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How to speak effectively in group settings

 

In order for you to grow your passion into something more, you are bound to work with people. The simple nature of the fact that there is not enough time in a day is no exception for anybody. Even individual contributors are dependent on other people to deliver more, faster. Either you aced an interview and joined a team or perhaps you have acquired a dream team of your own, the obvious question now is how do you continue to be an effective contributor. Many people’s gut response is to talk as much and as often as they can. Perhaps you’re an incredibly helpful person or maybe you’re just eager to fit in. There is nothing wrong with neither; these are great personality traits! However, the truth is you can easily come off looking awkward, especially if you’re joining an already well-established organization.

 

Here are some helpful hints for how you might think about carrying yourself:

 

Things to NOT Do

 

Obvious thing sayers

Yes, you might have gotten some words in, but if you mention something everyone already knows then it looks like you’re a shallow thinker. The benefit is that everyone knows you’re on the right page. The negative is that you can come off looking pretty junior if you are saying obvious things more often than not.

 

Speaker of the irrelevant

In every work conversation, there is always a theme to that conversation. You have to acutely aware of what it is and what the goal of the theme is. Anything else can be construed as tangents or irrelevant-to-the-group discussions. The more people in the room the more likely this is going to happen. It’s bound to happen, but you don’t want to be the person that drove the irrelevant conversions, do you? This becomes pretty evident when you start seeing people move their attention to their personal laptops.

 

The Ramble

Sometimes your point is good but failed at communicating the point across. You might have gotten nervous by the audience listening or maybe it’s a more complex topic than you thought. These things happen to the best of us! 

 

Dick Delivery

the title sounds crass because that’s what the person sounds like when he says it: a dick. People may have the best intentions and best ideas, but if the message’s delivery passive-aggressively contradicts other people in the room, or belittles even people, not in the room, the person will come off sounding like an ass. No one wants an ass on the team. It’s poison to company culture and that one person will never be worth the benefit of an entire cohesive team.

 

So now to the good news. You can easily fix these by following these better habits! Here are some helpful hints for what to do:

 

Things to Do

 

Listen

Pro-tip, if you listen you will learn. Everyone will tell you this. However, what’s just as important is you need a good listening face. Seriously! If your listening face looks like you’re a deer in headlights, I guarantee you that you’re going to have a problem. I hope that you are truly interested and curious about the work conversations that you’re listening to. We are talking about working on your success, after all. However, boring conversations happen, especially when speakers of the irrelevant take over a meeting. Think thinking face 

 

Ask questions

If you can think of complex ideas that piggyback the conversation at hand, even if you know the answer to the question, it’d be good to verbalize it as a question. This gets the group involved and makes it look like you’re constantly thinking about the next steps!

 

Speak like Ernest Hemmingway writes (read: terse)

To prevent rambling and, dick delivery, and looking like you care about the obvious things a bit too much, talk in short to-the-point sentences. Add please, thank you, and context of why you’re saying what you said will make you sound like a boss in no time. 

 

Comment at the end

Without fail, you’ll notice really senior-level people do is that they let everyone duke it out and work out the kinks, but he or she only mediates when it needs to be done. Then at the end of the meeting, provide a short summary of the discussion points and then highlight the next steps. This will easily make you look like you control the room and prevent you from saying anything stupid because 90% of what you said is said by somebody else already. People will think you’re a great listener (ie. summary) and that you’re a good people manager (ie. providing next steps). One thing to note though… This is great when you have a large room of participants. However, if it’s a super short and obvious conversation and you did this then it just looks like you were in the meeting to boss people around. 

 

Learn from others

No one has not spoken stupid things. Remember that so that you can do two things with it:

  1. Be self-aware so that when you say something stupid, recognize it and learn where you did wrong
  2. Be externally aware so that when someone else says something stupid, notice how the room reacted and notice how that person reacted. Did he/she recover from it? Was he/she oblivious to it? Was the room oblivious (perhaps it wasn’t actually stupid)? etc…

 

Hope this article helps! Please hit us up if you have any questions or concerns.

 

Good luck on your journey towards success!

 

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