Ever have a great idea in a meeting? You are so excited about it that you hurriedly explain it to your team while your voice goes up an entire octave. When you are done, you wait to have your boss praise your brilliance, but instead you get that awkward silence and those puzzled looks.
Three minutes later your colleague, Gordon Gekko brings up the same idea you did, but he says it in a slightly different way. It’s the best thing since sliced bread.
You’re left wondering “what just happened?”
So, here are the 5 steps to getting your ideas recognized in meetings:
1) You get the idea in your head.
If you are in meetings and you aren’t getting ideas, focus on being present for the meeting. Put away the smartphone and turn off messenger on your laptop. Listen and make eye contact with the speaker. By paying more close attention and being present, ideas will start to percolate.
2) Pause and take a breath. This is important. Valuable ideas can be overlooked if they are presented in a meandering, unfocused manner. Take a moment to pause and collect yourself. Take a deep breath to calm the nervous energy that organically generates when we’ve got a great idea.
3) Complete this brief outline in your notebook. Outlining is very high level and should take no more than 1-2 minutes total.
Here’s an example from my days working in healthcare brand management:
a) [State your idea in 10 words or less]:
Offer an aspirin promotion during week of Daylight Savings time.
b) [List your supporting rationale – Which of your team’s goals does this idea support?]
Sell more 325 mg aspirin.
c) [List additional supporting data – Why is this specific idea different, relevant or useful?]
More heart attacks occur during the weeks of daylight time than any other time during the year.
(I heard this factoid on NPR a few days before and had filed that info away in my ‘mental lockbox’ right next to the exact number of calories in a tall caramel Frappuccino. Yes, we keep a lot of data in our heads. It’s time we start using it to help us succeed too!)
d)[List any additional relevant supporting data]
A 325mg aspirin can save your life during a heart attack.
You probably don’t need to write out full sentences, but I did so you could follow my thinking.
4) Take a breath again and smile. Allow the nerves to settle. When the last speaker has finished his/her point, interject with yours.
5) Speak. Use a short, directed sentence to speak through your outline. Make eye contact with the whole room from your seat, but most especially with your boss.
Couple of notes:
a) If you got the idea from another person’s comment or a topic from the meeting, reference it.
“Building off of Jenny’s idea for 81 mg aspirin, here’s a way to grow our 325mg business.”
You’ll show the class we know you have, you’ll gain some karma points, and your boss will notice how you give credit where it’s due. Plus, it immediately shows that it is relevant to the topic at hand which will entice people to listen.
b) When you are about to speak, plant your feet.
Roll your shoulders back and sit up straight. Smile. Take a breath and you’ll notice that your voice will be in a lower register and you’ll exude more confidence.
c) You’ll probably have some follow-ups from your boss when s/he recognizes your brilliance! Be sure to complete those follow-ups in a timely manner and with quality. You’ll show your ownership and that your ideas matter and can be implemented.
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