3 Women On How They Command The Table

Business People Sitting Around TableA few weeks ago I shared one financial exec’s advice to speak up. She encourages up-and-coming women to elbow their way into the conversations in her male skewed industry. It’s important. You can’t wait for the right time and right place. You have to make it happen. Here, three women share their tried and tested ways to get heard in a herd.

Organize the meeting so you are in control…

“When a meeting needs to be organized, I am the first to raise my hand to say I will do it so I can control the timing as well as the content in the agenda. I use initials to assign people to address each point. When the conversation gets loud or a male or female takes over, I talk louder over that said male or female to bring the meeting back to order since I called the meeting. Other times, there is more power in being quiet and waiting till the loudest is finished to then chime in. Do watch and listen for your moment to jump in. Don’t get lost with the voices in your head thinking about what you should say. Don’t get distracted by the over-talker.” – 40-something, Director of PR, NYC

Thank and switch…

“Don’t try to talk over them. I wait for the opportunity to jump in with a thank you. I thank whoever is speaking warmly for their thoughts and then segue quickly into what I want to say. Even if your point is in some way at variance with the man’s idea, they are typically disarmed by the expression of appreciation for his thoughts and it provides a moment of transition so the room can focus on what I am saying.” – 40-something, PhD Education, Los Angeles

Be strong and succinct….

“Use a strong voice. No need to be loud, but you want to be heard so don’t shy away from your words. And be succinct.  Get to your point to allow for others to add after you’ve completed your thought. And when you are interrupted, and you will be as it seems to be human nature not to want to wait for someone to finish, just say, with a smile on your face, “I’m almost finished (insert name)” and jump back to your point. If you respond with a smile on your face and call out their name (if you know it) you can take back the point and continue. – 40-something, fashion exec, San Diego

Timing is everything—don’t wait until next time to speak up, Make the time to speak now.

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