Q. I find it so difficult to speak up at work. I’m really great at my job but feel overlooked and invisible. How can I increase my confidence?
A. Confidence is best built in a series of tiny steps. In a work environment, it’s hard to gather all the courage you have and start talking in a team meeting. Suddenly you find everyone’s eyes are focussed on you. The danger is that you dry up or fumble your words.
Here’s how to focus people’s attention on your ideas and take their gaze away from you.
Prepare a simple document that summarises what it is that you want to present to the group. This could be a mind-map, a flowchart or a simple bulleted list of ideas. Make it visually appealing and keep the word count low.
Ask whoever is leading the meeting if they will add it to the agenda – that way it’s not you trying to break into the flow of the meeting. Or, enlist a more confident colleague to introduce the topic and hand over to you. Give everyone a copy, and lead people through your ideas – the document is your script and it will keep you on track.
Let people know you’re willing to talk about your ideas one to one afterwards. Your colleagues will appreciate the fact that you’ve given them something structured to think about. Your team leader will be very happy that you’ve spoken up.
Don’t worry about being a bit wobbly at first. This technique works well and, over time, will help you build confidence and gain respect.
Let me know how you get on!