One of the hardest things to do when you have anxiety

Maybe it will be in school, maybe at a family function, maybe at work… At some point in your life its highly likely you are going to have to speak in front of strangers. For some of us this can be crippling and send our anxiety through the roof. For others, they dont shut up anyway, lol.

In life its often the case that we are asked to speak or called on particularly at work. Remember in high school (maybe your still there) when you were called on in class? Same theory really, as you enter the work force you’re going to be in meetings from time to time. You might be called on. Talking to a group of people is one of an anxiety suffers worse nightmare.

So many thoughts run through your head it can be nerve wracking and it can literally cause you physical harm. This post focuses mostly on impromptu speaking, like being called on randomly in class, or being asked a question in a meeting at work.

You are being asked to speak because the person asking thinks you have something of value to add. There are times when someone might ask you something to literally put you on the spot, which is cruel but more often then not people who want to hear you speak on a subject genuinely value what you have to say. That’s probably the hardest thing to realize when you are “on the spot”.

One step closer every day.

In an instant you can be overwhelmed with this situation. Below are 3 things I have always done before meetings to make sure I was moderately prepared. These will enable you to have quick talking points should you need them. These can be applicable to school situations as well. However work is different as we are being paid to be there and there is a level of expectation that is much different then a learning environment.

  1. If I know the meeting is coming I educate myself on the subject.
  2. I run down quickly in my mind, who is calling the meeting, what their role is and why I think they are calling it.
  3. I look to see who else is in the meeting and identify allies.

More on 3. In any work situation, or life really, look for allies. People who are genuinely friendly to you may share a common mindset etc. These people may not be your friends, but you need allies in life to help you through tough situations. If you are in a meeting with one of these people, you can lean on them. Literally you can mimic what they said, they probably won’t be offended. You can look at them as you speak.

Speaking publically can be challenging for a lot of us, anxiety aside its not easy to stand up in front of strangers and speak on the subject. You dont know what they know, you have no idea what you sound like to them. That can be the trigger for crippling bouts of anxiety, before, during, and after the talk.

Life can be a roller coaster at some point you’ll likely be in this situation. Some work environments are very toxic and people who know you have anxiety can be sinister and actually create situations where you have to talk to a group, knowing full well it will create a huge negative impact on you. That’s the reality of the working world, its filled with all sorts of people.

Sit up straight, take a deep breath and speak clearly. If you are nervous, make a small joke about it. If you know the subject matter, elaborate, if you dont know create an out proposition “I need to get more information before I speak into this matter” something like that. If you have anxiety issues speaking publically can be one of the serious pit falls ahead. Many people cant handle it, and thats okay too.

Be ready for it, as best you can. Practice your posture, practice looking at people, practice speaking in a clear voice, note your hand gestures, note how other people handle it. These are skills and tools you will be able to use for decades to come, they are applicable anywhere. From getting the attention of a server at a resteraunt to presenting a report to the board of directors.

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