How To Speak Up When You Have Something to Say

Despite more and more women taking on leadership roles, I still often see females not speaking up when they have something to say. And, confession: it’s happened to me…

Here’s a frighteningly recent story about a time when I tried to bow out of letting my voice be heard and learned a valuable lesson in the process:

The clock was dangerously nearing 12:30pm. Tummies were grumbling. Butts were getting sore from sitting too long. Blood sugar levels were dipping.

The sessions were running behind, and I was set to give my talk, Money: A Love Story, that morning. But I could tell that the audience was in need of a break.

“I don’t have to speak today,” I whispered to the organizer. “Let’s just take me off the agenda so we can stay on schedule, or at least I’ll just speak for 5 minutes instead of 30.”

It seemed logical. We were running over. There was too much information to cover in too little time. I would just take myself out and make it easier for everyone. Done and done.

During the lunch break, I felt a tap on my shoulder. It was the headlining speaker, who’d flown in from Florida to share his expertise with the group.

“Kate,” he said. “I heard you asked to be removed from the program or to only speak for five minutes. There are people who have driven to this event to hear you and what you have to say. You will speak for your full time because what you have to share is important.”

I felt the familiar feeling of tears pooling atop my bottom eyelids. It was one of those moments of great recognition. Coincidentally, my topic that day was about the importance of valuing ourselves. This is important in order to make more money and become a better money manager. Money is all about what we value, and we have to start with ourselves.

Yet, in asking to be removed from the program, I had slipped into an old pattern of undervaluing my own contribution. I was throwing myself under the bus once again. Turns out, we really do teach what we need to learn.

Sometimes being too conscientious of time, resources and others’ needs is a way of covering up the fact that we don’t value ourselves enough.

When we’re not giving our contribution the credit it deserves, we: 

  • Apologize for taking up too much space
  • Make ourselves small (sometimes literally by scrunching ourselves up or crossing our legs and arms too tightly)
  • Keep our hands down even when we have something to say
  • Keep our mouths shut
  • Take only 15 minutes of the 30 minutes given to us
  • Volunteer to be taken off the program

I’m so grateful the gentleman I was sharing the stage with that day said something to remind me to honor my contribution.

In the end, I gave my full 30-minute talk, and many people came up to me and said that it was exactly what they needed to hear that day.

Lesson learned: If you don’t speak up, you could be preventing someone from hearing exactly what they needed to. (Tweet it!)

So . . . Show up, speak up, grab the mic, take your time, take up space, turn up your volume, stand up tall, sing loud and proud, shake what your mama gave you, and keep yourself on the program.

Do you ever find yourself keeping your mouth shut or trying not to take up too much space? I’d love to hear your stories and thoughts in the comments!

Kate Northrup is a member of the DailyWorth Connect program. Read more about the program here.

Join the Discussion