How to be heard

Most jobs and positions include serious time spent in communication, for example in meetings and negotiations, but getting through to others is often more about how you express your thoughts than how loudly you speak.


Fast Company suggests five effective communication strategies to get your voice heard:

1. Always show up and be ready to pitch

Simple as it may sound, getting people to listen to you begins with being present–both physically and mentally – at the table alongside those you’re looking to reach. Assume that your audience is busy and that your window to get through to them is narrow, and then do your homework. Arrive with a few concrete ideas around potential solutions you’re ready to propose as well. Your presence and preparedness will help demonstrate that you are reliable, respectful, and open to listening, which should in turn make others more likely to listen to you.

2. Hone your EQ

A little investment in your emotional intelligence (or EQ) can go a long way in helping you focus your communication. How would the audience you would like to reach want this framed? What have they been responsive to in the past? Show people you appreciate them.

3. Know your weaknesses

In communication, self awareness is key. As you practice meeting others where they are, it’s equally important to be willing to look in the mirror and work on addressing your weaknesses. As you prepare to present to a group or have an important conversation with your boss, identify your own ticks or tendencies that may prevent your audience from seeing you as you wish to be seen.

4. Use silence as a strategy

Making good use of your audience’s time doesn’t have to mean filling every moment of face time with dialogue. Think’ before you speak. A good rule of thumb in meetings: Pause after you share a complete thought. That’ll give you a chance to read the room, hear reactions, and focus on being mindful and purposeful. When you’re frustrated, use a pause as an opportunity to remind yourself what will actually be most helpful. Wait until you’ve reconnected with what you want to communicate before breaking that silence.

5. Follow up and through

It’s important to be reliable and follow through on any action items you’ve committed to, but especially if you’ve felt ignored or overlooked. If, after a meeting with your boss where you said you would reach out to XYZ colleague post-meeting, make sure you do so, and let your boss know it has been done. Before sending updates, ask yourself: Is my communication intentional and purposeful? Does it move the needle forward for the work ahead? 


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