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Woulda…coulda…shoulda! Many have felt remorse and concern about not contributing in meetings and conversations, especially when you actually had something of value to say. Myriad reasons exist for not adding your ideas to the communication mix: anxiety, over talkative colleagues, time pressure, etc. I can easily accept all of these as reasons for keeping your opinions and ideas mum. However, I less readily accept not knowing how to insert your point as a reason not to share. To this end, I provide my consulting clients and MBA students with the following tips for speaking up:

Lead with a connection. Use a concept that was just being discussed as your commencing statement and then immediately link it to your contribution.

Ex: In a discussion where your colleague was just discussing a product’s release timeline, you might say: “The product’s release date most certainly requires additional resources be committed.”

Lead with an emotion. Share your feelings about what is being discussed as your way of entering your input.

Ex: “I am very concerned about the resources allocated to this product.”

Lead with a shared value. Tap into a corporate or societal value as your initiating line.

Ex: “Our value of delighting our customers compels us to provide more resources prior to releasing this product.”

Lead with a question. Phrase your input as a clear and concise (and perhaps leading) question.

Ex: “How would the product release be made better by adding more resources to work on it?”

Your ideas and opinions matter. And, if the environment and timing are right, you should certainly share them. The four suggestions provided above are very useful on ramps for you to initiate your contribution and be heard.