Getting your voice heard

May 30, 2019

When you’re new to a committee, it can be intimidating to speak up and share your ideas. The fact you’ve been selected to serve on a College committee, however, means we value your opinion, and we want to hear from you!

Whether you’re meeting in person, online or over the phone, try these seven strategies (adapted from a Mind Tools blog post) to get your voice heard:

  1. Have confidence in your own value. You’ve been invited to serve on the committee because of your expertise and potential to contribute. Whether you’re a seasoned practicing allergist, established researcher/educator or someone who’s relatively new to the field, you offer an important perspective. And if you’re a young allergist, you can certainly speak to the needs of your peers.
  2. Ask questions. If you’re not sure where you can contribute, ask questions that will give you more clarity on where your opinion is needed. Plus, it may create an opportunity for you to gain a deeper understanding of the issue.
  3. Speak up for others. If you agree with what someone has said, back up their statement and/or help expand their idea/opinion. It will show you’re attentive and engaged in the discussion.
  4. Be one of the first to speak.  Rather than waiting for others to speak up, be the first to share your thoughts and ideas. It will help start the discussion and still allow others to chime in.
  5. Embrace the skill of introversion. Being able to listen and offer a thoughtful reflection of what’s been discussed can be quite valuable to the group. Consider taking minutes and/or summarizing key discussion points from the meeting and posting them to Basecamp.
  6. Give your idea the advantage. Don’t hesitate to put your idea on the agenda. If you’re not sure if it’s something that would add value, have an offline conversation with your chair and other members of the committee to get their opinion/support prior to the meeting.
  7. Keep it short, with no apology. Avoid weakening your statement/position by starting with “I’m sorry, but…” or “I’m not sure if…” Show your conviction by using statements like “I’d like to add…”

Finally, offer to help with a project (asking to be paired with a more seasoned member if needed) and/or do some research to aid the committee in its work. When discussing an Ask the Expert inquiry, for example, see what’s been published on the topic and present your findings to the committee to aid the discussion.

The College will soon be asking committees to brainstorm project ideas for inclusion in the 2020 budget. This is a great opportunity to share your idea! You’ll receive more information from your committee chair in June.