Unable to speak in a group or meetings

30 May
chandan pathak

meeting anxiety

Thanks eWellness Expert for starting this portal to help people like me.

I work as a team leader in an MNC in Bangalore. I am very good at explaining things and confident in talking when I am in 1-1 setup, but when there are many people or I am sitting in a meeting, I feel nervous to talk. I keep waiting that someone should ask my opinion then I will speak. I feel somewhat inferior than others (not technically, but personality wise). I keep thinking that I should speak now and it makes me anxious. Is there any way out?

 

Image source: Carmichael Psychology

Responses 10

  • Jaismeen Dua
    Jaismeen Dua   Jun 08, 2017 04:18 PM

    Hey there!
    Fear of public speaking is very common, many of us feel the same way you do. Nervousness or anxiety in certain situations is normal, and public speaking is no exception. With a little practice and skill building you can overcome this fear. 

    When you are involved in public speaking on a platform with a large audience, mostly nervousness results from social apprehension and the fear of evaluation. Thoughts such as what would others be thinking about me, how am I performing, are people even listening to me etc. flood your mind and create havoc. When you get nervous, your nervous energy results in symptoms such as uncontrollable shaking and sudden heart pounding. It is important that you do not attempt to get rid of this nervousness because all the extra energy received from nerves can actually be used to enliven the speech. For example, when repeatedly tapping on the lectern while delivering speech, gestures can be used instead to support the speech. So you see, that nervousness you feel isn’t that bad, right? You can use it in a manner to support your speech and appear more confident. Further, talking about topics you believe in and are familiar with, are bound to be conveyed more confidently and you’d feel less anxious because your mind would be saying “You know all of this like the back of your hand, you’ve got this!’’ Also, start practicing speaking in front of smaller groups involving less intimidating people such as close friends and family, this will boost your confidence immensely. For starters you can even practice alone in front of the mirror and gradually move to speaking in front of smaller and finally larger groups. Patience and consistency is the key here.

     Additionally, focusing on friendly, attentive people in the audience while you are actually performing on the stage, helps a lot too. Another useful trick when you find your mind has ‘’gone blank’’ or your nervousness takes the better of you is to direct attention towards the audience. Start asking some questions about what you’ve talked about so far, engage their participation. This will not only help the audience to perceive you as an effective speaker but will also give you time to regain your train of thought. It’s important to remember here that people mainly pay attention to new information — not how it's presented. They may not notice your nervousness. If audience members do notice that you're nervous, they may root for you and want your presentation to be a success. Deep breathing exercises before you go onto the stage also prove to be extremely helpful in calming your nerves.

     

    Hope this helps!

  • Satinder kaur
    Satinder kaur   Jun 03, 2017 06:36 PM

    first of all, you must know this is your fear which is holding you back from giving your valuable opinion. I just want to ask you one question what is it that is holding you back.  are you afraid of your colleagues, are you not having enough confidence in yourself, or you think your opinion will not make any difference. see I just want to say one thing what is it you fear from . you can't let the fear of failure or disliking stop you. you know when first I went to stage I know how I mumbled trembled and was so afraid. then I just asked myself what is it, what fear is not letting me fly. the answer was no one. it all in our head.

    YOU CAN EITHER LIVE YOUR FEAR OR YOUR DREAM. it's up to you what you choose

  • Manaswini Venkateswaran
    Manaswini Venkateswaran   Jun 03, 2017 03:17 PM

    The very first step is to correct your own feelings of inferiority. When you improve on that, confidence will come naturally to you. Think about why you feel inferior, that might help you combat those feelings. From the little I know, I see no reason for you to hesitate because you seem to be quite successful professionally. You've managed to make it this far due to talent, hard work and dedication so that definitely counts for something. 

    From the little I know, I see no reason for you to hesitate because you seem to be quite successful professionally. You've managed to make it this far due to talent, hard work and dedication so that definitely counts for something. 

    Group meetings require inputs from everyone, and when you don't participate, you're potentially withholding what could actually be a good idea. Which is why I think you should just go for it and put forth an idea or an opinion if you really believe in it. If it's appreciated, great! If it isn't, it's a learning experience for you to come up with better things. It's always a win-win situation if you look at it the right way.

    Another option is preparing for the meeting beforehand so that you feel more confident. Know the agenda of the meeting, write down your ideas and rehearse them a few times in your head so that when the time comes to discuss them, you will feel a lot more confident.

    Good luck!  

  • soumya yadav
    soumya yadav   Jun 02, 2017 10:42 PM

    Hello,

    Like many listeners before me have already mentioned, the fear you have isn’t uncommon at all. In fact, its prevalence is known to be around 75%. The solution to this problem as you would expect, involves some work on your part. Here are a few suggestions that I have to give:

    • First, while you are in a group setting, you need to listen and For the first few minutes of the conversation, assume the role of an audience as others speak, this would allow for the conversation to develop and because you won’t be worrying about whether to speak, you will feel less anxious. Also, pay attention to the points being raised by other members of the group, they might help you in building your own response. If you need to, jot down whatever you think is being missed or something that you think you can speak about.
    • Second, use your body language to communicate with others. While you are listening to someone speak, nod your head when you agree with them and try to maintain eye contact when they look at you. This insures that you are a part of the conversation, even while you are not talking! When you do speak, use hand gestures as you speak this will give the impression that you are at ease and also add to what you are saying.
    • Third, know when to speak. You need not interrupt anybody else as they speak. Speak when there is a short pause and try to build your response on what the person before you has already said. This will ensure continuity and avoid awkwardness on your part. While you speak, don’t think about what others are seeing or listening. Just put forth what you wish to say. Mostly, just remember that it's okay to be nervous, a lot of people feel the same way or have felt that way before.

    These were a few things that might help you apart from the other important tips that have already been mentioned. I hope we were able to help you. Good Luck!

  • Gourab Banerjee
    Gourab Banerjee   Jun 02, 2017 12:11 PM

    Hey!
    Congratulations on your job at the Silicon Valley of India. First of all, let me ask you one thing. What do you think makes a person, a leader? It’s his/her colleagues and the ones who are ready to not only follow him/her but also move ahead alongside him/her. And as a leader, in return, he/she should be concerned about the well-being of his/her team members. A team leader is kind of like a constitution; of the people, by the people, and for the people. And you are worried about facing your team members? Gosh!
    There is absolutely nothing to worry about. There are few things that you can do to boost yourself up. Since you have already mentioned you are okay with one-on-one interactions, you are already halfway on your track. For team interactions, you can start with something from your home. Get some of your family members, and have an interactive session with them. It can be on any topic. To make things easier for yourself, you can pick up a topic that you might need to discuss at your office, and start speaking with them. This shall help you because you aren’t worried about how they might react because, at the end of the day, they are your family. You can do the same with your friends too. This will help you to open yourself up in a different way because friends are of your age, and you can speak your heart out, totally! Maybe a few swear words too! But keep it in mind, not to use too much of that in the office. You might get reported to your senior!
    Think of it this way. You are leading a team, which means you are sharing a chunk of responsibility, however small, but significant of your company. That should make you feel proud. Turn that pride into your confidence, and not your ego. Once you start gaining the confidence that you need, start opening up to your team members. Have a small talk with one or two at a time. Slowly and steadily, reach your target. Am sure you will do well. Hope to hear from you again. Good luck!

  • Jas Kiran Kaur
    Jas Kiran Kaur   May 31, 2017 05:53 PM

    Hi,

    Thank you for sharing your question. This is one of the most common issues we all face in our lives and guess what, this can be overcome very easily.

    Firstly, you need to give yourself some confidence boost. You are a team leader in a MNC which is quite huge. You are what you are because of the amazing skills and talents you have. Stop feeling low and disheartened, you are doing great and give yourself a good motivational speech in the mirror once in a while.

    Secondly, speech anxiety is not an incurable problem. All you have to do is follow these simple steps of 4 P’s: - prepare, practice, pay attention, project.

    Prepare well so that you do not feel anxious. Be ready with all the documents and be organized. Prepare yourself physically as well as mentally. Take a relaxing sleep the night before your meeting and in the morning, have a nourishing meal. Take a good look in the mirror and feel confident. Make sure to carry everything you might need for the event so you don’t panic at the last moment.

    Practice makes a man perfect, and that’s what will help you too. Practice your speech alone in front of a mirror, then in front of your family or people who will not judge you. Make it better by practicing more on your expressions, your body language. And remember, it is okay to be nervous and stutter. Just don’t give up and keep practicing.

    Pay attention to the feedback you get from your audience. That will make you understand what do lack. Be concise and be clear. Do not let your anxiety reach to them. Go at your own pace and ask people for suggestions and advice.

    And lastly, project. Project a solid and confident self-image. You are no less or inferior. You are doing great and this anxiety or fear of public is just a small hurdle in your path to awesomeness. Project good vibes and maintain good relations with your team. It is okay to be nervous, to stutter and to make some errors, we all are human. You are learning and growing and experience and practice will definitely make you better!

    All the best!

  • ayushi Singh
    ayushi Singh   May 31, 2017 09:09 AM

    Glossophobia or speech anxiety is a fear of public speaking or group disscussions. There are many causes for this fear may be traumatic incident during your childhood while stage speaking or anything else. Fear of public speaking often feels like it hits you out of nowhere. In bussiness it is essentially important for you to be able to get your point across. I would quickly tell you some ways to harness your energy in positive way.

    1) Get well organised- When you organise your thoughts and materials around you, it helps you to be calm and composed. If you have clear and organised thoughts it can reduce your speaking anxietybecause you can focus on one thing at a time in a better way.

    2) Practice and prepare- Nothing can be better than practicing for your speech that you have to deliver. Write the key words for your spoken words but don't look at each words while speaking or practicing.

    3) Cut off fear of rejection- "What if audience boo me off while speaking?" Try to eliminate all your fear because audience is there for a reason to hear you.

    4) Focus on patterns- Always keep your sentences short and to the point. Try to speak in a ryhtm.

    5) Watch yourself in mirror- Pay attention to 

    •  Your facial expressions 
    •  Your gestures
    •  Your body language
    •  How welcoming and attractive you appear.

    6) Know 100 words for the words you speak-  Know every relatable words to the word that you speak otherwise your audience would think you don't know anything about your topic.

    7) Don't over think of if audience reaction- There will always be someone in the audience yawning or bored but don't get affected by them just give your speech confidently.

    8) meditate 5 minutes a day

    Hopefully you found these tips beneficial and now you are no longer the one who has fear of public speaking. Keep working hard

  • Rhythm Makkar
    Rhythm Makkar   May 30, 2017 05:34 PM

    Hello, hope you're doing well.

    I understand that you have trouble speaking in front of people. It is something that almost everyone goes through. The only way to overcome this problem is by practicing. Nothing great comes out of being in your comfort zone. All you have to do is push the boundaries and move out of your comfort zone. I also agree that it is easier said than done. I also have stage fright and go blank every time I have to speak on stage. There are some ways by which we can overcome these problems. The first thing to do, is to be so thorough with the topic of your presentation that it gives you a sense of confidence. Once you're confident enough, it will be easier for you to speak up. Next, you should never learn the text by heart. It seems like a good idea at first, but ends up badly. Try making notes. While making notes, make sure to only use keywords and not write complete sentences. After making these notes, go through them and explain the keywords to yourself in your mind. Then practice it by speaking it out loud. Ask your friend or someone from your family to sit and hear you speak. You can write your notes on a piece of paper and keep it with you while you speak. But make sure you are not just reading it out. Another way to increase your confidence is by dressing well. A study proved that dressing well makes you feel powerful and superior than others. That will help solve your problem about feeling inferior, personality wise. You will feel good about yourself. Be in a good mood and be enthusiastic while you speak. Even if you don't feel confident, try looking confident. That way, even if you say something wrong, there are chances that it will go unnoticed or people will believe you anyway. Once you speak and the ice has been broken, it will be easier for you to continue with the conversation. So just push yourself and begin speaking. I hope my response helps you. Have a great day!

  • Tancy Moira Moore
    Tancy Moira Moore   May 30, 2017 05:02 PM

    Getting nervous, stammering or inability to speak is a problem which most people face when it comes to public speaking, be it in large groups or small groups. First of all, you need to realize that you're not the only one in the room during a discussion or a meeting who is facing this problem. Other's might seem more confident in your eyes, but initially, even they were like you. Acknowledging that is the first step towards changing your current scenario.

     

    The second step is believing in yourself that what you say or the point you have to raise in the meeting is not stupid. Get out of that constant loop of self-doubt.
    An idea can be a million dollar idea or not so good, but is always worth consideration, but how would you know that until and unless you share that idea with others?

     

    Take a chance on yourself and express freely. It's your right to do so. 
    When an individual doubts themselves, they are not able to gather enough courage to speak and that results in the inability that you are currently facing.
    A lot of times, we are scared of saying the wrong things or making a mistake or not being able to find the correct words to express ourselves. 
    We get stuck while speaking and that eventually leads to a situation where we blank out.


    There are various ways to prevent that from happening. By keeping a diary close by and writing the points that come to your head during discussions and meetings, makes one more equipped and easier to present a point or their view.
    Before talking, just stop for a second and frame the first sentence in your mind and the rest will come naturally to you. Go with the flow and don't be too cautious. Thoughts or views when presented raw rather than being presented in a fancy way using heavy English is always better.
    Remembering that there is no such thing as a right word while speaking. Most of the time there are alternatives, even specific technical terms can be described using other words.

     

    Last but not the least, go for it.
    You already have two qualities (being able to explain yourself well and confidence) under your belt.
    Add a little bit of self-belief, self-confidence mixed with a less self-doubt and hesitation should do the trick.
    Also, I would like to end by quoting one of my favorite quotes:
    "In the end, we regret the chances we don't take."

    So take a chance on yourself.

  • Swayamprava Pati
    Swayamprava Pati   May 30, 2017 02:30 PM

    Hi, 

    First of all, I would like to congratulate you on being a successful professional.

    As you have stated you are good at explaining things and confident when you're talking to one person, this is because we're​ familiar with these type of conversation in our day today life, where we need to talk in very small group of people who are known to us. But when there are many people you feel nervous, because you are in different situation which is not your comfort zone.

    There are different reasons of nervousness in public speaking. We think people are going to notice every little thing we say or do. We pressurize ourselves to be perfect. And we fear rejection. Before speaking we have many assumption in our mind. We start visualising the situation where we are not good at speaking and people are criticizing us. These type of negative thoughts prevent us from speaking confidently in our office meeting or in any large group gathering. 

    Now the good news is you can reduce your anxiety and nervousness and increase your confidence by eleminating poor habits and incorporating few helpful tips. Here are few tips to help you.

    1. Before speaking in any meeting make sure that you plan your communication appropriately. Planning will reduce your anxiety.

    2. "Practice makes perfect". You can not feel confident without​ practice. Seek opportunities to speak in front of others. Try to put yourself in situations that require public speaking. The more you practice the more confident you will feel.

    3. Think positively. Positive thinking will make a huge difference in completing your communication confidently. Magnify your positive qualities and strength.

    4. Don't expect a perfect speech or communication from yourself. None of us are perfect. Even the best speaker make mistakes. But even if you make mistakes keep going gracefully.

    5. Don't attach your self-worth to your ability to speak in public. Public speaking is only a small part of your overall professional ability.

    6. Try to eliminate all your fear of rejection and fearful imaginations.

    All the very best for your future meetings and public speaking.