how to ensure your voice is heard

The VOICE Approach: 5 Ways to Ensure Your Voice is Heard

In the Q&A after my keynote the other day, a woman (ironically after refusing to use the roving microphone) asked, how do I ensure my voice is heard? The truth is my biggest fear is that I will speak up and no one will listen– so I’ve stopped trying”

We chatted for a moment about really considering what “the worst thing that could happen” if she tried and failed. And what would happen if she let the FOSU (fear of speaking up) win, and didn’t speak at all.  And then she said, “But what if they use the same idea when someone else says it?”

Eager eyes awaited my response. Apparently, she wasn’t the only one facing that challenge.

5 Ways to Ensure Your Voice is Heard:  The VOICE approach

First, when someone offers you a mic, take it. If someone else has to repeat what you say, you’ve already lost some impact. Sometimes the mic is metaphorical (like pulling your chair up to the table if you’re sitting on the sidelines). Here are a few other additional tips.


Visualize what you are going to say and how you’re going to say it. Include it all–the eye contact, the sitting up tall with an open stance, strong projection and confident tone. Visualize their receptive response. It’s much easier to feel confident when you’ve practiced.

O- Organize 

Organize your thoughts in advance. Make an outline if needed. Consider the key points that will support your point of view. Know your opening sentence, so you won’t be tempted to start with a pre-apology (e.g. “This may be a bad idea, but…”)

I- Inquire

If possible do your homework in advance and be aware of other’s opinions on the topic. If you can, do some stakeholdering in advance, so you know there will be some nodding heads when you being to share your ideas. If you’re responding spontaneously, then ask for feedback. (e.g. “How do you think this idea could impact our project?”)

C- Consider

Listen carefully to the opinions and ideas of others. Thank them and respond appropriately, building on and integrating their ideas if possible. If you know the objections, it can be helpful if you’re the one who brings them up first. “Now you may be thinking ______ (insert objection here) and then address it.

E- Energize

Stay energetic in your delivery. It’s hard to ignore someone is genuinely passionate about their point of view.

Most important, be sure you believe what you have to say. If you’re unsure, your audience will be equally skeptical.

See Also: Dealing With Difficult Stakeholders

Posted in Career & Learning, Communication, Confident Humility and tagged , , .

Karin Hurt

Karin Hurt helps human-centered leaders resolve workplace ambiguity and chaos, so that they can drive innovation, productivity and revenue without burning out employees. 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. Change their energy by tapping into their emotions with a story.

    I’ve found storytelling to be a powerful way to moving people from where they are to where they want to go.

  2. Love this post, Karin as it reminds all leaders to speak up and not fear the worst.

    All your points are excellent and I would just add that when we own our voice and practice using it, we are more able to share our ideas. The more we believe in who we are and what we stand for, the more successful our sharing will be.

    When working with leaders, I encourage them to be authentic and true to themselves. Their voice will come from that real place.

    Thanks Karin!

  3. I love all of your points, Karin!

    I’m also a big believer in networking! I feel it’s essential to get to know the “language” that other successful people use so you can better convey your thoughts in a way that will make an immediate impact on leadership.

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