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4 Instant Ways To Speak Up And Be Heard

speaking up

Do you, despite your powerful ascend up the business or corporate ladder, still find yourself wrestling a knot in your belly each time you have to speak up? Or do you find yourself continually frustrated because no one hears you when you speak up?

If you are familiar with either scenario then you will be glad to know that you are not alone. According to Gemma Munro, the founder and CEO of Inkling Women, most women face a disadvantage within the workplace when it comes to speaking up and being heard.

According to her, women are interrupted three times more than men and more women have their ideas stolen, or have others take credit for their work compared to men.

“Many women have been burnt by that and by being shut down in conversations,” Gemma said. “And so they think, why bother anymore? But getting yourself heard and back into the conversation is absolutely worth persisting. And not as difficult as many think.”

These words are more than just a rallying cry from a motivational speaker. As someone with a PhD in performance psychology, Gemma has a real insight into what spurs people to move past their doubts and fears. And she has helped thousands of women buck their fear of public speaking to command the stage and the attention of their audience.

woman with drive asks Gemma about the science of speaking up and her best tips for doing so.

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What connotation does “speaking up” have for women?
For me, it holds a positive connotation. Most women want to see and hear more from female role models. We want our daughters to be able to hear more women speaking up so they can aspire to reach the heights that women before them have reached. But women who speak up can threaten the status quo of some people. And being told to speak up can be quite confronting for some women.


Why is that?
We all have a small part of our brain called the amygdala, which is often referred to as the lizard brain because we inherited it from reptiles. Its job is to keep us small and hidden so when someone demands that we do the exact opposite, it can bring up innate fears around being seen and heard, and it shuts down our courage.


Many women who speak up are wrongly perceived as being “aggressive.” How do we get past that so we can continue speaking up in the future?
Women tend to pay too much attention to the feedback we receive. The research-backed truth is that people are thinking about us only 10% as much as we assume they are. So tell yourself, “They’re not thinking about me all that much. Yes, they gave me that feedback but I can decide what to do with it. I make the choice whether to take it on or not, and in this instance, I am choosing not to.”


What are your four top tips for speaking up and being heard?

Tip #1: Learn to move past the lizard
The best way to do this is to strike a power pose like the one recommended by Amy Cuddy. Spend two minutes alone before a big meeting standing in a powerful, strong position. This will increase your confidence hormones and your performance, both in your eyes and in the eyes of others. If you do not have time, then make sure you sit in the meeting with your hands on the table, your arms wide and your shoulders back.

Tip #2: Use numbers
When someone is talking, quickly jot down some points about what you would like to say. When it is your turn, say, “I have (insert number) things to say about that.” Suddenly you sound like you are on top of all the information and incredibly clever. It is such an easy thing to do and it helps you gather your thoughts as well. People who have tried this are surprised, not just by how confident they come across to others, but also how confident they feel.

Tip #3: Re-insert yourself into the conversation if you are interrupted
Keep talking over the person who has interrupted you because it is your right and you are allowed to do that. If you are constantly interrupted, use the broken record technique. Start by saying one word like, “If”. Then say two words, “If I.” And then three, “If I could.” By the time you reach five words, everyone will be listening to you. It is a crazily simple way to get back into the conversation.

Tip #4: Summarise and suggest
If you cannot get back into the conversation, wait until the end and summarise in dot points what you have heard and your suggestions or opinion. You will sound thoughtful, considered and the smartest person in the room.

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