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Communication Skills 101: Speak Up!

2 min read

Have you been encouraged to “speak up” more often in group situations? Actress/Executive Coach Carol Lempert shares some best practices on how to do just that…

An area that people often confess to needing help with is ‘speaking up’ in groups. Participants and Coachees tell me that they are comfortable one on one, but when more than four people are in the room, they don’t know what to say. I’ve encountered C-level executives that are challenged with this, as well as more junior folks.

To tackle this problem it’s helpful to think about the specific and various ways one could ‘speak up’. Here are some tips:

5 Tips for Speaking Up in Group Situations

  1. Endorse: Compliment something someone else said.
    The outcome of this technique is that it builds good relationships, especially with the individual that has spoken first. At the same time it lets the group hear that you are someone who notices and acknowledges others.
  2. Summarize: Paraphrase back to the group something someone else has said.
    The result of this method is that it reinforces the key message you think is important in the meeting. Research shows that it takes people a minimum of 3 and as many as 8 times to hear a message before it sticks. You can be the reinforcer. You can help others remember what is important.
  3. Scaffold: Take the best thing that is going on in the discussion and build on it.
    Again, the goal of this is to reinforce a key message you think is important. “I really like the idea of X. Perhaps we can think about Y too.”
  4. State the obvious: If you are a leader that likes to digest information before you share your thoughts, then state this fact to your team; i.e. “I’m going to take a moment to formulate my thoughts– I hope you know that I’m still very much present and interested in what is going on.”
    The purpose of this technique is to make sure your voice is heard by others in the room. Help them understand your process, rather than leave them guessing as to the reason you are being so quiet.
  5. Volume: Be aware of how loud you speak.
    Sometimes the request to have you ‘speak up’ literally means that people can’t hear what you are saying. Rate yourself on a scale of 1 – 10 with 10 being the loudest you could be. Work to speak at a 5 or 6. This is especially helpful when having to be heard on conference calls.

If speaking up is an area of development for you, challenge yourself to try one of these techniques at your next meeting. Let us know how it goes!

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