It doesn’t matter how good you are at you job; if no one knows about you, you increase the likelihood of staying in the same role for a long time… You have to get out there and sing your song! You probably know the stats from Harvey Coleman on how people get on at work: 10% is quality of work, 30% is the image you present to the world, and 60% is putting yourself out there. (I paraphrase.) ‘Putting yourself about’ requires a bit of courage but can pay huge dividends. Very few silent people become well known (at least, not in a good way!)
Tip One is resolve to say something in every meeting you attend. If you’re nervous say it as soon as you can. Do your research which will increase your confidence in what you want to say, and then say it at the earliest possible opportunity. When we wait too long to speak the pressure builds up and we sometimes squeak out our contribution sounding odd even to ourselves. Or worse, our nerves make us sound aggressive as we blurt what we want to say as soon as we can. We’ve all done that one, I suspect.
Tip Two It sounds counterintuitive, but number one skill in being more outspoken is learning to be a good listener. Not a good ‘hearer’, but a really good listener. Good listeners can be very powerful people as they tend to know what is really going on. And not just the act of listening to words, but taking on body language, how people interact, who has power (regardless of formal roles), getting the whole picture. Listening is very respectful, too, and sends a positive message from you to the speaker.
Tip Three Men and women listen differently. We give out different cues and signs. There is one important difference to be aware of; women tend to give lots of visual indications of listening – nodding heads and making mmm sounds. Men tend to listen more impassively, although they do nod. When a man nods he is generally saying “I agree, you can move on.”. When a woman nods she is generally saying “I understand, carry on.” There is a lot of potential for misunderstanding here.