Meetings can be one of the worst nightmares of any business life. They tend to last longer than they should or not to get much decided in the end, so it is understandable if you feel your skin crawling just by reading the word in front of you. And yet, even if this is true, you just can’t run away from them – video conferences are a perfect way to join the conversation nowadays, so you might be requested to be there even if you are stuck in traffic.
But what if your problem is more related to a lack of confidence? Of course, it is perfectly expected to feel intimidated by several people looking at you and waiting to hear you say something significant. But if this fear is getting to the point that you are missing the opportunity to be promoted, to seal a deal, or even just to feel good about yourself, it is time for you to put some tips into practice and boost your confidence during important meetings.
Tip # 1 – Try some self-talking
The first thing that you will have to do is to talk yourself into changing your attitude. If you think you are a failure when it comes to meetings, you should know that this isn’t true and that repeating it to yourself won’t help you in any way.
You just don’t have the required skills yet, but you can improve yourself if you want to. So change your mindset in the first place and stop calling yourself a lost case. You just need to believe in yourself, plus a bit of practice, and that is all.
Tip # 2 – Analyse other people’s behavior
Try to bring back to your mind a few past meetings you have been. Did everybody seem 100% confident and comfortable there? Did you catch anyone doodling or shaking/stamping their feet? Biting pens or pencils, maybe? Scratching their heads? These are all signs of stress, and it is possible that even the chairperson did something like this at some stage.
Meetings can be daunting to anybody even when you know everybody around the table or if you are an experienced speaker. And the best way to improve your confidence in the meeting room is by making you understand that everybody is in the same boat as you are – nobody has the power to shine brighter than you if you don’t allow them to do so.
Tip #3 – Prepare yourself
Most of the problems that you might be facing during meetings are probably caused by a lack of preparation. You head to the meeting without finding out what it is going to be discussed and deciding which contribution you can offer. As a consequence, you have no idea of what to say and when someone ask for your opinion you panic and go blank.
As you can imagine, this is a recipe for disaster, so never do it again. Make sure that you study the meeting agenda carefully and make up your mind about what you are going to mention or suggest before it. No agenda available? Then call the person who scheduled the meeting and tries to extract any info you can. More you know, better you can prepare yourself and get rid of your fear of communication.
Tip #4 – Prepare your mind
If you already know that meetings get you stressed, then you need to work in some ways to manage it previously. Good news is that there are a few things that you can do to ease your mind accordingly to your preferences, lifestyle and working conditions.
Some people like to listen to some uplifting music, others to meditate, others to exercise. There are several mindfulness apps that you can use to boost your mood as well. What you choose doesn’t matter as long it helps you to keep your mind cool enough so you can focus and make a valuable contribution during the meeting.
Tip # 5 – Think before you speak
When you feel nervous is understandable if you can’t control your thoughts and end up talking without thinking it through. And this is one of the leading causes of embarrassment during meetings as you probably know. So do your best never to open your mouth without considering your words first.
One way to do it is by writing down the main topics that are been mentioned and discussed at the moment. It will keep your mind focused on this task instead of thinking about what you have to say. It will also help you to identify when is the best time to mention your ideas.
Tip # 6 – Don’t overthink it
On the other hand, don’t overthink your thoughts. You will have to speak at some stage, and that is it. While you are considering if this is the right time to speak, someone else will do, and you will be left behind over and over again. So keep looking for opportunities to speak and use them – you can always label your idea as a first approach or a draft if you aren’t sure if this is the best one.
Tip # 7 – Talk as soon as possible
One important tip for those who don’t feel confident during meetings is always trying to speak as soon as possible. The longer you wait, more anxious you get, and the chances that you will say something in the wrong way will increase. That is to say that, as soon as you notice that the topic you want to discuss is on the table, you should speak up and present your suggestions.
Another consequence of not doing it is to end up hearing your brilliant idea coming out of someone else’s mouth – you know, it is hardly like you had come up with some breakthrough, so be among the first ones to speak.
Tip # 8 – Ask questions
If you still don’t feel like you can talk much during a meeting, or if you don’t have any suggestions to make, an alternative not to feel out of the discussion is by asking questions. It will boost your confidence as you will be an active part of the conversation without the pressure of having to say something brilliant.
So if you could not come up with any ideas during your preparation, try to list some questions instead. And when possible, make sure that they will be addressed to as many people as possible or that they can be answered by anyone, so nobody feels like being interrogated.
Tip # 9 – Understand failure
Another important thing that you will have to understand if you want to boost your confidence is the meaning of failure. Nobody can win all the time, and it doesn’t mean anything bad. You need to learn from your mistakes so you can do better next time and that’s all.
Tip # 10 – Fake it until you make it
And last but not least, a final but crucial tip for you. The famous “fake it until you make it” doesn’t work for everything, but it will be a great resource in this case. More often you go to meetings, more your chances to perfect your approach to it will be increased.
Everything in life is a question of exercising. Your brain needs to understand that meetings aren’t threats after you spending years telling it otherwise. So be patient as it needs time to readjust and to stop sending all that unnecessary adrenaline to your body.
This process will be much easier if you remain persistent and never run away from a meeting again: face your fears as bravely as you can, and you will be getting much better results from your meetings soon enough.