4 fears that stop people from speaking in meetings (and how to overcome them!)

If you’re new to a job or at the bottom of the pecking order, meetings can be structured anxiety attacks. At the beginning you won’t know where to sit, how to sit, if you should be taking notes, if you should avoid eye contact, if you just offer some sacrificial offering etc. Meetings are a hotbed of workplace contention so don’t worry if you fear them initially.

Considering the emphasis placed on personal branding and visibility in the workplace, having a voice is sometimes directly correlated to employees that are worth keeping around. We’re not suggesting that you have to kick up a fuss every time you have a thought that slightly opposes the consensus but making sure you voice your concerns is important; as is speaking up in meetings.

Here are four common fears many people have about meetings and how to overcome them.

1. You’re not popular enough

There is sound logic to be found in the practice that by not making a negative impression, you’re going to stay in everyone’s good books. There are some situations where that will work for you but most of the time you just won’t be noticed. If you’re afraid to speak up because you might feel as if you’re undercutting your colleagues, who cares? If they’re being undercut by your ideas, that’s their problem, not yours.

2. Your ideas aren’t good 

The loudest ideas get remembered, not always the best ones. If you need encouragement about sharing your ideas, listen to the ideas of the loudest person in the room and count how many are just plain bad. Probably quite a few. Take solace in that.

3. You’re not senior enough

The workplace hierarchy is only important to those at the top of it. Plead ignorance and talk to your higher ups, with respect, like they were on your level. At the end of the day they’re still people who need your help to make the business work.

4. You’ve never spoken before, people would think it weird if you started

There’s a first time for everything! This is definitely an excuse many people tell themselves but you’ve got to remember that the only person who is paying attention to you is you.