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Being afraid to speak up during meetings can have some severe effects on your career. Even if you’re technically the most knowledgeable person in the room, not being noticed by executive coworkers or clients could mean you miss out on promotions, contracts, and more. If you’re here, you’re likely already well aware of this. Maybe you even complain about so-and-so getting the promotion to your friends and family. After the frustration wears off, follow the steps below to help alleviate your social anxiety so that you can earn the promotion/salary/success that you deserve.
Practice before the stakes are high
Saying the wrong thing during a meeting with a client or higher-up could have real consequences for your career. It’s a fact. So try practicing before there’s something on the line. Toastmasters is an organization with clubs around the country so you can get comfortable with public speaking in an environment that’s safe and welcoming. If that’s not in the cards, you can also practice public speaking with friends and family. Try telling one of your best stories around a group of friends and ask them for tips on describing it better and presenting yourself in the best light.
Be proud of your voice
When you’re unsure of yourself, it usually comes out in one way or another. This can include fidgeting a lot, covering your mouth when you talk or avoiding eye contact. While this is forgivable in most social situations, in business situations, it can make people lose trust in you. These are some of the same subtleties that people exhibit when they’re not telling the truth or are unsure of what they’re saying. So, you could be unconsciously telling people not to believe you despite having the best intentions. The best way to fix this is to be proud of your voice in more situations. Try to chat with the cashier at the grocery store and speak with pride in what you’re saying. You have a unique voice and a unique perspective on life, and it’s worth sharing with people.
Prepare for the best
Preparation is key. Before a big meeting, always take a moment to yourself. Think about what you want to say. Remember to breathe. Positively talk to yourself. Don’t always think of the worst thing that can happen. Most people want to see others succeed, so you have that on your side. Wear an outfit that fits the situation but also one that you feel comfortable in. Once again, confidence is vital. So if slacks and a tie are going to make you self-conscious, don’t wear them. Go with what suits you best, be confident, and you’ll crush it.
It can take time to find your voice and feel comfortable in meetings. Don’t expect to rush into it and start commanding the room like Don Draper. By having too high of expectations, you might be setting yourself up for failure. Instead, view it as a marathon rather than a sprint, slowly making improvements over time. It won’t be long before you find your voice and are using it with pride. I believe in you.