Confidently contribute at your next work meeting with these 3 tips

With the introduction of various Covid-19 vaccines, we are beginning to catch a glimpse of the light at the end of the pandemic tunnel. This may mean that some of us will be headed back to our arenas of employment to work alongside our colleagues “IRL.” The adjustment from working at home to re-entering the office may be overwhelming, especially when we’ve grown accustomed to only meeting on Zoom or other video communication platforms.

If thinking about contributing your thoughts to a meeting in real life (or even on a video conference) is intimidating, here are three tips to help you overcome your reluctance to speak up.

Listen. This one may seem obvious, but sometimes we get so caught up with getting our ideas out there that we forget to tune in to what the rest of the group is saying. Take note of who is making an impact when they contribute their voice to the conversation. Consider how these individuals share their thoughts, and how they differ from those whose comments go unnoticed. Remember that if what you present connects with the needs of the group, it will likely be better received.

Prepare. Speaking in front of a group can be stressful, especially if you’re addressing respected colleagues on top of being out of practice. Studies show that the capacity of your mind to retain information goes down as your anxiety about performing or speaking in public goes up. To avoid fumbling your words or losing your train of thought while speaking up during a meeting, try preparing a few points in advance. This will help you keep your comments clear and concise.

Don’t overthink it. Most of us can relate to the anxiety that builds up the moments before saying something in a meeting. Remind yourself that the longer you wait, the more the anxiety will build, and the less likely you are to say anything at all. Instead, don’t overthink it. When an appropriate time for you to contribute comes around, immediately indicate that you have something to say by raising your hand.

The most important thing to remember is that your fear of speaking in public is most likely much worse than the act of speaking up itself. So, take a deep breath and go for it!

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