Do you get nervous speaking up in meetings? It can be even more difficult to say something when you have a point that’s challenging for others to hear. However, even when what you want to say is relatively innocuous, it’s still easy to tie yourself in a knot of self-consciousness about opening your mouth.
I’ve been there, and have found that one of the keys to overcoming the problem is to have a formula to ‘hang’ your message onto. Today’s formula is from the book Fat Free Meetings by Burt Albert (1996). He talks about delivering a whole message, not just a fragment, in order to avoid misunderstandings or aggravation. Burt’s whole message formula is this:
delivered in this specific order.
Here’s an example. Firstly, an incomplete message: you’re in a meeting and your boss says “I don’t reckon we’ll get the reports out in time by Friday.” She then stops, and others pile in with their opinions.
Now here’s the complete message – all 4 elements, in the given order:
Observation: I don’t reckon we’ll get the reports out in time by Friday. Thoughts: this means that we stuff up the entire system, because all the other departments then have to wait for us; feelings: this really annoys me, because it makes us look incompetent, and we need the opposite in order to get extra funding in the new year. Needs: I need us all to go back to our desks and make this our A1 priority for the rest of the day.
You might be thinking, well that takes longer. And yes, it does, but using the formula means that you’re clear and concise, and this can save you a lot of stress and time in the long run. Plus if you focus well on delivering the formula, you feel less self-conscious – really!
Action tip: practise this at home on your own, using different topics; then perhaps try it out with a friend or family member. The complete message idea becomes more smooth and natural the more you use it, and it can be very helpful to have a formula to use, especially if you have trouble fighting self-consciousness when speaking in meetings.