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Quick strategies to calm down when it’s your turn to speak up

The spotlight is about to shine on you in a meeting at work and you’re freaking out. Before your mouth dries up along with your thoughts, try these quick strategies to calm down.

Picture the scene. You’re in a meeting and the CEO is going around the table asking everyone for some input. You know you’ve got great ideas, but by the time two or three or four people have taken their turns before you, they will have gone right out of your head to make room for the panic that is going to fill your every thought. Your mind is racing, but all that is in it is self-limiting beliefs and unrealistic scenarios. “They’ll think my idea is stupid. I’ll make a fool of myself. I’ll expose myself for the imposter that I am. What am I doing here? I don’t fit in. I’m not qualified enough.”

Wait a minute. Before you go into a downward spiral of anxiety and self-doubt, take time to pre-empt the panic and equip yourself with some strategies to manage it.

Your mind is racing, but all that is in it are self-limiting beliefs and unrealistic scenarios.

Cues for calm

If you know in advance you are likely to feel like this, try and plan ahead, by deciding on a physical action that will ground you and bring you back into the moment. The key here is forward planning; you need to have told yourself in advance what you are going to do, thereby training your brain to react in the way you have planned, i.e. by calming. You might be surprised at just how easily you can train yourself and regain control of those racing thoughts. It could be as simple as wearing a hair elastic on your wrist and pinging it when you start to panic. That physical sensation is your cue to calm. Or you could decide that when it is your turn you will take a sip of water before you speak, gaining a moment where you are in control.

Panic seems scary and insurmountable in the moment, but if you work with your body to physically calm yourself, you will be surprised at the progress you can make in a short time.

At The Speak Up Club we take a very practical approach to panic. A lot of it stems from deeply engrained physiological responses, and once you understand how it works, you can start to work with it.