There’s no question that working during the Covid-19 pandemic has been challenging—especially when it comes to making your voice heard when you're not physically in an office.
“Women sometimes would rather just put the mute button on and take the video down,” said Know Your Value’s Mika Brzezinski during a recent conversation with Keesha Boyd, an organizational psychologist and executive director of Multicultural Video & Entertainment at Comcast.
In fact, 45 percent of women business leaders admit that it’s difficult for them to speak up in virtual meetings, and one in five women say they felt overlooked or ignored by colleagues in video calls, according to a recent report by Catalyst, a nonprofit focused on accelerating women in the workplace.
Remaining silent, however, will not get you very far in your career. In order to succeed and stand out in the workplace, you must amplify your voice, explained Boyd.
Brzezinski and Boyd discussed strategies to amplify your voice in the workplace as part of Know Your Value’s new “LEVELING UP” series.
Below are six tactics to keep in mind:
1. Know your story
“It starts with understanding what it is you want to amplify,” said Boyd. “I can’t stress how important it is for you to understand your value.”
This begins with truly identifying your story that you want to share with others on your team. “What is that bumper sticker about you that you want people to be aware of?” Boyd asked. “What is it that you bring to the workplace that you think is uniquely you?”
“Be clear about what the message is that you want to amplify and then find spaces, places, ways to communicate that,” Boyd added. She explained that there are lots of opportunities to do this, from quick conversations with peers to kicking off meetings.
Boyd suggested starting a kick-off meeting with an intro such as, “I’m a builder. I love taking a thing and building it from the ground up. If it’s something that hasn’t been done before, give that thing to me. I love to explore and find new ways to do things, which is why I’m incredibly excited to be a part of this project.”
Find spaces and places to introduce who you are from a brand perspective. and push that narrative forward about yourself.
2. Memorialize your idea
After you’ve completed an important project, there’s a final step to follow through with: Have an artifact that captures your idea on paper and share it with your team, Boyd suggested.
The idea is pretty simple. If you create this artifact, it gets passed on. You make it easy for others to share your success by leaving behind a PowerPoint or one-pager that captures the process that you used to deliver something. This makes it easy for others to speak to your work and your competence.
“It’s now on paper and can be passed around,” Boyd said. “I can’t stress enough the importance of memorializing your ideas.”
3. Assert yourself
In the workplace, asserting yourself is key—especially for women.
Communication differences between genders begin early on in life. For example, young boys are socialized to communicate. They talk over one another and keep the conversation going. If you observe the same age group of young girls, there’s a sort of dance where the girls speak, stop, listen and take turns.
In corporate boardrooms, you may see a similar dynamic play out. “Sometimes a woman will wait for a turn to say something. Other times you’ll find yourself in a room full of individuals, particularly of men, who are speaking, and if you’re waiting for a moment to interject your point, you might not get ever that moment,” Boyd said.
Follow the pace of the conversation in the room, but assert yourself to get your opinion in there.
4. Practice using a rich, robust, calm voice
Often times, “women feel like they need to fill the room with words,” Brzezinski said. “We are always encouraging women to speak up… We also have to leave some room for pauses and for listening.”
“That actual sound of the voice, it gets really high up in the neck when you’re stressed,” Brzezinski added.
A rich, robust, calm, powerful voice can bring you very far in the workplace. It shows a sense of control and confidence.
5. Focus on a past achievement
If you’re in a new meeting, think about a past accomplishments and draw on an experience where you’ve been successful in the past to give you that confidence boost you need.
Brzezinski suggested practicing some dialogue about your past accomplishments.
“Anything that shows your passion, your joy, your gratitude, your appreciation—but at the same time, you get in a little about you,” Brzezinski said.
6. Take a class
Boyd attended a class to learn how to use her voice as a tool in the moment. She participated in a Speakeasy course that enlisted a speech pathologist. In this class, Boyd said she learned how to drop the back of her tongue and add a little more bass when needed. These vocalizations are critically important and can truly help make a lasting impression, she explained.
When speaking in a calm, methodical manner, you should remember to take moments to pause and take a deep breath. This gives you a lot of range and shows control and power—simply in the way that you have control over your own voice.
“Your role when speaking to a room of people is to engage them,” Boyd said.