What strategies, Reeves asked, do you use to make sure you are heard—and, by implication, impressive—in meetings?
Here were some of the women’s answers:
Amplify the voices of fellow women: The strategy of “amplification,” most famously employed by women of the Obama White House, relies on women supporting each other, collectively. It works like this, as the Washington Post explained: “When a woman made a key point, other women would repeat it, giving credit to its author. This forced the men in the room to recognize the contribution—and denied them the chance to claim the idea as their own.”
Repeat, repeat, repeat: Foster a we’re-in-this-together sense of community in the group, for everyone involved in the meeting, by explicitly acknowledging the contributions of others. Begin a comment, for example, with something like, “Let me build on what Bill said,” and then go from there.
Use humor liberally: Tell jokes! Make things fun for people! This is generally good advice.
Set expectations for your contribution: Begin a comment by saying something like, “I have three points to make”—and then make those points systematically. It’ll make you seem organized. It’ll also make you less likely to be interrupted.
Imitate, tastefully but shamelessly: Observe who, in a meeting or other group setting, seems to get paid the most attention to by higher-ups or fellow participants. And, then, imitate those people. If their approaches—their gestures, their tone of voice, their general manner of expressing themselves—are getting them heard, mimicking those approaches should help to do the same for you.
Stand up: No, but literally. For phone meetings, in particular. This is especially helpful for tough conversations: Standing up, for one thing, you’ll feel more confident and powerful. Also, as Gillian Tett argued, your voice will literally be lower when you’re standing, giving it a boost of gravitas.
Take up space: Again, literally. In physical meetings, spread out. Lean forward when seated at a table. Own your own presence, physically and otherwise.
Be loud: Yes, literally again! Too many women, Jean Case said, speak meekly and quietly. Don’t be one of them. Speak up. Your voice, projected across the room, will also project confidence.
Don’t say “I’m sorry.” Unless you really should say you’re sorry.
Fake it ‘til you make it: If you’re feeling shy, pretend to be bold. If you’re feeling like you don’t belong, convince yourself that you do. Act. Pretend. Perform. Until soon, ideally, you’re not performing anymore. “Just fake it,” Tett said, “and then if you do it enough, you’ll start to believe it.”
It’s all extremely good advice. It’s advice, notably, that works for men as well as women who want to be seen and heard and valued. What’s also striking about these assorted workhacks, though, is the common idea that unites so many of them: Many of these tips are premised on the value of women imitating stereotypically male behavior in the workplace. Be loud. Take up space. Project gravitas. Women would be well advised, many of these expert tips are suggesting, to mold their behavior according to a paradigm that has been established by centuries’ worth of primarily male leadership, in business and beyond—a paradigm that rewards things like, say, overt confidence, and unapologetic volume, and underlying swagger.