As an executive leader of the Africa Bureau team in the Department of State (1993-96) my job was to represent policy views in meeting cultures that allowed interruptions, put-downs, posturing and self-service. I knew I had to adapt or remain ignored. I watched and tested behaviors that got my views taken seriously in meetings.
Strategies to be heard in meetings
The takeaways from my experience are valuable in in-person and virtual meetings today. If you utilize these methods, you will be heard in meetings.
- Always have a desired outcome in mind
- Seek and accept help from allies
- Look and speak like a leader
- Strut your strengths
- Echo women so they are heard
- Listen actively
- Lean in and use other non verbals to indicate you have something to say
- Stop interruptions/Use interruption
- Write comments and wait to express them at the right time
Strategies to be heard in video conferences
While video conferences and conference calls have a different set of challenges, there are some easy steps you can take to ensure that you are heard. In a conversation with colleagues who frequently participate in video conferences, they suggested the following:
- Check your equipment prior to the meeting
- Make sure you are facing the light so people can see you on their screens
- Use the microphone
- Know what you want to say before you “raise your hand”
- If you are timid about “raising your hand,” do it anyway
- Speak slowly and project your voice appropriately
- When appropriate, follow up with written transcript of key decisions
- What further advice would you add?
- What three adjectives would you use to describe your meeting culture(s)?
- What do you need to do more of or differently to be heard?