This COVID-19 crisis has radically changed our lives. Just a few months ago, we had no idea our 'world' would be confined to our homes!
Never before have so many of us been working from home. However, I want to think positively in these uncertain times and see this new flexibility as an improvement in our life. Not having to travel in packed tube trains, and being able to carry out our job anyway is a great achievement, in my opinion.
However, there is a downside for many of us. Working from home does mean that you still have to connect with colleagues, clients, bosses, etc., and to do so you have to attend online meetings or conference calls that can make some of you feel anxious, because you want to look smart and sound competent and at ease. And you would be right because making a good vocal and visual impression is essential! The problem is that, if you are an insecure person, you may tend to be reserved and avoid speaking up and being heard. Unfortunately, this behaviour can be detrimental to your visibility and your ability to contribute.
So, here are some tips to help you alleviate your conference call anxiety.
A bit of preparation before a conference call is an easy way to feel less nervous. What are the topics that are going to be discussed during the call? Go over the program and, if there is something you need to dive deeper into, well, this is the right time to do it! Rehearse what you are going to say. Speak in front of a mirror, one, two, three times. You will feel much more confident when it is your turn to talk to your (online) audience. Also, anticipate questions that might be asked.
This sounds quite counter-intuitive, right? Actually, it will help you get the thought off your mind, instead of putting pressure on yourself while other people are talking and not listening properly.
Also, by waiting to speak, you may risk that someone else says something you wanted to say.
Use body language
I know what you are thinking: that is when you speak on Skype, Zoom or the phone, nobody is going to see how you are sitting or even your face. But that's not important. Sitting straight on your chair or smiling while you are talking can have an impact on how you feel during the call, and that will be perceived by the other people who are listening. (Have you ever watched Amy Cuddy's TED talk on how your body language shapes who you are? Watch it here. You can also read my article on how to grow your confidence at work here)
Online meetings require that the person who is speaking can be heard clearly by the other participants. Slowly speaking will help you sound more assertive and in control, especially when you are not using your native language. Also, do not hesitate to push back (gently) if someone interrupts or starts talking over you. It can be a challenge, I know, but it is also a way to convey the message that you deserve respect.
Okay, we have all watched videos on YouTube where the reporter presenting from home is interrupted by an army of overexcited children getting into the room. Well, this does not have to happen to you if you suffer from conference-call anxiety! Every little distraction can be an unnecessary source of stress, and you might find yourself losing your train of thought. To avoid this, choose a quiet room, put on noise-cancelling headphones, and make sure you have a super internet connection.
Visualise the process
Still anxious about your imminent conference-call? Then use the power of visualisations to alleviate the apprehension.
Picture yourself taking the call, speaking to the other participants, answering all questions and making your point of view with maximum assurance and competence. Wow! How do you feel? Now focus on the feeling of relief subsequent your contribution and begin the actual call with that in mind.
Have these tips helped you manage your conference call anxiety? Do you know other strategies to address it? Please leave a comment here or connect on social networks.
If you feel that you need to work more on how to improve your confidence, contact me to book a discovery call, where I will share with you my proven system to help you move forward.