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How to be heard in meetings – secrets to overcoming the men who hijack your ideas!

You’re in a meeting and put your idea forward yet it doesn’t make it to the whiteboard, or into the budget.  Until one of your male colleagues picks it up, reframes it and claims it as his own… to the great fanfare from the rest of your team. Does this sound familiar?  And what can you do to change the outcome? How to be heard in meetings, and how to get your initiatives onto the strategic agenda, is one of the most common issues raised by the mentees and female audiences I work with.  
So what can you do to make sure your voice is heard?

   1. Be clear.  Just as being heard is a common issue for women, my male colleagues tell me regularly they don’t hear what it is we’re asking for!  Keep it brief – focus on the key outcome your idea will deliver.  Sometimes this will be enough, but if you’re asked to give more detail, provide a high level overview of how you’ll achieve it. 

   2. Avoid using meetings to launch new ideas – syndicate them beforehand if possible with colleagues to get their buy in.  This way you’ll already have supporters in the meeting you can turn to for back up.

   3. Wait for the right moment to contribute.  I learnt this from my friend Mark who’s a lawyer and the best listener I’ve known.  He taught me to wait til other people have had their say, and to look for the gaps… so that your solution, when offered, is the most obvious and complete solution on the table.

   4. Own your ideas.  When you’ve raised an idea with colleagues in catchups or meetings, follow up with an email outlining your key points and the support you’re looking for.  If you’re in the meeting and someone hijacks your suggestion, repeat your initial points and point out the resemblance to your own IP.

   5. Be persistent.  Don’t expect to get a yes on the first try!  It takes on average three to four  attempts to get to yes, so manage your expectations accordingly and expect to repeat and rephrase your request til you get what you want.

These are my ideas – and I’m sure you have more!  Post your comments here on The SheEO Blog and share your secrets to successfully being heard – we have a copy of How to Bake a Business by Julia Bickerstaff to give away for the best suggestion this week.

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