Speaking Up: Confidence in the Workplace

If you suffer from a fear of public speaking (glossophobia) or public speaking anxiety, you may ?nd yourself participating less in team meetings or keeping quiet during brainstorming sessions.

Don’t let your thoughts and ideas go unnoticed. Maintaining a con?dent demeanor at the workplace is vital to your growth and success, especially when it is time for performance reviews. You may be completing and even excelling at your tasks and goals, but your hard work could be overshadowed by more vocal members of your team.

self confidenceThere are a few strategies you can use to speak up and make yourself known in the workplace.

You Can Start Outside the Workplace

Are you the kind of person that doesn’t say something when your restaurant order is wrong? Do you keep quiet when a product rings up at the register for a higher price than marked? When your friends ask for suggestions of what movie to see, do you not make a suggestion?

There’s nothing wrong with politely speaking up.

Start using these situations as an opportunity to practice being more vocal. If you make it a part of your daily lifestyle, it will be easier to speak up in the workplace. But during the process be sure to remember the difference between assertive and aggressive. You can make yourself known without being rude, loud, or condescending.

Ask Questions

You can start by asking questions. If during a meeting you have a concern, make your question known to the audience. By asking thought-provoking questions you can steer a discussion, make others aware of your presence, and highlight potential issues of a project. Questions will also get you thinking, helping you come up with new ideas that you can suggest later.

The best questions ask for further information without belittling or dismissing other ideas.

The examples below are general, but you can ?nd creative ways to apply them to your current position.

  • “I see how this project would attract new customers. Do you have estimates on how many?”
  • “Is there a way we could make this process more ef?cient without lowering the value of our product?”
  • “That idea may work well during this quarter, but what about long-term?”

Make Suggestions

Of course asking questions isn’t enough. Eventually people are going to expect you to provide answers for them.

Before meetings, or even as part of your daily ritual before work, make a list of at least ten strategic ideas or thoughts on improvement based on what you’ll be focused on.
They don’t have to be groundbreaking, even simple suggestions guide projects and people towards success.

These lists will prepare you to speak up throughout your day, especially if you’re put on the spot during a meeting.

Your suggestions may lead to additionally responsibilities or projects, so be prepared to aim for new goals.

Possible suggestions could include everything from minor details to major changes. Perhaps it would save resources to print a document in black and white instead of color, or to print double-sided. Other possible suggestions are listed below.

  • “This report is great, but a graph could organize the information in a more visually pleasing way.”
  • “Have we researched the results of when we send our company e-mail? Sending it a different day of the week may yield a better response.”
  • “Our current advertising campaign focuses on young adults, but I see a market for families as well.”

How many ideas can you come up with for your workplace projects?

Attend Social Events

Lunch with coworkers, the company picnic, the annual holiday party. You may dread these events, and if you do, you may just dismiss them altogether. Besides, they’re not mandatory, right? You just want to do your job without the socializing and politics.

But no matter what position you hold, showing a friendly face is important to your success. There are always safe topics (your personal work, the weather, sports, hobbies) that you can use to guide the conversation to a safe place away from gossip and of?ce politics.

Getting to know your coworkers in social settings gives you an additional opportunity to share ideas, which will bolster your own strategic thinking. Being more familiar with coworkers will also make you more comfortable speaking with them about professional matters in the workplace.

You can start slow, maybe a brief exchange or some small talk at the water-cooler, and eventually grow into being comfortable sharing lunch with workmates, joining a company softball team, or participating in a social planning committee.

And maybe, just maybe, you’ll have some fun at the same time.

Speaking with a Professional

If you ?nd these methods don’t work for you, or that the anxiety is too overwhelming, it may be time to speak with a therapist, career coach, or public speaking consultant. It’s important to do research before making this decision and learn which option best suits your needs.

Speak with several professionals before making a decision and see which one best ?ts your goals.

Best of luck in making yourself known and reaching your career goals. Until then, speak strong!

Mike Jousan is an internationally recognized speaker and consultant. Since 1988 he has been leading Clear Communication Company, a consulting firm specializing in all forms of person-to-person communication. He is the author of three books on public speaking and communication. Mike can also be found on LinkedIn.