Confidence’ to boys is seen as a strength; being self-assertive is a skill to aspire to have. Girls, on the other hand, seem to find confidence in their own kind a real turn off and, from what this research implies, a negative way to be perceived by others.

The media continues to be saturated with comment about blatant gender imbalance in the workplace. You have probably seen some of the statistics: at senior management level women represent only 30% of roles in Australia; women hold fewer than 5% of senior executive positions; across the board, women earn 18% less than men...

The blame is often placed on ‘antiquated organisational structures’ and the view that ‘men only promote other men'.

Could it be possible however, that this imbalance is partly due to the fact that women halt their own progression for fear of what other people, particularly other women, might think of them?

If any of this rings true, here are some tips to overcome this perceived obstacle:

1. Acknowledge that there is a big difference between ‘assertion’ and ‘arrogance’ - when we are confident in an assertive way, we demonstrate leadership. We take charge whilst taking other people into account. People who behave with arrogance make poor leaders. They trample over others and in turn alienate them. Note: arrogance is often an indication that the individual is struggling internally with a lack of confidence.

2. It is essential to be authentic and find a tone of voice that best suits you and your personal brand. If you want to find out more about 'personal branding' join us on our teleseminars and workshops!

3. Seek out the strengths of your work first, before scouring it for weaknesses. All too often we women pinpoint the one thing that is out of place, rather than acknowledging all the 534 things that are not!

4. Avoid mind-reading at all costs... unless you ask, you won't know for sure what anyone else thinks of you.

If we women assert ourselves, actively self-promote our value and behave with a confident air we will inadvertently win the respect of others.

For surely, the real reason why so many little girls, and grown women alike, sneer at the confident women around them, is because they secretly wish they could have the nerve to act that confidently themselves.

What are your thoughts?

- RW