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How to speak up by setting your intention to contribute to the meeting

What is holding you back from speaking up?

Today's topic is pertinent to a conversation that I recently had with a brilliant young lady who is making her way through her leadership career and recently joined one of our leadership training programs.

During her complimentary strategy session, when I asked what her biggest challenge was, she mentioned her lack of confidence and inability to speak up in meetings when senior-level people were present.

In the past, the feedback she received was that she wasn't proactive enough or taking the lead and instead was leaning back and letting the two other male team members take over the discussion.

When I asked her what was behind her "leaning back," she shared that she gets very nervous when in a group with senior leaders and that her peers, who are extroverts, overpower the conversation.

As the conversation continued, I asked her what was behind the nervousness. The assumption that she was making was that when she shared and spoke, her superiors were evaluating her, which would also apply to her peers.

While applying this rationale, everyone in the room is also being evaluated by the senior leaders. However, how it impacted her is that she gets in her head when she makes this assumption and becomes extremely nervous. She starts thinking about all the things that she may be doing wrong while she's in their presence.

Does this scenario sound familiar to you? Are you holding back from speaking up in meetings? (you maybe have different reasons)

I want to share this strategy with you if you're finding it challenging to voice your ideas, promote your work, your strengths, your team, and advance in your career as a leader.

When you refrain from contributing at your best, you're not playing full-out, feel less valued by your peers, and find less fulfillment in your work.

How can you increase your confidence and speak freely?

As our conversation continued, we concluded that...

  • People are interested in what is happening with them.

  • People have no time to be focused on you.

  • People focus on what they're there to do, the problem they're there to solve.

To increase your confidence and speak up, focus on the problem/discussion at hand and not you.

When we assume that people around us are primarily thinking about us, we feed the part of us that is our "narcissist." I'm using this word purposely and intentionally. Our "narcissist" tends to think the whole world revolves around us, and people are there to serve us.

The reality is that everybody is the center of their world, meaning people think about what is happening with them, their family, teams, projects, etcetera. They're not focused on what's happening with you or me.

Once you notice the "source" that is holding you back from speaking up (e.g., assuming that senior leaders are evaluating you), then flip the script. How?

One way to flip that script and empower yourself is to think, instead of what people are thinking about me, how do I want to contribute to this meeting? What value do I want to add to this meeting?

Reframe your purpose for being in the meeting, and your confidence to speak up will increase.

When we switch the perspective from "they're focused on me" to "I want to contribute to the best of my ability," then you show up entirely because it's not about you, it's about what people think about you, it's about you doing your best and your contribution.

It's about the problem we're trying to solve, how we can best solve it, and help everybody in that room sell that product/service with your expertise, for example.

There is a reason why you are in that room with them. Usually, that reason is that you happen to be one of the subject matter experts (SMEs) or stakeholders related to the meeting topic.

When you walk into the meeting knowing that you'll contribute your superpowers (strengths) and with the mindset that your #1 goal is to add value, then you get out of your own way.

Filled with confidence and a sense of generosity, you'll share your thoughts, insights, and perspective freely--from a place of contribution, not judgment, the perception that others are judging you.

Let's get back to this bright young leader. When I asked her what was different about her approach vs. the approach of her peers, she was crystal clear that she has a unique and different angle that is valuable to the conversation. She recounted how every time she contributes, the senior leaders acknowledge her and thank her.

Bringing It All Together

As I coached this young leader and connected, she realized that if she can get out of her own way and focus on what she's qualified to share with confidence--her area of expertise, everything stopping her from speaking will vanish.

After only a 60-minute strategy session, she walked away inspired and motivated with a brand new empowering perspective--she had never looked at it this way.

Sometimes, problems we believe we have emanate from making assumptions and getting in our heads. In the meantime, we stop ourselves from shining with our strengths, solving real problems, and contributing to the best of our abilities.

As a new member of our community, this talented leader is on her way to learning the "Being Principles" tool and many other strategies and techniques that will support her. She will know how to reach her full leadership potential--grow personally and professionally and contribute her knowledge and skills to succeed in her career and magnify her impact.

If you can relate, I invite you to set up a complimentary strategy session and explore how our programs can help you or your leaders. You can connect with me by visiting

In the meantime, be fearless! (act despite the fear)

Coach Ginny 💕


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About Dr. Ginny A. Baro

Dr. Ginny A. Baro is a sought-after international motivational speaker & leadership coach, a career strategist, and #1 bestselling author of Fearless Women at Work.

Ginny specializes in partnering with organization to develop leadership teams at all levels of management. And she supports individuals navigating a corporate hierarchy or moving into an entirely new phase of their career. She has successfully facilitated live and virtual leadership training and coaching programs for individuals and Fortune 500 companies with over 140,000 employees and delivered keynotes impacting international audiences larger than 7,000. To learn more, visit ExecutiveBound.

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