How to Overcome Your Fear of Speaking Up in Meetings - Deepstash
Difficulty speaking up during virtual meetings

We all struggle to speak up at times for many reasons:

  • It's harder to read physical and social cues onscreen and even impossible on a big team.
  • If you're a junior employee or still new to the company, you may feel reserved around your teammates.
  • You may feel your ideas are still half-baked and won't be seen as valuable.
  • You may feel someone more experienced may take your suggestions as personal critiques.

However, if you stay silent, the quality of collective decisions may suffer.

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Finding the courage to speak up is critical to your success and your team's success, as collective decisions are driven by the diversity of your experiences and expertise. To be more productive in your next virtual meetings, shift your mindset from:

  • "My idea is not complete" to " It could be the source of someone else's breakthrough."
  • "It's probably not my place to speak up" to "Silence is not in the interest of the team."
  • "I want to sound intelligent" to "This is about the collective intelligence of my team."

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Employees may refrain from speaking up because they:

  • Fear being ostracised
  • Don't want to be embarrassed
  • Want to avoid negative remarks
  • Feel like speaking up is inappropriate

They may decide to hold back an idea that is not thought out thoroughly. Shift your mindset: Your half-baked idea could be the first step in a team breakthrough. Speaking up may help your team advance from idea to execution.

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Young or inexperienced people are often reluctant to share ideas because they are not in a position to do so.
Shift your mindset: Never underestimate the value your perspective brings to the table. If you remain silent, you are effectively choosing not to help the company.

  • Ensure your idea is relevant to the group, not just one individual.
  • Offer an alternative solution if you plan to disagree.
  • Aim to strengthen the discussion.

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Research on collective intelligence shows that participation increases collective intelligence and the decision-making quality of the team.

Shift your mindset:Think of your next virtual meeting as a puzzle where each team member holds unique pieces to that puzzle. Holding back your expertise and experiences, regardless of size or importance, may leave the puzzle incomplete. The purpose of speaking up in a meeting is not to stand out but to contribute to on-topic information.

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  • Prepare your nudge: Think of one on-topic question you want to see answered during the meeting and write it down. Even if you get "cold-called", you have at least one thoughtful question.
  • Rehearse your introduction: Don't say: "Hi, I'm Haruto, and I'm happy to be here." Say, "Hi, I'm Haruto. Thank you for inviting me. I look forward to sharing my initial thoughts on ..."
  • Use the chat function to make yourself "seen."
  • Find your window: Unmute yourself and share your idea when someone deliberately pauses.
  • Raise your hand: Try using emojis to draw attention.

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