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How to Speak Up in Meetings – Effective Strategies To Speak With Confidence

If you find it hard to speak up in meetings, you’re not alone. For many non-native English speakers, speaking up in a work meeting is nerve-wracking. And it can also be so for native-English speakers.

Many of our learners ask us how to speak better English so they feel more confident in meetings. Sometimes, it’s a matter of preparation and practice.

In this new Talaera Talks episode, you will learn to speak up more confidently in meetings with effective strategies. We also discuss why speaking up is important and when to hold back. Listen to the episode, check out the notes, and the transcript below.

What does it mean “to speak up”?

business meeting speak up

To speak up means to express your opinion and say what you think. Usually, we use “to speak up” when we talk about voicing an opinion or raising a difficult topic in a conversation. In a meeting, if you have an idea or you disagree, you should speak up with confidence.

Examples:

  • If you disagree, please speak up.
  • It can be scary to speak up in a meeting with native-English speakers.

The other meaning of this phrasal verb is to speak louder so that others can hear you well.

Examples:

  • Could you speak up? We can’t hear you at the back.
  • Sorry, I can’t hear you. Can you please speak up?

Why is it difficult to speak up in meetings?

difficult to speak up in meetings

Speaking up in meetings can be terrifying for many non-native English speakers. It may have to do with learning how to speak English. But not always. You may speak perfect English and still lack the confidence to express your opinion in a group of people. But why is that? These are some of the most common reasons.

  • Anxiety. Many people suffer from anxiety to speak in public. They second guess themselves and end up asking questions like, ‘Am I the right person to speak on this topic?’ ‘Can I interrupt a senior colleague?’ ‘What if my idea isn’t great?’
  • Personality. Some personalities do better than others in spoken, group discussions. Introverts, on the other hand, tend to need quiet time to gather and articulate their thoughts. They may also be very analytical and overthink to the point of self-censorship.
  • Lack of practice. If you haven’t practiced interacting in meetings, it may feel uncomfortable at the beginning.
  • Cultural differences. Different cultures tend to interact differently. More direct and assertive cultures often interrupt each other and voice their opinions easily. Other more indirect countries prefer to take turns and wait to share their opinions until they are asked. If you are from the latter, you will find it harder to speak up in meetings.
  • Fear of being excluded or embarrassed. 
  • Politics and team dynamics. Also a culturally-dependent stance. If in your culture, interrupting a senior colleague is not accepted, you will likely refrain from speaking when they are saying something, even if they are from a culture where it is totally acceptable.
  • Gender differences. In a recent survey of 1,100 U.S. working adults by Catalyst, they found that 45% of female business leaders say it’s difficult for them to speak up in virtual meetings. Traditionally speaking, women have been socially conditioned to be less assertive, and those who do speak up are more likely to be seen as “difficult” to work with.

When to speak up and when to hold back

Speak up meaning

Speaking up in meetings is important. It enhances our self-worth, fosters innovation and collaboration, and creates a more connected working environment. As young professionals, we often speak for the sake of speaking. We like to show off and prove we have ideas. But before you learn how to speak up in meetings, it is important to know when. How can you know if it’s the right time to speak up or if you should hold back?

When to hold back

  • Don’t speak up to show off. A meeting is not a competition; it’s a collaboration.
  • Don’t speak up if the comment is just relevant to one person.
  • If it’s a tricky or sensitive topic, consider saving your comment for a private discussion.
  • If you’d like to ask for advice on a topic that only you care about, it may make more sense to hold back.

When to speak up

  • Speak up if your comment is relevant to the group (or, at least, to several participants).
  • Speak up if you are in a brainstorming session and you have an idea.
  • If you are part of a conversation and you disagree with something.
  • If you have an idea that could spark a further discussion on an important topic.

How to speak up in meetings

virtual meeting

Prepare and practice

If you lack the confidence to speak up in meetings, lean on two basics: prepare and practice. Check out the agenda, look at the different talking points, and write down ideas you would like to ask or talk about. Don’t write everything down. Instead, use bullet points and think about the vocabulary that you think may be tricky. Jot down keywords that could help you in a moment of tension or anxiety, and have the notes at your fingertips throughout the meeting.

Perhaps you know how to speak English properly, but when you have to interact with a group, you get nervous and your mind goes blank. Working on what you may be talking during the meeting will help you know how to talk in meetings with confidence.

Shift your mindset

Turn your self-doubt into confidence. Go from “I shouldn’t be sharing this idea” to “Of course, I should”. If you ever feel that it’s not your place to speak up, think about the reason you were invited. Chances are, they value your opinion and they want to hear your ideas. If they invited you to the meeting, silence is really not in the best interest of the team.

If you feel like you should not speak up because your idea is not fully developed, think that it could be of inspiration to others.

  • “It’s probably not my place to speak up.” → “If they invited me, they probably value my opinion and want to hear my ideas.”
  • “My idea is incomplete.” → “My idea could inspire others.”

Take action to build confidence

Take action to build confidence. Not the other way around. Speak up early to build your momentum. Many people think that they first have to build the confidence first to be able to speak up. But in their book The Confidence Code, Katty Kay and Claire Shipman report that research repeatedly shows that taking action builds confidence. So don’t wait until you feel fully ready. Take action quickly, without overthinking, and confidence will come with it.

Follow the ABC of speaking up in meetings

  • A – Attention
  • B – Breath
  • C – Communication

Once you’ve built the confidence to speak up, follow these quick steps. The first one is to pay Attention to what others are saying. Actively listen before you speak. Be present. This first step is not only good communication etiquette, it’s also going to help you know what to say and whom to address. As a non-native speaker, listen to the words and expressions that the other participants say and use them yourself. This is (1) great vocabulary that you can use and (2) a simple way of becoming more likable by mimicking or mirroring what others say.

The second step is to Breathe. Breathing will make you more confident. Taking deep breaths will help you regulate your nervous system. Controlled breathing will also help you with your voice. Usually, when we get nervous, we breathe and start speaking when we are inhaling (taking the air in). When you do this, you end up feeling short of breath and fatigued, and your voice sounds more insecure. Instead, inhale, take your time, and only when you start to exhale should you start to speak.

And the last step is to start Communicating your ideas. Pick some of the next six strategies to participate in meetings with confidence.

Ask open-ended questions

Asking good questions is an underrated skill that has the power to improve your professional and personal life. Asking questions in meetings is a great way to speak up in a more collaborative way. In general, open-ended questions (those that start with what, why, where, how, who, or when) work better than close-ended questions (those that can be answered with yes or no).

If you disagree with a statement, instead of saying “I totally disagree. Plan A is a bad idea,” you can try “What do you all think about this other Plan B?” You are voicing your opinion but also opening up the discussion and encouraging others to weigh in. Open-ended questions are less threatening and more collaborative.

  • What are your thoughts about…?
  • How would you feel about…?
  • Why would you choose that option?
  • When do you think this would be ready? Because I’m thinking…

Make it personal but avoid weak words

Make it personal by sharing your opinion and experience, but sound confident by avoiding weak words like maybe, perhaps, just, or possibly.

  • “This is just an idea, but…” → “Of the options we have, we’ve seen that the one that makes sense is…”
  • “Maybe we should…” → “In my experience, this option works best.”

Other great phrases you can use:

  • A trend I’m noticing is…
  • Here’s what I know…
  • What’s important here is…
  • My experience tells me…
  • In my experience, I’ve found that…

Use the PREP framework

PREP = Point, Reason, Evidence, Point.

Frame your comments using the PREP technique, where you start by simply making your point (what idea do you want to get across?), then giving the reason (why do you think so?), sharing some evidence (what proves that this has worked in the past? How can you showcase your idea?), and restate your point once again.

Compliment what someone else said

Another great way to speak up is to back up the idea of another person in the meeting. Compliment what they said and then add to it.

  • Oh, that’s a great point. And it reminds me of this other point… 
  • I loved what you said about this thing. And that ties back to this other thing that I want to talk about. 
  • Oh, good point. And related to that, the trend I’m seeing is…

This technique helps you build rapport with the other participants, it draws attention to what you’re saying (who doesn’t like to get some kudos?), and allows you to ease in into your comment.

To disagree, offer solutions

While culture, personality, and context play an important role in assertiveness and in how we all disagree, having opposing ideas is totally fine. We all have different ways of looking at things and speaking up is what drives innovation and gives life to great ideas. But how do you do it in a constructive way?

Offer solutions. If you plan to disagree, offer an alternative solution or, at least, add some suggestions. Don’t just try to disagree with the intent to insult but to support. Provide the reason why you don’t agree and add a recommendation or some advice.

Another great way to disagree or educate people without offending anyone is to talk in general terms. Instead of making it specific about a person or a project, explain a situation when something similar happened and what you did to solve it.

  • Generally speaking, when we come up with an issue like this, this is what tends to work.
  • When something similar happened in the past, this is what we did.
  • What I’ve noticed when this happened in the past with other people is that this other thing worked really well.

Keep Improving Your Communication Skills for the Workplace

Remember the benefits of speaking up in meetings. If you wish to increase your confidence speaking English at work, get in touch with Talaera. Work with a teacher 1:1 on how to speak effectively in meetings. We will help you take your professional English communication skills to the next level.

Continue improving your communication skills for professional situations with our free resources.

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Talaera Talks – Transcript Episode 60

This article works as supporting material for our podcast episode 60. You can read the transcript below. Make sure you check out all our other Talaera Talks episodes and subscribe to get new episode alerts. Listen to the episode on your favorite platform.

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Intro
Welcome to Talaera Talks, the business English communication podcast for non-native professionals. My name is Paola and I am co-hosting this show with Simon. In this podcast, we’re going to be covering communication advice and tips to help express yourself with confidence in English in professional settings. So we hope you enjoy the show!

Simon Kennell 0:24
Welcome back, everyone to another Talaera Talks episode. Wherever you are, I hope you are doing well as always. It’s a wonderful, bright sunny Friday here in Copenhagen, Denmark, and I am joined, as always by my awesome, co-host Paola. Paola, how are you doing?

Paola Pascual 0:45
Hi, Simon doing great. Riding this heat wave we have here in Spain at the moment, but today’s supposed to be the worst day in terms of temperatures. And then it seems to calm down a bit. So I’m looking forward to that.

Simon Kennell 0:59
So so i You are what I would call weather spoiled, which is that you say it’s the worst day of the heat. It’s too much. But for us in Denmark, like any type of heat temperature, like high heat temperature, that’s like the best day, you know, like the best day for us is, I don’t know, maybe maybe 30 once a year, and then it’s a national holiday. And we all get excited. And people wear shorts, which you just don’t say I’m wearing shorts today. Like this is incredible. Wow. Yeah, this is very a big day for us. So, you know, as much as we can get in the heat. We’re excited. And yeah, I’m just I’m jealous of you down there next to the beach.

Paola Pascual 1:44
I can’t complain. I can’t complain. It just does get too much. You were you were saying you’re wearing shorts today. Here. It’s you don’t have another option? Either wear shorts, or that’s it. There’s no way you can wear long ones. But yeah. Awesome. So what’s what’s been going on with you, Simon? Any any updates?

Simon Kennell 2:03
Yeah, so we got, it’s, I mean, it’s crazy how time is just flying this year, and we have so many things going on. I mean, probably one of the biggest things that we’re getting kind of geared up for as a team is our team retreat, which is coming up in September. And for those of you listening, like Paola and I have never met in person. So I don’t know. Like, I don’t know, if you’re, like taller than me. Or if we’re the same height or the it’s gonna be I don’t know what to expect that we’ve, we’ve done so many of these podcasts together and worked together for almost like two years now. And we haven’t met in person. And finally, we’re gonna meet in person.

Paola Pascual 2:47
We are. I’m so excited about it. Yeah, how tall we all are, how we move and how we interact in person. I don’t know if I’ll be able to do it without a screen in between, but I guess we’ll have to find out.

Simon Kennell 2:58
It’s a weird, like, I don’t think my mother thought I had a real job for like the first six months. She’s like, you don’t just work from home and mom, I do I work remotely. She goes, No, you need to like you don’t you haven’t met your colleagues in person. That’s not real. And like, yeah, it’s really. We’re just in the matrix anyway. So it’s fine.

Paola Pascual 3:20
It’s real, it’s real. I know. I know. Awesome. So yeah, I’m super excited about that. We’ll record an episode together, we’ll uploaded, we’ll keep everyone posted. So stay tuned. In terms of today’s episode, what do we have for today, Simon?

Simon Kennell 3:35
Yeah, today is something that we’ve heard a lot. Just in general, when we talk about confidence, and it’s really difficult, I think, just commonly in your second language to speak up, right? And what does that mean to speak up during a conversation? And we hear this all the time from people that say, I, I just when I’m in a meeting, whether it’s a Zoom meeting or in person, it’s difficult for me to speak up, you know, in that meeting. And so this is what we’re going to be covering today. How can you do it, and we actually have a really good strategy. But when we talk about speaking up, what does that mean, Paola?

Paola Pascual 4:20
Right, so to speak up or to speak up in a meeting means to voice your opinion, like to voice your opinions to really say what you think. Sometimes it’s also when you don’t agree with something you want to speak up means you want to share those ideas. So yeah, we’re going to see how we can do that in a polite way in a meeting. But there are some reasons why I feel like I would love to speak up and then I can’t, right? And I think one of them for anyone, but especially if you’re communicating in a second language or third language, that is anxiety. Right? We have a lot of people voices within our head that say, okay, am I the right person to speak on this topic? Or can I interrupt a senior colleague? Or what if my idea isn’t great. And so we get caught up on this anxiety that doesn’t allow us to, to speak up, which is what we want to do.

Simon Kennell 5:16
Yeah, there’s and this is really it goes back to this ancestral idea, which is like when we were in a tribe, right? When we were in the small tribes, one of the biggest risks was speaking in front of the whole tribe of giving your idea because you’re being judged by this group that you depend on, right. And so this automatic kind of fear comes in of what if I get kicked out of the tribe? You know, and it goes all the way back to that, which is amazing to think about is that’s where this fear impulse comes from. Right? What if my idea isn’t great, right? What if I’m judged because of this? And if we’re not very confident in our English, then this is, you know, this comes number one to us, right? I just had, one of our clients just told me that for the first time, he he stood up in a big meeting with senior executives and felt comfortable and enjoyed it, and could could just go with it and really appreciated that. And I was like, Wow, that’s amazing, right to enjoy that same kind of that same kind of sense. So, so yeah. So there’s the anxiety. There’s also the personality aspect, right? So like, everybody talks about introvert versus extrovert, and how does that play in?

Paola Pascual 6:42
Right? So I mean, this is just a very broad spectrum, right? When we talk about I’m an introvert, I’m an extrovert. But usually introverts are people who need often need quiet time to gather information, you know, to gather their thoughts to form their ideas to articulate all those messages that they want to speak up about. They tend to be more analytical, they, they tend to overthink as well. And I identify a lot with introverts, I think I’m more of an ambivert. So you when you have a little bit of both, but I do definitely relate to that. And that that is not a bad thing. To be an introvert, it’s totally fine. But it can definitely hinder your ability to speak up when you’re in a meeting. So you know, that’s just one of the things like your personality, there’s nothing wrong with it, but just be aware of how that plays into the whole team or meeting dynamics. So yeah, we talked about anxiety, personality, the fear of being excluded or embarrassed. Well, there may be other there may be other reasons. Do you have any other thoughts, Simon?

Simon Kennell 7:52
Yeah, I think it’s the lack of practice, right of like, that’s a good one. A lot of people kind of feel like, I need my notes. I hear this all the time, I need my notes, or I need my list of things. And if, if I don’t practice these things, then I’m not going to be ready. Right. And so we hear that a lot. And that’s something we’ve talked about before with our presentations discussion on how to do that. And so we’re going to, we’re going to discuss these and talk about this. So we’ve talked about why we don’t speak up in meetings. But really, when it comes to overcoming this, you know, there’s some really specific things that we can do. Right?

Paola Pascual 8:28
Right, exactly. So first, you need to overcome the fear. That’s the first part. And then we’ll talk about okay, when do you actually speak up? When not when should you not speak up? And then how do you actually do it. But if one of your problems is your fear, the best strategy that you can follow is to prepare and practice those are two basics. So how do you prepare, go look at the agenda, look at the different points that you’re going to cover, or that are going to be covered, and write down bullet points of ideas that you would like to ask or speak about. And think about the vocabulary that you think may be tricky. So here, you don’t have to write everything down. But do write keywords that may then help you with, you know, with your speech when you’re in a moment where you might feel a little bit nervous.

Simon Kennell 9:19
Yeah, yeah. And also, and also like, considering that you shouldn’t be preparing to give a 10 minute speech, you know how this is going to change the whole company and da-da-da-da, because that’s a presentation, right? You’re just preparing for a small jump to where you can just jump in and say, This is my thought, this is my opinion. And then and then what you’re doing there is you’re you’re, you’re shifting your mindset of as far as okay, I shouldn’t really be sharing this idea to know I have this idea that I’m coming in with and it can help it can. If we’re collaborating it’s It’s joining into the meeting, right? So it’s not about giving a long speech, it’s about just giving a short idea. Right?

Paola Pascual 10:07
Exactly. And you also said, I love when you said shift your mindset of I shouldn’t be giving this idea to know why not like, of course I should. And sometimes we feel okay, it’s probably not my place to speak up, or it’s not the right time. But if they invited you to the meeting, silence is really not in the best interest of the team, they invited you because they value your opinion. Also, if you feel like your idea is not fully developed, it’s okay that that part were half baked idea can inspire others. So yeah, shift your mindset mindset. And then there’s other you know, how we sometimes talk about little psychology tricks. And a lot of people think that they first have to build the confidence to speak up, and then speak up. But it’s actually there’s actually research that supports that it actually happens the other way around. When you speak up, then you’ll gain the confidence. Try and and don’t wait until you feel fully confident. This also happens with motivation. By the way, a lot of people wait to be motivated to take action, but it’s actually action what drives motivation.

Simon Kennell 11:17
And it doesn’t need to be the biggest action, right? It doesn’t need to be the most important meeting of the year that you wait to go and speak up and actually start to do it in small meetings, just you know, small team meetings and start to build up that confidence. So that you know, so that by the end of the year, you have this confidence to speak up, you know, in the big meeting, right. And that’s how you can like, say, building up that momentum.

Paola Pascual 11:43
That’s it and speak up early. It’s very related to what you were just saying, build your own momentum. The earlier you speak in the meeting, the easier it will be for you later. Especially because at the beginning, you start with the lighter topics, right? And so when it gets to the deep down of the the topic you’re covering, then you know, it’ll be much easier because you already you’re already warmed up.

Simon Kennell 12:09
And even if you’re just asking a question, that’s that’s still giving, giving some confidence. Yeah.

Paola Pascual 12:15
That’s it. That’s exactly it. So talking about speaking, um, sometimes you should speak up, sometimes you shouldn’t? What are the times where you shouldn’t speak up in meetings?

Simon Kennell 12:27
Yeah, this is I think it’s something I’ve had to learn. As a, in my professional life, I think, as a young professional, I feel sometimes, like very eager or excited about the topic, or, you know, definitely, sometimes you want to prove yourself or these kinds of things. And I’ve really had to learn that, hey, you know, this is about collaboration as a group, you know, it’s not about any one person, because if everybody spoke up all the time, then it would be, you know, chaotic, right? So, definitely don’t speak up in any way to show off or to, you know, like, if there’s not a reason to speak up, like really be honest with yourself, like, what’s the point? Why Why should I be speaking up? Is it? Is it to actually contribute something? Is it you know, relevant? Or is it for me? Like, why am I speaking? Is it for the group? Or is it for me? If it’s for me, I don’t think you know, you should be you should be speaking up and throwing out ideas. But if it’s for the group, then yeah. Also, like one on one situations, right? Like, how, what’s, what’s the question to ask yourself? If the comment is, like one on one, or it’s better for one on one or better for the team? This is a little bit difficult, like, which, which of these aspects do we need to consider? When we should hold back?

Paola Pascual 13:57
So the first question for that would be, is this relevant to one person or to the group? If it’s just for one person, then you can leave that for one on one meeting. Other situations where it’s much better to wait for the one on one meeting, if the topic is a little bit sensitive or tricky. And that could be feedback, even if it’s constructive, of course, here, it depends on the situation. It depends on your company culture, but in general feedback, even if it’s constructive, again, should be given in you know, it’s easier to give in one on one. Yeah, If it’s positive feedback, then great groups work. But yeah, difficult conversations or also asking for advice on a topic that only you care about. It’s much better to just wait until the meetings over and then ask that person one to one. These are very general ideas. They don’t apply always but it’s, you know, it’s a good rule of thumb to follow. But then there are other times where you definitely should speak up. So, what are some of those?

Simon Kennell 15:02
Yeah. So, again, asking yourself, if it’s for me or for the group, right? If the idea is relevant for the group, then definitely speak up. And I think also, if it’s a brainstorming session, right, if we’re here to work out an idea, then participation shows that you are engaged, it shows that you’re in your, you’re excited about the topic, it shows that you want to contribute, right. So I think that’s important as well. And those are kind of the two aspects for me that I think, you know, if we’re here to help, we’re here to find out an idea, then, you know, definitely join them because it shows that you are a part of the part of the team.

Paola Pascual 15:42
For sure. And also, if you’re if you’re one of the stakeholders and the topic, and there’s something you don’t agree with, of course, say it speak up, that’s where you’re there for it. So those are just some of the reasons why you would or should speak up in meetings. Alright, so let’s talk about how to actually do it. All right, like, what are the tips that have worked? You were talking about that, that client of yours that suddenly felt confident speaking with the senior team? So what are some tips that got them there?

Simon Kennell 16:14
Okay, so I think I should just say that it wasn’t suddenly it.

Paola Pascual 16:20
Oh, that’s a good point.

Simon Kennell 16:21
It was. Definitely we work together on this, and we got there. But one of the biggest things was, was that it was a practice of, like, you talked about of actually taking the chances and building up that that confidence. But I know that there was no, there was no script. You know, it wasn’t like he had some scripts that he was just looking off of. It was building up over time, the confidence to be able to stand up, and, and actually give his ideas. Now, I think you broke down really this great ABC, how to speak up in the meeting, which I think is I really like it, can you walk us through this? What is this ABC framework?

Paola Pascual 17:13
Right, so the ABC to speak up during meeting is first attention, B for breath, and C for communication. So those are the three steps First, with A – Attention whenever you want to speak up. And we’ve talked about this many, many times. We need to listen, before we speak, we need to pay attention to what the others are saying and be present. And that is not only communication etiquette, it’s really going to help you know what to say and who to talk to who to address. So it’s really also going to help you. So yeah, pay attention. Also Listen, as a non native English speaker, listen to the words that they say and use them yourself. Yeah. Two reasons, mainly one, because that’s great vocabulary that you can use because others have used it. And to because when we mimic when we mirror what others say we make, it makes us more likeable, so that you get the bonus point as well.

Simon Kennell 18:12
Yeah, exactly right. And I think when you’re listening, right, it’s not listening to wait for your chance to jump in. So there’s, we’ve talked before about active listening. And if you’re not sure what that means, what active listening is go check out our previous podcast about this. But active listening is that actually being immersed in that listening of fully paying attention to the meaning behind what people are saying and why they’re saying not what, unfortunately, a lot of people do is wait for their time to jump in. Right? So this is this act of listening that we want to focus on. Exactly. Yeah. And so Okay, so the attention is a big one. And that’s something that I’ve worked on with that client, as well as like, you know, a lot of times he he was getting very nervous of just thinking about this, you know, I need to say this thing at this time. And it was all about him and his idea that he needs to bring out not about what other people were saying. And that’s and that and that took that pressure off when he started paying attention to what the others were saying, and not just about, oh, I have this thing I need, I need to say, but I’m really nervous about it. So we have that intention part. The breath. What how do I how do we do this? How does this come into our confidence.

Paola Pascual 19:26
So this is also a twofold step first, breathing will make you more confident. And that’s a very short, bold statement. But it does help us regulate our nervous system, taking deep breaths, whenever you’re nervous, or you don’t feel as confident as you would like to take a deep breath and you’ll see how things just get better. That’s one thing, but it also helps you with your voice. So the way it works is usually when we’re nervous. We take a deep breath and we start speaking when we’re still inhaling. So I would take a deep breath. So what I think we should do, and then that’s when you get that fatigue, that’s when you get that you feel like short of breath. And what you have to do is okay, you take a deep breath, and then you start exhaling. Right? If you imagine a roller coaster, inhaling, it’s where you’re going up, and exhaling is when you’re going down, when you start going down is exactly when you should start speaking.

Simon Kennell 20:29
Okay, all right, I’m gonna try this.

Paola Pascual 20:31
All right, go ahead.

Simon Kennell 20:34
I think that’s a good idea. Wow, okay. All right. That’s, that’s much different than I think that’s a good idea.

Paola Pascual 20:42
That’s very exaggerated, for sure. But if you really think about it, okay, take a moment to just take a deep breath, give yourself time to take that air in and, and whenever you’re ready to, you know, go down, let the air out, then that’s when you should start speaking, that’s also going to help you with the intonation and and when you have that neutral or down intonation, then you also sound more confident,

Simon Kennell 21:08
Right. And intonation is when your voice is going down instead of going up, right? So it’s like, I think that’s a good idea. And it’s, I felt a lot more confident than if I were like, I think that’s a good idea, then it’s like, I’m my body is even shaking, right? I’m already nervous. That’s like a recipe for disaster.

Paola Pascual 21:29
That’s it. So yeah, we had attention, that’s when we listen to people, we pay attention to what they have to say, then we take a deep breath and start speaking on the way down or the exhale. And the last one is the communication part, to just go for it. And that’s where we’re going to give a lot of different tips. Okay, but how, like, what are the words that I can use? What are the different strategies that I can use to speak up? And we have, I think we have six.

Simon Kennell 21:58
All right. And again, you don’t need to use all of these together at the same time. And you should be, you know, having some kind of checklist in your head. No, just take these and start to try to implement some of them, I think is the best tip.

Paola Pascual 22:12
That’s it. That’s it.

Simon Kennell 22:14
Alright, so number one, what is number one? How do we, how do we do this?

Paola Pascual 22:19
So okay, you’ve done the paid attention. I took a deep breath. Now, how do I communicate? The first one is asking questions, it works. So well. Usually, open ended questions work much better. Yeah. So here, for example, you you can ask things like, so. What do you think about imagine they’re talking about Plan A, and you don’t really agree with that plan? Instead of saying, I totally disagree. One way you could do it is, what do you think about this other plan B, where we do this, this and that?

Simon Kennell 22:52
Huh, Yeah. And that’s a that’s a bit more collaborative. And it’s less, less threatening, right? It’s not saying, It’s not saying, Why do you or like, you know, do you like plan A? And it’s very kind of like, threatening, right, but what do you think about plan A? Like, what’s your thoughts? And I think that’s a yeah, those open ended questions are not threatening, and they’re easy to do as a first kind of, yeah, wait, I like that.

Paola Pascual 23:20
Exactly. That exactly that what else? Do you have any other tips? So that’s the first one ask open ended questions.

Simon Kennell 23:25
Yeah. And I think if it’s, if it’s something that where you’re the expert expert in or you are you have the inside knowledge on something, then I think you can really use your opinion, which you can do it in a way to where it doesn’t sound rude. It doesn’t sound arrogant, but it sounds like you’re joining in, right. But the key here is that you want you need to be confident there’s a fine line, right? You need to avoid the words like maybe or possibly, I think, perhaps, you know, because then what you’re doing is you’re bringing in an opinion without, without confidence behind it, which makes it sound like you haven’t really thought through it. So it’s like, okay, Simon’s just bringing up an idea in the meeting. That he’s he’s just saying, just to say it, it’s not that like he actually believes this. And, and that’s where you really have to use that right? You really have to go for it of saying, okay, instead of saying, Maybe we should think about doing this. In my experience, I’ve found that doing this really helps with the long term goal that we’re trying to get to. Right there. That’s like a total difference. I have more confidence in you if you’re telling me that instead of maybe we should think about…

Paola Pascual 24:52
but it’s a big change. So then your point was make it personal things like in my opinion, or in my experience, or my experience tells me I like that a lot. But then sound confident by avoiding that, you said, maybe I think, just.

Simon Kennell 25:09
And what you’re doing when you’re saying, like my experience, or what I’ve found, or what I’m noticing is that you’re not, you’re not saying that this is the correct way. And this is what we should be doing. You’re adding that this is something that you’ve experienced, it’s your experience, and you’re adding this to the team. And maybe we can discuss this. So, you know, instead of saying like, this is the best way to reach the sales goal. In my experience, I’ve found that doing X, Y, and Z has helped reach sales goals in the past. That’s me making an opinion. And it’s something where I’m not being threatening. Again, I’m just coming in with an idea. But I’m still sounding confident.

Paola Pascual 25:57
Yeah, I like that. This is another example. Instead of saying this is just an idea. But don’t think this is just an idea. But right, you want to make it important. You could say well, of the options we have, we’ve seen that the one that makes sense is… And that’s how you show that you have experience, you have confidence. That’s one. The other you and this is something we discussed before. It’s the prep framework. It’s not something we’ve come up with, but it’s something that a lot of people know. And that is Point – Reason – Evidence – Point. Okay, would you be able to tell us a little bit more about that?

Simon Kennell 26:36
Point, reason, evidence and point. Okay, so you’re giving your point in the meeting, right? In my opinion, I think we should do X, Y, and Z to reach the sales goal. The reason I think this is, in my experience, I found that doing these three things has a big impact in the second quarter. Now, when I worked in my previous job, we did this, and we had a 50% increase during that time, which was huge. So that’s kind of what I’m thinking, we can take that same idea and implement that on our team. And perhaps that could have a big impact. So like, I’m giving my point. I’m giving the reason why, like my experience behind this and the evidence that went with that. And then I’m restating that point. And what it does is, again, you can do it in a way that it’s not threatening, it’s just that this is my experience. And then open it up, and then you can always go with that open ended question at the end. What do you think about that? Right? And, and they’re, you’re speaking up, and you’re giving your idea, in a confident way, but you’re still including, you know, any comments after.

Paola Pascual 27:51
That sounds very powerful. I’m definitely going to try that in then next meeting,

Simon Kennell 27:55
all right, I’ll be waiting, I’ll be waiting to hear.

Paola Pascual 27:58
Awesome. There’s also this other technique that I love, and that I probably the one that I use the most often together with the questions and that is to, to back up the idea of another person, that’s when you compliment what someone else said, and you use it to add to it, of course, you have to agree otherwise don’t don’t say you agree, hey, but you know, you could say things like, Oh, that’s a great point. And it reminds me of this other point. Yeah. Or you could also say, oh, you know what, I loved what you said about this thing. And that ties back to this other thing that I want to talk about. You could also say, Oh, good point. And related to that, the trend I’m seeing is, that’s where you add your point, it is a very, very nice way to build rapport with the other people to really tell them that you were listening, that’s the attention part that we talked about before. And it gives you the opportunity, the perfect opportunity now that people are hearing all these compliments about themselves. You got them listening to you to then make your own point and speak. Nice, very effective technique. You’ve used that as well. I’ve noticed

Simon Kennell 29:12
No one what happens if we need to disagree. If it’s like we’re in a meeting, and we’re, we don’t want to call them out or like be very negative towards one person in the middle of the meeting. But we need to make our point knowing knowing that we disagree, what do we do there?

Paola Pascual 29:30
So it’s fine, it’s totally fine. You need to be confident and again, this is sometimes very culturally dependent depends on the culture of your country and the culture of your company. And on a number of other reasons, as we said, like personality and things like that, but if you plan to disagree, we believe that you should disagree, but offer an alternative solution or add constructive criticism. So Don’t Don’t just try to disagree with the intent to insult but to support. So okay, you don’t agree with something, provide the reason and then add a suggestion. Or if you don’t have that the end solution at least give them some advice on how they could start thinking.

Simon Kennell 30:18
Yeah. Yeah. Great. Great. And again, consider that, you know, the culture, the company culture, the group culture, right? Definitely take these things into consideration. If you feel like there’s a chance that it might be better to do this in person with that person later, then definitely do that. You don’t want to offend people. And that can be Yeah, that can be a little bit of a tricky, tightrope.

Paola Pascual 30:46
Yeah, a very effective technique here, when you really want to disagree with something is to abstract it a bit. So instead of making it about a specific person, a specific, specific project or activity, you could say something like, when something similar happened in the past, this is what we did. Or generally speaking, when we come up with an issue like this, this is what usually works. You’re not really making it about the person, but you’re just giving general advice based on your experience.

Simon Kennell 31:19
Hmm, I like that. I like that. Yeah. Yeah, it’s it’s objective, right? It’s not about the person.

Paola Pascual 31:26
That’s it. So if someone made a mistake, for example, you could say, oh, what I’ve noticed when this happened in the past with other people, is that this other thing worked really well. So then we’re taking the pressure off them, and you’re not telling them? Why did you do that was totally wrong. Do this instead? Right. Right. Right.

Simon Kennell 31:45
Cool. Cool. All right, six examples for you different strategies on how to do this what to say, right? So we’ve talked about, you know, we’ve talked about the, the ABC, which is the attention, the breath, and then go for it, right, the communication? And then we talked about the strategies, right? So asking questions, what do you think about those open ended questions? Using it the personal in my opinion, or in my experience? And then we talked about leading with facts as well. Right? And, and how do we just give us a quick example, Paola of how we can lead with facts?

Paola Pascual 32:27
Yeah, so we briefly touched on on this one, and it really helps. For example, if you have a statistic or a percentage, say, oh, there’s actually 60% of people who are missing out on that could help you, you know, whenever you have a fact or statistic, then that could be a good point for you to speak up, you provide a fact, it’s not an opinion, you provide a fact. And then you can add on to it, what your take what your take is.

Simon Kennell 32:52
And we’ve talked about that with disagreeing as well, right? It’s very powerful to use statistics numbers, when disagreeing, and it makes it objective. And then again, we talked about another strategy of the PREP, right? The point give the reason, the evidence, you can use the facts, then the numbers, and then end with the point again. You talked about complementing about adding on to what people were saying. And then I love, I love the disagreeing, you know, make it objective, right? Make it make it about something other than the person. So yeah, so six very good strategies to speak up in meetings. And then, okay, so, we’re gonna do a little example, right? So we’re gonna take in some of these points, and I’m really gonna try this. Okay, so I can do, I’m gonna do the breath thing. Let’s see if I can do. Okay. So Paola and I are talking, we’re having a discussion, and I’m ready to speak up in this kind of collaborative meeting. You know, I was looking at some research that you’ve done, Paola, and I was surprised to find that over 50% of our listeners want to work on confidence building. So I’ve noticed this as well, and several of our students, and I was thinking we could bring a coach or psychologist onto the show to discuss how we can improve our confidence when speaking in our second language or in English. What do you think about that?

Paola Pascual 34:24
Ooh, I’d like how you implement it quite a few strategies from the ones we talked about. You had the point in recent evidence point, like you did lead with facts. You talked about, you know, some of the stuff that I had said before, you know, I was surprised to find or looking at the research you have done that’s how you involve the other person. And then you asked with that open ended question. I think that works really, really well. So yeah, nice.

Simon Kennell 34:51
I got to keep working on the on the whole breadth thing and I’m gonna I’m gonna do that. Keep working on that later today.

Paola Pascual 34:57
Practice makes perfect.

Simon Kennell 34:58
There you go. Exactly right. Okay, so Paola, we’re wrapping up any last messages to all of our listeners out there on how to speak up in meetings.

Paola Pascual 35:11
So my last thought here is, again, to be mindful of the culture, and how that affects how we speak up in meetings. And in adding on to that, actually, we have a webinar, a free webinar coming up, or at the end of August, we’ll drop that in the comments. And that is Working Across Cultures. So we’ll talk about how different cultures communicate, interact, work together. So if you’re interested in learning more than again, we’ll drop the link in in the comments or in the blog wherever you’re accessing this piece of content. And yeah, we really hope to see you there. It’s going to be interactive. It’s going to be the two of us, Simon and I, and it’s going to be a lot of fun.

Simon Kennell 35:59
Yeah, I’m looking forward to it. I’m looking. Great. All right. Well, as always, you know, keep letting us know what you want to work on. We talked about the confidence building. And now Yes, speaking up in meetings is so important. And a lot of these tools again, you can use outside of that, so let us know. But besides that, wherever you are, have a great rest of your day. And, as always, keep learning.

Outro 36:29
And that’s all we have for you today. We hope you enjoyed it, and remember to
subscribe to Talaera Talks. We’ll be back soon with more! And visit our website at talaera.com for more valuable content on business English. You can also request a free consultation on the best ways for you and your team to improve your communication skills. So have a great day and keep learning!

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