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Is This Phone on Mute? 6 Tips for Speaking To Be Heard

by | Feb 19, 2013 | By Karin Hurt, Communication |

Have you ever been in a meeting where 2 people said exactly the same thing but one person got heard and the other did not? Have you ever been on a conference call and felt like you were speaking to the mute button? Perhaps you know that feeling of being ignored.

Sometimes its position. If you are the boss, your speaking will likely be heard. Sometimes its politics that happens. But often, you can give yourself a fighting chance with some careful preparation and positioning.

There is big risk in assuming it’s position or politics. It’s easy to blame the system. But before you shut down, it’s worth trying some new approaches to your speaking patterns.

Speaking To Be Heard

I was fortunate early in my career to have a great teacher on timing. My company had hired a consultant to do some important process work. I was a kid and the token HR person in the room– not the best combo for being heard. And, I was fired up and passionate about treating employees with respect, transparency, engagement (some things stay with us). The first few times I shared what I thought were vital points, I was ignored. The consultant pulled me aside on a break and said,

“everything you are saying is right on, but they can’t hear you, your timing is off.” Here’s the deal when I give you the look, you start talking employee engagement (not before). I will back you up, and ask provocative questions for them to consider.”

It worked masterfully. My voice was heard, and we started caring for the people side of the project. I paid close attention to the timing of her nods and learned the patterns. I was promoted shortly after.

6 Tips for Sending a Hearable Message

  1. Do your homework (what do people believe on this subject and why?)
  2. Bring a fact based-argument (what data do you have to support your case?)
  3. Stay calm with an even tone of voice (let the passion come through in the message, not volume)
  4. Wait for an appropriate time in the conversation to create a natural bridge to your ideas
  5. Respectfully listen to the opinions of others, and build on their ideas (resist the urge to tune out and prepare your bit)
  6. When possible, consider some advanced work with key stakeholders
  7. ? what would you add?

Karin Hurt

Karin Hurt helps human-centered leaders find clarity in uncertainty, drive innovation, and achieve breakthrough results.  She’s the founder and CEO of Let’s Grow Leaders, an international leadership development and training firm known for practical tools and leadership development programs that stick. She’s the award-winning author of four books including Courageous Cultures: How to Build Teams of Micro-Innovators, Problem Solvers, and Customer Advocates and Winning Well: A Manager’s Guide to Getting Results-Without Losing Your Soul and a hosts the popular Asking For a Friend Vlog on LinkedIn. A former Verizon Wireless executive, Karin was named to Inc. Magazine’s list of great leadership speakers. Karin and her husband and business partner, David Dye, are committed to their philanthropic initiative, Winning Wells – building clean water wells for the people of Cambodia.


  1. Rowena

    You really make it seem so easy with your presentation but I find this matter
    to be really something which I think I would never understand.
    It seems too complicated and extremely broad for me.
    I am looking forward for your next post, I will try to get the hang
    of it!

    • letsgrowleaders

      Rowena, thanks for your comment. Glad to have you in the conversation. It is indeed a complex issue, but I believe one worth exploring.


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