Presenting Your Ideas at Work Without Coming Off Like a Tool

chalkboard with good idea and a lightboard drawn on with a businessman's hand pointing out the light bulb

Presenting your ideas at work can feel intimidating.

(Unless you’re one of those people who absolutely loves to hear the sound of their own voice. If that’s the case, feel free to stop reading now. Or do read on to help cure your toolish-ness.)

But you can contribute and share your ideas in a way that is helpful and collaborative. Here’s how:

Listen more than you talk.

When you see something that you think needs to change, start by taking more time to observe. Pay attention to what your coworkers and superiors have to say. Really consider your opinion and weigh it against the opinions of others. That way, when you do share your thoughts, it will come from a place of wisdom and careful consideration.

You can disagree with your boss, but you can’t be a jerk about it.

It is okay to disagree with your boss and tell them what you think, but you have to be respectful about it. I don’t care how big of a tool your boss is, you should still treat them with a modicum of respect. If you need to talk to them about something important, schedule time to do it. Don’t just pop in and drop it on them unexpectedly. Schedule a meeting at a time when both of you are relatively well rested and well fed, and have an open, honest conversation. Even if your boss isn’t receptive to your opinion, you will have shown off how awesome you are at adulting.

When it comes to presenting your ideas at work, go straight to the source

If you have ideas, opinions, or things you disagree with at work, resist the urge to barf up your thoughts to anyone who will listen at the water cooler. Don’t gossip. Don’t talk about people without going straight to the person in question. If you have feedback, go directly to the superior who has the power. Do not pass go. Do not whine to your coworkers. Put on your big girl pants and handle your business. You’ll be respected for it.