Sitting in a meeting is easy enough. Having to present something to your boss and coworkers during it is another matter entirely. It's natural to feel nervous if you have to discuss a topic or agenda in a meeting, as some of your work and knowledge is essentially put on display. If you don't do a good job, you might feel embarrassed and also miss out on an opportunity to impress your colleagues and boss. Preparation can help your calm your nerves and make the most of the meeting.
Visualize and Familiarize
Get familiar with both your meeting audience and its space, such as the office conference room. Once you've identified who will attend the meeting, you can ask a couple of them to review your meeting outline ahead of time to confirm you're covering relevant topics and alleviate fears about the content. Take a look at the meeting space and plan how to use it. If you will need electrical outlets, for example, find out where they are so you won't be fumbling around at the last minute trying to find them. Figure out where to place any materials to be used during the presentation so they will be handy when the meeting begins. Taking care of these small details ahead of time can help calm your nerves.
Preparing for a meeting takes two forms: practical and material. Go over your material well in advance so you are familiar and comfortable with it, and to ensure that you cover the right information. Practical preparation includes making sure you have the correct equipment, that everything works properly, and that you have backup equipment if necessary. Select comfortable but appropriate attire.
Practicing what you'll say before the meeting will build confidence, improve your delivery and ensure you're familiar with the material. Try your presentation out on a person you trust so you can get honest yet supportive feedback. If you videotape a practice run, you can use the footage to improve your delivery, including your speed and tone. Don't memorize the entire presentation word for word, however. You'll come off sounding too rehearsed and possibly lose the audience's attention.
Try Relaxation Techniques
Use simple relaxation techniques immediately before the meeting to calm your nerves. For example, try deep breathing for a few minutes. Breathing in slowly and deeply will relax you and bump up the oxygen flow to your brain. Massage your forehead gently and think about giving your presentation in the meeting to an enthusiastic and rapt audience. Drink plenty of water to keep yourself hydrated before the meeting, as a dry mouth will make it harder to speak clearly. Take a quick walk before the presentation to blow off some last minute jitters.
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