Despite the reason, other people may interpret your silence as you not wanting to be accountable or not being a team player and these misconceptions can derail your career. So, let’s address the reasons you are not contributing.
Is fear holding you back?
If you are afraid of being wrong or looking foolish or sounding nervous – you need to address it. Ty Boyd’s Excellence in Speaking course can help. Our approach to speaking in public combines peer review with professional coaching. Everybody, regardless of one’s abilities, benefits from confronting fears and insecurities associated with public speaking.
Do you need more time before committing or weighing in on an idea?
Then say so. It’s perfectly acceptable to be up front about your thinking process without coming across as evasive or non-committal. Tell your audience that your initial reaction is x, but that you need more time to analyze the data properly.
Are you prepared?
It’s always easier to speak up when you know the agenda before the meeting. This gives you the opportunity to collect your thoughts and prepare what you are going to say about the topics that will be discussed.
Do you know your audience?
Be aware of the company culture and consider the communication styles of the individuals in the meeting. If your manager likes facts – don’t give her generalizations. If your boss is a bottom line kind of guy – don’t bore him with detail.
Keep in mind that you are at the meeting because people want to hear what you have to say. You were hired for a reason and it is your responsibility to voice your opinions. Nobody expects you to know everything or always be right, but they certainly want to hear you try. They are looking to you to offer your insight and solutions; any new thinking may prompt the people in the meeting to expand in a new direction and push to develop a better solution. Do them a favor while doing yourself a favor – speak up.