During a group discussion with colleagues, friends or family, a lot of opinions get drowned in the usual humdrum of loud voices, exclamations and arguments. While you may have something unique to contribute, the overwhelming surroundings usually make it difficult to speak up and present what you would like to say. There are many who simply choose to stay silent because they believe that they do not have anything good to contribute to a discussion. They prefer to stay anonymous without anyone noticing their presence.
If we dig deep, we would find many different reasons as to why people refuse to participate or speak when present in a large group.
- Fear of rejection/ridicule – Many people stay quiet as they are afraid of being noticed if they decide to speak up or make a point. They prefer to blend into the crowd without being noticed.
- Fear of failure/mistakes – Lack of confidence creates a fear of failure which is the most common reason why many people refuse to speak up in a group.
- Fear of fumbling/stammering – Many people have faced the embarrassing situation where they have forgotten what they were supposed to say in the middle of a sentence or speech. There are many others who suffer from speech defects like stuttering or lisping which is why they prefer to keep mum during a group discussion.
Now that we have understood why people are afraid to speak up, it is time to address how to we can overcome these obstacles.
- ADVANCED PREPARATION – Advanced notice is usually provided for any kind of group discussion in professional or personal circumstances. It is better to be fully prepared with the material that you would like to contribute towards the meeting at the office or the discussion within family circles. Write down the points that you would like to make and mull over the different ways in which it can be presented. Since the other members at the meeting/discussion are likely to be known or familiar, the method of presentation can be decided based on their level of receptiveness. It also helps to rehearse what you will say in case you have stage fright or suffer from communication issues like stammering.
- APT BODY LANGUAGE – Confidence is a magnet that forces people to listen to you irrespective of their personal feelings about you. It is very important to exude confidence while speaking. Take a deep breath before you start and then speak in a loud but even voice at a slow pace. It is also essential to maintain eye contact with all the members of the group since this will compel them to maintain eye contact and listen to what you are saying. Maintain an erect posture and refrain from slouching. As the words keep flowing, confidence levels will rise, and you will be able to impress everyone with what you say.
- APPROPRIATE VOICE MODULATION – Voice modulation or dialogue delivery while speaking plays a very important role in getting your message across. Keep altering your voice modulation to highlight the importance of any specific point or to signal a change in the wavelength of your speech. Enthusiasm reflected in your voice modulation can also be spread to your listeners and they are more likely to listen as well as absorb what you are saying.
- ADEQUATE VISUAL AIDS/PROPS – The right kinds of visual aids or props can be used to provide better support to the points that you are contributing towards the discussion. A picture speaks a thousand words and people are more capable of remembering something that has been represented using visual aids.
Once you have managed to present your points in a memorable manner, people will start viewing you respectfully in a new light. Remember, confidence is the key to speaking up without fear and opening a whole new world of possibilities for you.