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Frustrated that you keep getting told to “speak up”?

Many people in organisations – men and women – get told to speak up more. It seems women get told to more often, and quieter women get told even more often. The Quietly Powerful Women’s survey indicated that out of 97 respondents, 85% said they get told to speak up.


In the QPW introductory breakfasts, women shared some of the common frustrations and challenges around speaking up including:

  • Why would I speak up when people won’t listen or I get spoken over
  • I don’t want to waste time by saying things that have already been said
  • I can’t think of the right things to say on the spot
  • The topic has moved on by the time I have a useful idea to share
  • I don’t want to be someone that speaks for the sake of speaking
  • There’s no space for me to jump in with so many extroverts/strong personalities


Unfortunately for these women, and disappointingly for their team and organisation, many of them try but give up out of frustration. Except when they don’t – and they contribute enormous quality. I’m sure you know quieter people who may not always speak a lot but when they do, it’s GOLD. For many talented quieter women, there’s so much quality thinking going on in their minds but they don’t get heard and receive the recognition they deserve.


So for these women, while it’s frustrating and challenging, it’s worth developing skills and strategies to speak up in a way that’s authentic. Aim for quality, not quantity. Differentiate yourself by the way in which you contribute.


The thing to remember is, there are good reasons why you get told to speak up:

  • They want to hear what you’re thinking
  • They want to see that you are engaged
  • They know you know stuff and they want you to contribute
  • They want to tap into your unique perspectives, even if the topic is not in your area of expertise
  • They see great potential in you and they want you to succeed


Also remember that if you remain invisible or misunderstood, you can miss out on promotions, good performance reviews and jobs you want and deserve.


As a leader, how are you supporting people beyond telling them to speak up? Just like confidence, people don’t speak up more just because you tell them they need to (see Don’t tell me to “Be more confident”).


One of the invisible drivers that hold us back is the internal voice, as shared in Why we tell ourselves “I can’t” rather than “I can”. We need to build confidence from the inside-out and have ways to deal with the inner voice.


Join us or encourage others to join the two November Melbourne events on the theme of Building Your Confident Presence, brought to you by the Quietly Powerful Women’s initiative. Early bird prices end this Friday, 14th October.

1) Speak Out! Powerful use of voice half day workshop by Richard Lawton. 9th November 9:00-13:00. When you register for the voice workshop you will get a code to attend the confidence breakfast for free.

2) QPW breakfast on practical confidence building. 22nd November 7:30-9:30. Group discounts available for 5 or more people – please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for details.


Quietly Powerful Women’s introductory breakfasts are also happening, with 180 women having attended in 2 months. The last October breakfast in Melbourne has limited seats left and another event is planned for Sydney. Please join us for, or tell others about the Melbourne breakfasts and the waitlist for Sydney breakfast to be informed of future events.


Related articles:

The Double Glazed Glass Ceiling

Are you ‘covering’ your quieter self?

Introversion is not a disorder and femininity does not equal weak

Quietly Powerful – an oxymoron or truth

White paper: Quietly Powerful – be heard, get ahead and make a difference without feeling fake as a quieter professional woman 

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