Successful Living: How to Speak Up at Work

July 30, 2014

Dedication and hard work just aren’t enough to get noticed by your boss. The best way to get noticed by a manager is to speak up and contribute. But many young professionals struggle to speak up at work. There are many reasons why we don’t speak up, most commonly because of fear of confrontation, self-consciousness, and inexperience.

But what does that cost you? Plenty, it turns out–an average employee spends up to 1/3 of his or her time at work in meetings. So speaking up in group settings is one of the best opportunities for you to stand out.  If you work in a large corporation, speaking up can mean the difference between advancement and being passed over: ever notice how performance reviews focus a lot on whether you “are able to contribute” ideas, rather than “listen and agree well with others”? In order to better prepare to speak up in the workplace, take note of these 7 essential tips.

1. Give yourself a pep talk- Be your own cheerleader and build yourself up. Put yourself in a relaxed yet confident mood by smiling, and telling yourself that you are a smart, creative talent. Everyone’s opinion counts especially if you have information to back it up. Sharing your opinion can spark all productive conversation–maybe even a great solution.

2. Be prepared- When you go into a meeting, make sure you know your stuff. Research the topics beforehand and be active in the conversation. Tip: Contribute early before you have a chance to second guess yourself.

3. Take a superman stance-It sounds silly but it works. Right before you have an important meeting take a few minutes alone and take a superman stance. You know, stand up straight and tall, chest out, hands on your hips. This power stance tricks your brain into being super confident.

4. Engage the people you are addressing–There is always a possibility that your opinion might not be generally accepted, but the more you engage with people in the room, the more likely they’ll feel open-minded. Subtle gestures like saying hello when you walk into the room, and giving each person a friendly smile, or gazing and talking to each of them (as opposed to directing your talk at no one in particular, or just one person) will make others more receptive and positively disposed toward your ideas.

5. Ask questions- Whether or not you have a suggestion, don’t be afraid to ask questions. It will show your interest in the topic and your enthusiasm to develop solutions.

6. Fake it until you make it–that’s the advice of Diane von Fursternberg, a self-made fashion billionaire, gives to young women who struggle with self-doubt. Often faking confidence will transform into real confidence. If you are confident about your subject, others will be more willing to trust and listen to what you have to say.

7. Don’t make apologies or not finish your thought, but do take it slow–We often start suggestions with “I don’t know if this makes sense, but…” or “I’m sorry, but I was wondering…” Even if you feel embarrassed by speaking up in front of a group, don’t apologize or undermine your own authority because you feel anxious. If you feel overwhelmed with anxiety, just slow down–most people tend to speak faster when they’re nervous, so slowing down your speech will give yourself time to think, instead of filling the void with apologies and second guesses. Be sure to finish your thoughts, and give a confident, “interested” smile at the end, instead of a nervous look.

Now that we have some skills for speaking up, make sure to keep your points short and sweet, stay authentic and honest, and make sure you treat others how you want to be treated.

Having trouble speaking up at work? Why? What are some ways you can be a more outspoken player?

Also by Krystle: Should You Learn to Ask for Help?

More Career tips: 5 Ways to Be Happier at Work

How to Overcome Career Envy



Photo: Unsplash

Krystle is the vegan blogger of The House of Snuggles. She currently resides in the desert with her furry family and when she’s not writing she’s baking, cooking, and exploring the possibilities life has to offer.


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