When you have a fear of public speaking, business meetings can be a challenge. After all, you never know when someone might call on you to add to the conversation. If the idea of speaking in meetings leaves you on edge, a little preparation can ease the stress.
Prepare in Advance
The easiest way to get comfortable speaking in meetings is to prepare. As soon as you get the agenda, start doing your research. If the meeting is about a specific project, examine your role and get up to date on the status of the job. Identify any challenges with the project, and figure out ways to address them. Is the meeting about a proposal, new client or potential business deal? Read up on the people in attendance, and scan recent news stories to find out about any related industry developments.
If you're unfamiliar with the subject matter of the meeting, get caught up. Read up on the topic, and determine how your team might be involved. The more comfortable you are with the topic of the meeting, the easier it is to handle impromptu speaking with confidence.
Practice Talking Points
If the prospect of speaking in meetings leaves you shaky, a little practice can go a long way. To start, use your research to come up with a few talking points that you can add to the discussion. Then, practice saying them out loud — you might even ask a friend or family member to help by asking questions or engaging in a discussion. Repeat this process until you can get your point across and respond to questions naturally. During the actual meeting, you're less likely to stutter or stumble over your words.
Make a Cheat Sheet
When you're giving a presentation, it's normal to use notes to remind yourself of important points. You can use the same trick when you're speaking in meetings. Write up a few bullet points to remind you of your talking points, as well as key dates or pieces of information. Separate your notes by topic so you can find them quickly when the conversation is flowing. That way, if you feel stressed, you can always refer to your cheat sheet.
If you're already nervous, tiny roadblocks and distractions can make speaking in meetings more difficult. Common culprits? Arriving late, dealing with a dry throat, or fumbling to turn off your ringing cell phone. To ease this public speaking stress, take a few precautions before each meeting. Set a timer so you can arrive early, arrange your notes and turn off your phone. It's also a good idea to bring a bottle of water and stock your bag with tissues and lip balm. With everything in order, you can start the meeting feeling relaxed and focused.
For many professionals, speaking in meetings can be a stressful experience. When you prepare in advance, you can be ready to answer questions with confidence and poise.
Image courtesy of alexisdc at FreeDigitalPhotos.net