How to Sound Smart in a Meeting? Conveying Confidence, Competence, and Creativity
If you found your way to this article from the tantalising title, buckle up for a quick ‘cheat’ guide on how you can sound smart in a business meeting! We kid, of course; we know that one of the more painful parts of a 9-to-5, corporate job is the countless meetings you find yourself in. From helming one to just being a passive member, these meetings can be painful to manage, especially if you are not prepared to be engaged.
Even with thorough preparation, your “smart” content may be easily undone by a delivery method that lacks confidence. From a public speaking and communication angle, the aim is to exude credibility so that your meeting audience members are compelled to trust your words. For today’s article, we want to focus on 3 quick technique you can immediately try out in your next meeting to sound more confident, competent, or creative!
Technique #1: Wait, Think, and Ponder
Most of us abhor silence – it leaves room for your audience to scrutinise you during your delivery. However, a thinking pause may be advantageous, especially in a high-pace, high-stakes, and high-stress environment. Resist the temptation to launch straight into a response, even if the question is directed at you. Instead, maintain a thoughtful stance by carefully unpacking the question and your response before sharing the latter.
While we encourage you to wait, think, and ponder, remember not to let your mind wander! This technique is not meant for you to try and escape answering a question. The rationale for your pause should be the desire to deliver the best response to the question. For example, a question that only requires a short, simple response may not require a long pause. In contrast, a complicated question which various factors/layers to consider may benefit from a carefully-thought-out response. Take your time with the meeting scenarios and show that you take each query seriously!
*** This is the first time I’ve encountered this questions, please allow me to take a few seconds ***
Technique #2: “That is an Interesting Point …”
You may have heard the saying that imitation is the best form of flattery. Before you rush off to copy your bosses’ actions during your next meeting, let us clarify this technique. Echoing or summarising the other party’s points can help you to establish rapport and exhibit active listening skills. An individual who took the effort to summarise or acknowledge a response is less likely to appear self-centred or focused on themselves.
Use this 3-step framework for summarising or acknowledging the other person’s answer. First, pick out the key concern or issue that is being highlighted. Signpost that clearly, e.g., “I understand that this issue is important to you …”. Second, find common ground or interest that you can use to frame your response. If nothing is connecting you and the other party, explore potential areas of overlap, e.g., “We may not be on the same page on this but how about considering …”. Third, remember to still respond to the main question or concern – you are not trying to avoid the question!
Technique #3: Consolidate, Collate, and Combine
We know that most meetings suffer from an insufferable duration. Imagine having to sit through hours of conversations, discussions, and presentations before digesting the main deliverables from the meeting. Instead of being the passive observer, take an active role in consolidating the shared points and summarising them for the benefit of the entire meeting attendees.
Here are three consolidation or summary methods you can use to make your input effective. First, categorise your summary in relation to the main deliverables. Think in terms of priority or chronology, e.g., “To sum up, we all agreed that the highest priority task is …”. Second, try grouping your summary based on the key stakeholders – who needs to complete what? Third, keep an eye out for the future in your summary by ensuring that you leave room for others to contribute. This is ultimately a group conversation effort!
The three techniques above may help you to boost that slight confidence; however, without prior preparation, you are likely to still face the same tough fate with meetings. Substance should still matter, and these techniques are not mere gimmicks to apply unnecessarily. That said, if you find yourself needing that extra edge during your meeting, try one of the techniques above!
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