When many people think about a fear of public speaking they automatically picture a big speech to a crowded hall but actually many people find speaking in a small meeting or gathering just as anxiety inducing. I help clients combat this fear and build confidence so they can perform and communicate more effectively in meetings at work.
There are a few steps you can take straight away to start building your confidence when speaking in meetings.
- Know your subject
Even the best speakers will struggle if they’re unprepared or uninformed about the subject. If you can, prepare thoroughly for meetings in advance. Carefully consider your thoughts and what you need to say. Don’t over rehearse, but be prepared.
- Know how to communicate with authority
Another aspect of workplace meetings which can sometimes make communication difficult is the power and status of the other people. If you’re meeting with people who you perceive as important or powerful, you can become overly nervous which negatively affects communication. Remember that these people are only human and as long as you’re respectful you should communicate with them in the same way as other colleagues – clear, well considered and concise.
- Train your body
As soon as we start to feel nervous our body reacts with a fight or flight response. You might blush, feel tense, breathe sharply (all of which won’t help your communication). Train yourself with breathing exercises which calm the body, speak clearly from your diaphragm, carefully modulate your tone, sit or stand comfortably and avoid tension in your throat. A glass of water can often help.
- Practise communication
Until you manage to control your fear and start to feel more confident, you can give the veneer of confidence with carefully practised speaking techniques. Speak slowly and carefully with suitable pauses between points, articulate and pronounce properly and eliminate joining words such as “um” and “like”.
- Consider your audience
It’s always helpful to know who you will be speaking to so do some research before if you’re unsure. What do they respond to? Humour? Professionalism? Metaphors? Can you relate your points to shared previous experiences which will aid communication?
- Open and close well
Make sure you know what you’re trying to achieve and start and end with a clear statement of this. Are you attempting to persuade them of something or incite action? For example, “I am going to tell you why we should open a new branch”, “and that is why I believe we should open a new branch”.
- Know your value
Low self-esteem can make us feel like we aren’t worthy of being listened to or are unable to offer anything of value in meetings. In a business environment it’s important to remember that everyone has a purpose and there’s a reason you have been invited to the meeting. Listen carefully to what’s being said (rather than worrying about when you’ll next have to speak). If you feel like you have something of value to say, don’t fight the urge! Speak up and be heard.
Hypnotherapy is a safe, non-intrusive and simple way to help people with any kind of anxiety, stress or phobia issue. In just a few sessions you could start to address the underlying issues behind your fear of speaking in meetings, become a more confident communicator and progress your career.
If you’d like to learn more about how I help clients with this please do get in touch