How to Not Feel Invisible—Make Sure Your Voice is Heard
It’s hard enough to get into the room—to be a part of the decision-making process and climb the ladder in a competitive environment. But it’s not enough. Many women succumb to excessive pressure that their male counterparts don’t face. A big part of this is the double standard related to the tone and presentation of female voices vs. male voices.
It shouldn’t mean changing who you are or how you interact with people, but there are several things you can do to have a bigger, more vocal impact in the meeting room. Let’s look at a few of them.
Don’t Be Afraid to Use Your Full Voice
For many, it’s difficult to speak up and attract attention in a way they have not before. It’s no surprise that many women are afraid to use their full voice in a professional setting.
Speak with the intention of being heard. Project your voice and make sure everyone in the room can hear you clearly. You’re not being overly loud or demanding—you’re ensuring everyone hears what you have to say.
Pace Your Speech
When nervous or eager, it’s easy to rush; to speak much faster than is necessary. By slowing your speech and ensuring every word is deliberately delivered in a clear, easy to understand manner, you can take control of the conversation and ensure you have everyone’s undivided attention.
There are several ways to speak with intention. Slowing down how quickly you say each word will have a definite impact. So, too, will adding longer breaks between each sentence and pausing between different ideas to let them sink in. Counterintuitively, when you speak slowly and command the attention of the room, you’ll be interrupted less often.
Speak with Confidence
Impostor syndrome impacts everyone; it’s just a matter of how they overcome it. After all, the other people in the room want to hear what you have to say. Otherwise, you would not be there. Speak with confidence. Know that what you say has a purpose and value to the people with whom you are speaking.
It’s easy to say, “be more confident,” but it doesn’t just happen. You have to practice. And practice can be hard to come by in a stressful work setting. Get out of your comfort zone by attending local networking events, engaging with people at the office in extracurricular activities, and even spending some time practicing by yourself. The more often you engage in conversation with confidence, the better you will perform.
Push for Your Ideas to Be Heard
There are few feelings worse than attempting to make a contribution only to have it pushed aside or outright ignored. How do you respond in those situations? If you’re like most people, you shut down, retreat into yourself, and stew.
But this is the exact moment when outward confidence and a clear voice can serve you best. The moment you feel like something is being pushed aside, step up and advocate for yourself—don’t ask for attention, demand it.
Be polite and respectful, of course, but don’t allow a sea of “maybes” to derail what you feel is a solid contribution. Ask them to present specific reasons why your idea may not work, ask about how it would integrate with other potential solutions, and how the logistics would pan out.
Be a Proactive Member of the Team
Your position is valuable. There’s a reason you’ve been elevated to a seat at the table and asked to provide insights and input on the big ideas at play in your company.
Don’t let a fear of speaking up and the volume of your colleagues’ contributions get in the way of being heard when it’s your turn. Stand up, speak out, and be ready to go to bat for your ideas when there is pushback. Done right, you’ll be well on your way to the next step in your career.