Learning to Speak Up at Work

We’ll admit it, the workplace can be super intimating for an intern or recent grad. You’ve got the skills, qualifications, and the determination to succeed—but what about confidence in your voice? Whether you’re on the introverted side, or just aren’t used to speaking up in a work environment, don’t sweat it—we’ve got some tips!

Ask questions.

Speaking up doesn’t just mean throwing out bold suggestions and ideas at your meetings. You can start small by simply asking some questions. It’s a bit less intimidating, and it still shows you’re engaged in your work.

Questions are also perfect stepping stones to speak up even more. For example: let’s say you’re asking about a new project or initiative your team is working on. Once you understand the project, you’ll see the best ways you can start offering your input and ideas.



Share your ideas ASAP.

You’re in a meeting with this stellar idea buzzing in your head, but you’re waiting and waiting for the perfect moment to bring it up. As the meeting moves along, you start over-thinking:

“Maybe it’s actually not a good idea.”

“I’ll just wait to hear what other people suggest first.”

“Well, it’s too late now. The subject already changed.”

Sound familiar? Before the self-doubt and excuses roll in, share your idea!


And quit fearing the outcome. 

Of course it’s going to be nerve-wracking speaking up if you’re always focusing on potential negative outcomes! First of all, nix the idea that you’re not important enough to speak up. That’s right—even if you’re an intern, or if you’re just a new employee, your input is wanted. Second of all, remember that all ideas are valuable, so no one is going to berate you if they don’t agree with you!


Prepare what you want to say before meetings.

Don’t you hate it when you think of the perfect response, after you’ve already had the chance to speak? It’s easy getting flustered when you’re nervous. Try writing a brief outline of talking points before heading into your next meeting. It’ll help keep your thoughts organized so you’ll have less of those awkward flustered moments.



Avoid “weak” words and phrases.

If you don’t sound confident, you won’t feel confident. Get rid of weak phrases—like “kind of” and “sort of”—and believe in what you’re saying! Not only will you have more confidence in yourself, but the people you’re speaking with will, too.


Get to know your coworkers.

Sometimes becoming more comfortable with your colleagues is all it takes to speak up. You’re not afraid to share your opinions with your friends, are you? Similarly, you’ll build more confidence speaking up at work if you’re friendly with your coworkers. Start engaging in some small talk and get to know their hobbies and interests. Good working relationships are important for a reason!


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