It’s 8-ish AM. You’re sitting at your work desk, already uptight and jumpy.
You open yet another tab, clueless of why. And your arms, ugh… so jeeped up it makes you wonder if you ever even consciously governed those. Well, something’s set up camp in the back of your mind. It’s not letting you breathe or work. And, frankly, you know what it is.
It’s that 10 AM Zoom Call From Hell or what folks call - a work meeting. Palms sweating, heart racing. It’s the BIG meeting. You know, the one where you have to lead the presentation, display your public speaking skills, and field questions from your colleagues.
Whole team. Your segue. A few new faces. All there. The usual warm coffee embrace soon to be swapped with "Today um, I'm gonna um, um, stutter, um obviously..."
What is anxiety before meetings or PMS?
If the above sounds like you, then you may be experiencing Pre-Meeting Anxiety (PMS). It’s a form of anxiety that can strike both before online and offline work meetings.
While it's not an official medical diagnosis, anxiety before meetings can cause people a great deal of stress. On top of that, it kills productivity and plants a nervous seed that sprouts before any future meeting.
The good news? Rumor has it there’s a way to avoid another go ‘round with stress flashes and brain cramps. With a little preparation, you can make it through any work meeting, no matter how daunting. Here’s how!
#1 Build up your confidence
With a little preparation, you can feel more confident and ace that meeting.
The first step is simple. Familiarize yourself with the material. Make sure you understand the topic. If you're giving a presentation, review your slides thoroughly. The more prepared you are, the less likely you are to freeze up even when you feel the flock of butterflies in your stomach.
Next, practice what you're going to say with the help of pen and paper. This doesn't mean memorizing a script verbatim, but it does mean knowing the general structure of your messaging. By running through your material ahead of time, you'll be better equipped to handle questions or small bumps in your flow.
Try it out in front of the mirror! Film yourself, cringe some, ask friends for help, and fine-tune ahead of time. Take action and make changes before the big hour. If you're really struggling with public speaking, you can step forward and join a toastmaster's club. This gives you access to resources and people who’ll help you wrestle that pre-meeting monster.
#2 Have something to show
Can you guess the number one source of meeting gulps and cringy chokes? It’s not the topic or poor communication skills. Nor is it your lack of charm, wit, or good looks! Hey, you’re experienced and have worked some pretty tough crowds. Have you guessed yet?
Its eyes. To be exact, it’s all eyez on you! There's something scary about feeling alone in the spotlight, isn't there?
Time to step away from it. Not in a no-show style, but in a here's-my-presentation style. Flip the switch… All eyez on slides!
Visuals release the pressure and take the focus off of you. If that's not possible for each meeting, then figure out what to show - recent data, video, mockup, wireframes, chicken with dinosaur heads, whatever really. All eyez on cursor! 😂
Repeat 10 times!
No lightheadedness allowed…including yours!
This breathing relaxation technique resembles something scientists call a psychological sigh. It helps humans to calm down in tense situations - like before you speak in a meeting. It's proven to release anxiety before the meetings and other annoying pre-meeting symptoms.
Actually, in this piece, we talk more about the science behind this relaxation technique and breathing in general. Check it out!
#4 Careful with pep talk
I am strong. I am courageous. I can do it. I will do well no matter what happens.
While you certainly are this and more, your brain is too messy to be persuaded before the thunderstorm. Self-talk can ignite overthinking and that can make you feel anxious to your core. So if you busted a gut and it didn't bear fruit, maybe it's time you let go of positive self talk.
What’s the worst that can happen in this call?
Really, thinking of taking that route? If doctors asked themselves this question, do you think they’d ever use scalpels and lasers to perform surgery? Not likely…
Don’t overthink it. It probably won't help you feel better. Hey, try shouting wwwhhooaaarrrrgggghhhh instead. 😆
#5 Get movin’
It's time you move some. In fact, here's an idea. Whenever your self-talk has you pee-jigglin’, wiggle on over to physical activity breaks instead!
The movement and some physical tension are sure to free you of meeting anxiety. Tense up to cool down. Let it all out for good. That’s the formula right there.
Here, a power-packed list to help you set lose of meeting anxiety:
Let us know how it went!
Pre-Meeting Anxiety (PMS) can be a real bummer. Worry not! These five tips are are your tried-and-true ways to conquer the beast! Give them a go and let us know how your meetings are going. We'd be happy to hear back from you or, even better, read how you managed to bamboozle your anxiety before meetings!
Oh, and if you’re hot on work-from-home affairs, keep feeding the hunger. 👇