How to Speak at Business Meetings
What you say in a business meeting and how you say it are both important, and how you speak can make or break your performance. To get your ideas across, you must hold the audience’s attention and avoid appearing either hesitant or domineering.
When expressing your opinion, do so clearly and firmly, but also respect everyone else at the meeting and allow time for their voices to be heard.
Engage the Audience
If you can capture the audience’s attention and make them feel comfortable, they’ll pay closer attention to what you say. Adapt your tone to that of the other attendees to establish rapport and create an inviting atmosphere.
For example, if the overall mood of the meeting is reserved, make your presentation low-key. Also, instead of winging it, prepare your remarks in advance. Give your speech an organized structure with a clear and logical beginning, middle and end.
How you speak should demonstrate your confidence in your ideas. Don’t qualify your thoughts with words or phrases such as “I think” or “Perhaps,” which suggest uncertainty. If you express any doubt about your ideas, such as saying “I don’t know if this will work, but…” it could cause your audience to have doubts as well.
Also, avoid using filler words such as “uh,” “like” and “you know.” People sometimes do this when collecting their thoughts, but it can damage your credibility and authority.
Business meetings can be tense and sometimes hectic, with multiple people struggling to get their ideas heard and others worried they’ll be called out in front of the team. Strive for an upbeat tone and focus on solutions instead of criticism.
If you must offer a critique or ask uncomfortable questions, don’t let this make up the bulk of your monologue. Instead, aim to offer twice as many positive comments as you do negative ones. Also, look for specific positive comments you can make, such as saying you like someone’s idea.
Avoid interrupting others, even if you’re eager to ask a question or add an idea. However, sometimes you may need to say something important or clarify something before the conversation shifts to other topics. You can interject in a diplomatic way that allows you to be heard without making others feel slighted.
For example, instead of starting off with your own thoughts, you could restate what the other person said to make it clear you’re interested in starting a dialogue and not in taking over the conversation.
Even if you’re addressing one person or responding to someone’s question, make eye contact with everyone in the room to make it clear that you want everyone to understand your message and that you’re interested in their feedback.
Allow everyone a chance to speak. Keep your message succinct to leave space for others to respond to your thoughts, and so there’s time for everyone to bring up what they want to discuss.
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