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Five Things Not to Say in Your Next Board Meeting

Five Things Not to Say in Your Next Board Meeting

As women, we have historically not been easily welcomed into the power spaces of the business world, including high-powered meetings or discussions in the boardroom. With a huge shift around this occurring, we, as women, are starting to have a seat at the table but still struggle with how our voice fits into the room.

This self-doubt in how to present ourselves, especially in a space where we've been taught to step back and listen, can lead to freezing and un-seized opportunities. Being able to have a clear sense of what to avoid saying in these spaces provides us the the freedom to say everything else from our zone of genius.

So, let me make it simple. Here are five things to never say again in the boardroom.

1) "May I add..."

Rather than asking for permission to include your amazing thoughts and innovations, speak your truth with a more direct approach.

Stating "I love that [speaking to the previous thought stated] and would add..." positions you to keep the dialogue moving forward, with your thoughts leading the way.

By waiting for someone else to lead you into the discussion, you may lose the opportunity to share your ideas, as the next person has already begun taking the floor.

[Related: Do You Think, Maybe, You Could Possibly Read This? If It's Not a Problem?]

2) “Did you see on page…”

My guess is, your hope in this approach is to move everyone to a point of reference on a specific page of a briefing or report, subtly. That they will casually be moved in the direction where you are hoping to bring the conversation.

But why miss out on the opportunity to get straight to your point? Instead, try: “When you look at page…” With this prompt, you are not only directing your audience to your area of interest, but also maintaining the floor, giving you space to tie your focus to your central point.

3) "I'm not really sure."

When you are unsure, it may be tempting to announce it. Being honest about your level of expertise at work can be essential. But how you frame this statement is also essential.

By placing the focus on your uncertainty, you are moving the focus away from you and the ways that you can contribute. Instead, being able to state, “While this is not my area of expertise, I am sure that we could loop in [name of possible contributor], as this is their strength.” Here you are able to still help the team make progress and show your knowledge of resources.

[Related: Seven Tips For Succeeding as a Woman in a Man’s World]

4) “Oh, go ahead…”

I am absolutely guilty of this one (and all of the above) periodically. Wanting to be polite, as women, we are taught to yield our position, share, and be respectful of those around us.

While some of these attributes are quite admirable, in contexts such as this example, you are left waiting behind someone else. Rather than this approach, smile politely and then try to complete your thought.

This example is tricky, because it depends on who the other speaker is. With your intuition, I have faith in your ability to customize this further.

5) “What was it that you said last week?”

This approach screams, to me, wanting to be accurate and do due diligence before speaking, something I am a huge fan of! However, it also shifts the conversation away from your focus and allows the person that you are referencing to pick it up from there.

Instead, say something like, “Upon reflecting on your point about [general statement]...” or, if that feels too ambiguous, “While I am having difficulty remembering the exact details on your point about [topic], I remember that it prompted me to think…” This approach will allow your team to follow along and clarify later.

Having mastery of these five small changes in direct communication can massively shift your ability to be heard at work and share your insights in the most important meetings. Don’t let our history hold you back from getting what you deserve today, because this is what our ancestors fought for!

[Related: The Power of Being the Only Woman in the Room]

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Want more tips on how to power up your life at work and in love? Mollie Eliasof is Executive Coach and Couples Therapist to New York and California's most high powered professionals. Learn more free weekly tips from her podcast.


Have more questions? Follow up with the expert herself.

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