Many of us experience anxiety during work meetings. Whether it’s presenting new ideas to your teammates or discussing project updates with your client, anxiety can cause mental blocks and keep us from speaking up. One of my colleagues shared a video that inspired me to try something new when I start feeling the familiar mental block and meeting-sweat. I try to be intentional about preparing well beforehand, practicing midfulness throughout the meeting and being kind to myself afterwards.
One of the most effective ways to deal with anxiety during work meetings is by ensuring you’re well-prepared. This can help you feel more confident and in control of the situation. Before the meeting, make sure you clearly understand the purpose, the topics that will be discussed, and your role in the meeting. Ask yourself any questions that may arise and prepare responses accordingly.
Look over any notes you’ve prepared, familiarize yourself with the relevant details, and research any specific topics that may come up. By doing this in advance, you will feel less anxious during the meeting, as you’ll be better equipped to participate in discussions and answer any questions that arise.
If you’re presenting or giving a demo, it’s also a good idea to rehearse your presentation beforehand so you’re comfortable with the flow and pacing. And make sure you have all of the permissions set to share your screen to avoid that moment you say, “Ope, I need to leave the meeting. I will be right back.” We have all been there.
During: Practice mindfulness.
No matter how much you prepare, things never go according to plan. Person X might question a decision you made. Person Y might ask you something completely out of your wheelhouse. Sometimes a simple comment or question can start a spiral of doubt, worry, or a desire to check out for the rest of the meeting. When this happens, you may miss important information or be unable to contribute fully to the discussion. Anxiety is super distracting! By practicing mindfulness techniques throughout the meeting, you can shed unhelpful narratives and stay present and fully engaged in the conversation.
One helpful strategy is to focus on your breath. Take deep breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth, counting to five with each inhale and exhale. Concentrating on your breath can help slow down your thoughts and relax your mind and body.
You can also practice grounding techniques to help settle you in the present. For example, focus on the sensation of your feet on the ground or the touch of your fingers on the table. Become aware of the space in front of you and behind you. Take a few moments to notice your surroundings and connect to your senses, allowing you to be more present in the moment.
After: Being kind to yourself.
After the meeting, it’s important to be kind to yourself, regardless of how you feel the meeting went. Notice when you start telling yourself negative stories about it and try to let them go. Instead of dwelling on mistakes you may have made or rewording your responses, remember what strategies worked well for you and identify areas where you can improve. Use this as an opportunity to learn and grow.
If you find it beneficial, take a few minutes to journal your thoughts after the meeting. Write down any insights or lessons learned, as well as any positive feedback you received. This can help you build confidence and keep a record of kind words.
If you’re struggling with anxiety during meetings, it may also help to talk with a trusted colleague or a mental health professional. They can provide support and help you develop strategies specific to your situation.
Anxiety During Work Meetings: Strategies for Coping
Dealing with anxiety during work meetings can be challenging, but hopefully this helps gives you some tools so you can stay calm, confident, and productive. Remember to prepare thoroughly, practice mindfulness techniques during the meeting, and be kind to yourself afterward. What are some ways that you beat meeting stress?