Dear Meeting Guru,

"Whenever I attend meetings I get so nervous that I can’t speak or concentrate. I spend the entire meeting thinking about how nervous I am, instead of thinking about what’s happening in the meeting. In the end I’ve missed the point of the entire meeting. What can I do?"

Anonymous

Blessed Meeter,

Even the Meeting Guru sometimes gets nervous in meetings, but there are tactics you can employ to rid yourself of the meeting jitters.

Be Prepared
If you’re familiar with the information that will be covered, you won’t be so afraid of someone asking you a question or asking for your opinion. This may take some work on your part. Some meeting organizers may expect that you already have all the information you need. Be proactive – ask if there are documents you should read and look at the minutes from previous meetings related to this topic.

Stay Focused
Focus on what’s being discussed. If you concentrate on what other people are saying, you’ll forget how nervous you are. You also won’t be caught off guard when someone asks you a question. It’s very easy to let your mind wander, especially when you’re nervous. To stay focused, look directly at the person who is speaking, listen closely and analyze what they are saying.

If you push yourself and actively try to get over your fear, attending meetings will become easier. As U.S. WWI aviator and airline businessman Eddie Rickenbacker once said, “Courage is doing what you're afraid to do. There can be no courage unless you're scared.”

In other words there is no shame in being afraid, only in not trying to conquer your fears.

For more tips on how to be assertive in the meeting room you can also read Don’t Be a Meeting Room Wallflower.



Until next time… may good meeting karma always be with you.

 


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