Afraid to Speak at Meetings? Here Are Some Tips.

Speaking in a group conversation can be intimidating and depending on the organization you work in or the expectations of your job there maybe nothing wrong with being quiet, it may be a liability to your career. It can even matter in social situations that come up at work. Generally, speaking there is nothing wrong with being quiet, but if you want to assert yourself more in conversations here are some ideas.

First, give yourself permission to be silent. Otherwise it can become a self-fulfilling prophecy in which you never speak because of the feedback loop of pressure and anxiety you create for yourself.

You can try talking more often than it feels like you should. Even if this is a simple affirmation of what someone else has said. If you speak more often than you feel is necessary as a quiet person you are probably chiming in about the average amount. If you don’t force yourself to participate every so often you almost certainly will default to your normal amount of speaking.

While this may seem in opposition to the first point it important not deride yourself but at the same time encourage yourself. Don’t stress yourself out. Do your best to find a happy medium.

If it is work meetings you are concerned about make sure to be prepared, have some talking points written down ahead of time. If the conversation takes a unanticipated turn towards an unscheduled topic do your best to improvise.

Remember also that if the goal is to be heard and make yourself more present small contributions are better than nothing. Try accenting other people’s larger ideas with small thoughts. If someone is making an argument for or against a certain action or direction the organization might take fill in the gaps with little thoughts.

If you aren’t speaking remember to at least be honestly engaged in the conversation. Look the current speaker in the eye. Don’t appear too relaxed, sit up with a good posture. Take notes by hand even if you don’t need them. Be the person in the room who isn’t distracted by their cell phone.

Tips On Making Small Talk

The art of small talk can be boiled down to one simple piece of advice—ask the other person questions. Of course things are more complex than that, but by actively engaging the other person small talk will be much easier and more sincere.

First make sure you are covering the following three criteria—be authentic, make a sincere connection, choose a topic that gives a taste of who you are. But how does one accomplish this?

Avoid “news update” topics such as weather, sports and traffic.

Be aware of your surroundings. If you are in someone else’s space. Choose a unique object in the room to ask questions about. It could be a family photo or an unusual decoration. It is ok to share personal news as well, but make sure it is something that actually happened. The point is to be sincere. Invented niceties might momentarily fill the silence but won’t add up to a conversation.

Don’t be afraid to speak first.

Make eye contact and be aware of your facial expressions and body language. As in all conversations what your body says can be more revealing than what your mouth speaks.
Finally, just go for it. If you are authentic and speak with purpose you might find yourself in the middle of an interesting conversation.

Mentoring

A mentor is someone who is a trusted counselor or guide; a tutor or coach. It is often used the context of someone more experienced teaching, helping, or guiding a less experienced protege. If someone is being mentored they are the mentee.

Mentoring becomes a partnership between the two parties where one will impart their skills to the lesser experienced partner.

To become a mentor, you should have want to share your knowledge with others, encourage and motivate them, be willing to invest your time, be readily available to answer questions, and figure out if you are the correct mentee for them.

You can figure out how to meet whether it’s in person or via something like Skype or Facetime. You will need to figure out the frequency of your meetings as well. You may want to limit the time frame of the mentoring relationship as well. Remember to keep your meetings confidential.

When you’ve reached the end of the mentoring relationship, you may want to encourage your mentee to go on and become a mentor him/herself.