Are You Anxious When Speaking Publicly Or In Meetings?
I speak publicly with confidence although I was fifteen before I could order my own food at a restaurant. I was too timid to even speak to a Server. I used to stay awake at night analyzing everything I said. I'm a closet introvert living amongst successful extroverts. I want to empower others to do the same. Here's a little bit about me and how I successfully overcame it:
When I had my first job at a large, nationally known corporation, I was pulled into a meeting with approximately thirty executives because my Manager saw my potential. The BOD, VP's, and everyone of importance to the issue was there. We were switching systems and a new vendor was going to manage what we'd done internally for eighty-five years. When they asked HOW to pull everything off, no one in the room could answer.
I am an introvert and I raised my hand like a school girl. Long story short, I ended up taking over the meeting and explaining to them what no one else in a position of power could. They ended up promoting me four times and gave me the account to manage as a result of the relationships I established in the room that day. I was on a BOD under the same parent company eight years later at the age of twenty-eight. It taught me a lot of important things.
1) Be prepared. You need to know the subject matter. The more I know, the less anxious I am.
2) Answer their questions before they ask. You don't need to over explain; however, if something has changed, tell them and be prepared to say why and always have a potential solution if it's an issue. There's nothing that irritates management more than going to them with a problem and no potential solution.
3) Never sit to the side of the head of the table. That spot is reserved for people of lesser power and sends a negative subliminal message.
4) If you work in a male dominated field like I always do and someone asks you to do something that is not your job (e.g. get coffee, call them a cab, etc.) say, "I would be more than happy to ask ______ to do that for you." Then, you're polite while establishing boundaries. They need to respect you. We tend to be too submissive as women and accept gender roles.
5) Remember the point of my story. Sometimes the newest, most shy voice in the room is the most relevant and valuable. Don't be afraid to voice your opinion. You should also listen to that voice. While there's a lot to be said about experience, fresh perspectives are under valued.
6) If you don't have confidence in yourself, no one else is likely to either. If you need to, fake it until you make it!
7) Stay away from statements that diminish what you're saying like, "I just think" and "In my opinion". Tell them what you think is best for the company and why. Don't defeat yourself by diminishing your own opinion first.
8) Take notes, but don't read from them. Practice in front of a mirror the day before. Then, everything is fresh on your mind.
9) Dress professionally because it makes you feel more professional.
10) Take every opportunity you're presented with to broaden your horizons and speak. Read books. Join Toastmasters. Talk to a local Business association or class of school children. People are always looking for Speakers. Practice makes progress!
11) Always have an "Elevator Speach" prepared because selling your brand is as important as selling yourself and your ideas.
Most importantly, REMEMBER, you are a valuable member of the team! If you weren't, you wouldn't be invited to the meeting.