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Convening with colleagues? Consider these five standout strategies from leadership coach Amy Jen Su.
Know Why You’re There “Before you walk into the room, think about what you intend to contribute,” Su says. “If you undervalue yourself, you end up being passive or not speaking at all; if you overvalue your contributions, you may take up too much air share and bulldoze other meeting-goers.”
Consider Peer Perspectives “Think about the interests of the people involved, and be skillful about how you present ideas to them. If you anticipate pushback, bring up the hot-button issues yourself, rather than waiting for someone else to do it. This shows that you’ve already considered opposing points of view.”
Be Aware of Body Language “Most of your impact is nonverbal—posture, eye contact, volume, even the way you take up space. Some people spread their materials across the table, but this can come off as invasive. Others are very respectful of space, sometimes to their detriment. If you sit in the back or off to the side, you can appear unwilling to be involved.”
Frame Your Ideas “The way an idea is framed can deem whether or not it’s accepted. It has nothing to do with sugarcoating or manipulating; it’s about helping people focus. One technique is to tie what you say to a bigger picture or specific goal. Another is to use an analogy that brings the concept to life. For example, if you want to change the way in which your colleagues work together, tell them they should operate more like a soccer team than a swim team.”
Play Verbal Tennis “No one likes a talking head, so it’s important to avoid monologues. Engage others in a way that resembles tennis play. Express your point of view succinctly, then quickly involve the group by asking questions or acknowledging specific colleagues in your discussion. If the meeting reaches an impasse, a great question can keep things going.”
Amy Jen Su is the co-author of Own the Room: Discover Your Signature Voice to Master Your Leadership Presence.
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