… you have to sound as if you know what you know.

Ever been in a meeting and made a really good point, and people keep right on talking? Shortly thereafter, a man makes the same point and he is lauded for his great contribution. And you think to yourself, “That was my point!”

It’s time to “stand up” and take credit for your contributions. It means being more assertive and possibly even unlearning some of the things your mother taught you in good faith.

Sounding as if you know means being heard. While it may be nice to keep your voice down in your office, you may need to kick your volume up a notch or two in a meeting, especially when people may be speaking simultaneously or another starts the second someone has finished.

Lower your pitch. While society equates authority with a lower pitch, most women are born with a higher-pitched voice. You can practice lowering whenever you are alone. A good tip before answering the phone is to say, “low, low” and then “hello” into the receiver. It avoids that higher-pitched “hi” or “hello” that often happens when it is the first word said. Your first words leave a lasting impression.

Vary your tone. Add interest by emphasizing different words to get your meaning across. Just as you can make numbers say different things by how you arrange them so can you make words say different things through emphasis. One of my favorite exercises when teaching presentation skills is to take a sentence and give it different meanings simply by emphasizing different words. This is also an important skill to acquire if you spend a lot of time on conference calls.

Watch your inflection, which is where you vary your pitch and tone to achieve your purpose. It’s often common to raise your pitch on the last word when you are asking a question. “Are you going home?” Keep your pitch the same or even lower it when asking questions. Higher pitches than normal indicate nervousness or fear. That’s not what you want to convey in a meeting. Someone may even take advantage you if he thinks you are already nervous and verbally try to push you into a corner.

Keep your rate at an even keel. Speaking too quickly again can indicate nervousness and make it more difficult for others to follow your logic. Speaking too slowly can indicate a lack of knowledge, concern about being inaccurate … and is guaranteed to make type As want to finish your sentences.

Get used to interrupting and interruptions. As women, you may have been taught it is impolite to interrupt and to wait until someone is finished speaking. While that’s generally true, it is not always the way the business world works. Choose your situations wisely. If two of you start speaking simultaneously, it’s okay to crank up the volume and keep speaking. Men usually think they will get the stage because they speak louder.

Be well prepared, professional and get credit for what you know!

Author's Bio: 

Lillian Bjorseth helps you build a new kind of wealth – social capital – by improving your networking and communication skills. She’s a highly sought after international speaker, trainer, coach and author whom the Chicago Tribune calls a “networking expert” and the Association Forum of Chicagoland dubs “the business networking authority.” http://www.duoforce.com http://www.greaterchicagonetworking.com