Company Officer Development
r s a r Y ou’re in a meeting of higher ups/bosses/superi- ors, etc. You feel as if you need to make a point but don’t think you’re in such a position, or you
can’t because you are NOT in a position to. Here are
1. Make eye contact around the room so they know
you’re engaged and looking for something.
2. You might catch the eye of someone who gives
you an encouraging look. That usually means he
may be willing to back you up (provided you don’t
make a jerk of yourself).
3. Gently shake your head—as in frustration (as
opposed to anger).
4. Scribble on a notepad in front of you so it looks
like you’re making notes on the subject. One
such time, I simply wrote over and over again, “I
wish you’d let me speak,” like a kid in elementary
school who got in trouble and had to write some-
thing on the board 100 times.
5. If all that doesn’t work, you can also try letting
out an audible sigh, as if you can’t believe what is
going on. However, use caution with this one. It
might seem too obvious and be looked on as an
obvious cry for attention and viewed as an annoyance and unwelcome interruption to the meeting.
6. When you are acknowledged, don’t falter. Don’t
stammer, and don’t act surprised. Say what is on
your mind, clearly and distinctly. Have it planned
in your head before you open your mouth. It would
help if you’ve planned ahead of time and written
notes or even exactly what it is you want to say.
Present it well, with definitive thought. This may be
your one chance to make an impression and prove
yourself as a valuable contributor to the team.
7. If you do start to stammer, stumble, or ramble on,
trying to organize the words as they leave your
mouth, you may very well blow your chance at
being heard and getting your points across.
8. Keep it short and to the point.
DODGING THE BULLET
If what you’re going to say is controversial or
unpopular, stick to the facts and try not to include your
feelings, emotions, or opinions. Stick to your script that
hopefully you were able to practice before the big day.
If these tips don’t work, try to get a hold of some
of the meeting participants one on one, in a relaxed
setting where you can present your ideas in a short
“elevator speech.” They may give you feedback and
constructive criticism. They may even ask you to
speak up next time.
Another key to success is timing. This is a difficult
one to predict. Being the first or last to speak on a
topic can be difficult and prove less memorable than
those who lead a discussion and are able to bring up
points or insights into the subject at hand. Those who
speak last run the risk of beating a dead horse. Those
who speak first can generally start a discussion or
debate and then be lost in the momentum.
WHO CARES WHAT YOU THINK?
To be realistic, some of your superiors simply do
not care what you think or what you have to say. If
that is the case, tread lightly. A few short replies to
questions or throwing out some tidbits or teasers
within a discussion may prove to be a good way to
break the ice and prove that you do, in fact, have a
good handle on the discussion and valuable insight.
However, know when to say when and when to
live to fight another day. Some of these uphill battles
are won simply by being patient and watching for an
opening or when the momentum is right. Like Yogi
Berra said, “You can learn a lot by listening.” After the
meeting or situation is over, critique it like you would
any fire or emergency. Think about what went well
and what didn’t. Almost every meeting has an ebb and
flow. In fact, many meetings are almost predictable
in how they are going to play out. Recognize the flow
of the situation so you can learn when the best times
Blah, Blah, Blah ...
How to make your point when you
don’t have a speaking part
If it’s going to cost you your job
or make you look bad, think twice
before jumping on that grenade.