- On July 4, 2021
Lawyers spend many hours in meetings, whether Zoom or (soon to be) in person. I like these tips from the Harvard Business Review on how to speak up in meetings. Knowing when to chime in and not speak over others is hard, so get a plan ready:
- Understand it’s difficult to speak up because you’re not sure whether others will make it safe for you or whether you’ll be heard. To gauge whether to speak up at a particular meeting, ask yourself how you can speak up in a way that’s honest and respectful.
- A good way to open is to lead with facts. Then segue into a (short!) story to get people’s attention. Next, raise your proposal/concern and why you care. End with an open-ended question, e.g., what people think of your idea.
- Practice, especially if you are afraid you will lose your train of thought. Try to keep everything to one sentence.
An example: An HBR editor was prepping for an upcoming brainstorming meeting on HBR TikTok. She wanted to propose using TikTok to add international content to the platform. At the meeting, she jumped in with the fact that a large chunk of the audience, 28%, was international. She led into a story/why she cares: “I love TikToks that take me out of my everyday, like street fashion in China or Turkish cooking. And I love learning about different languages or words.” Then she raised her proposal: “I’m wondering, are there [international editors] in our HBR network, including Vasundra and Rakshitha, that could share just like, ‘Oh, here are interesting things about work life or school.’ Is that something that we could try? And then are there people in our network that could authentically talk about the international culture lens?” She admits her performance was “not the best of all time,” but she did speak up and knows things will only get easier. She concludes “speaking up in meetings … is not the biggest problem you’ll probably encounter at work. But it is real and it is one of those small things that happens all the time, every day. So conquering this little thing can actually create a big impact.” I wholeheartedly agree.