Why do I get nervous in meetings (How to)

Why do I get nervous in meetings
Daniela Paez

Daniela Paez is a Clinical Psychologist with an MSc. In Clinical Neuropsychology from Bangor University. She has vast experience in working with children with disabilities, adolescents and their families, in extreme conditions of poverty and vulnerability. Additionally, she owns a private practice where she provides neuropsychological evaluation for children and adults, and treatment for mood disorders, anxiety, couple therapy, among other conditions.

In this guide, we will discuss the question “Why do I get nervous in meetings” and we will mention some tips on how to cope with it. 

Why do I get nervous in meetings?

“Why do I get nervous in meetings?” is a question that tends to go around your head often without a satisfying answer and it has got to the point you feel very frustrated since you have missed promotion opportunities or expressing brilliant ideas during meetings with colleagues feeling how you are not able to speak up or talking in front of a group of people.

Here we will discuss how meetings at work can be a problem for those who suffer from social anxiety without even knowing and just labelling it as being “introverted”, “timid” or “shy”. On the other hand, if you have already been diagnosed with a social anxiety disorder and you are getting treated for it, still here we have some coping strategies you could use at work. 

Why do I get nervous in meetings (How to)

However, it is important to understand that feeling anxious or nervous over perceived stressful situations is totally normal, but it becomes an actual problem when our lives are significantly impacted by it. Public speaking doesn’t necessarily have to be a problem, especially if you have decided already it is something you would like to work on. 

Imagine the following scenario, a new meeting is coming up and you are feeling extremely anxious and nervous about it. You realize there is a possibility you are asked to make a presentation about a topic or simply express your opinion to improve a process/problem. There seem to be two options, either own the situation and find a solution or avoid going entirely by making excuses such as being sick or having a family emergency, but this will only help you once or twice, can’t use it forever. 

Why do I get nervous in meetings (How to)

After all, as Wildling explains “Elevating your visibility at work is essential if you want your career to evolve and grow. You work hard and have great ideas to contribute—you should be making an impact and getting the recognition you deserve.”

Therefore, think about how you may have been feeling anxious before when meeting someone for the first time, presenting a topic or assignment in front of your class when you were at school or university. Try remembering how that made you feel and how your fear over public speaking or having a speech in front of an audience terrifies you more than you would like. 

Meditate over the following questions: it because you lack social skills? Is it because you do not organize the information effectively?, Is it a matter of not rehearsing enough? Is it about self-confidence?

Practice, practice, practice!

Practising and rehearsing before a meeting can help you own the topic and be more confident when talking about it so do it as many times as you need but remember not to obsess about it or over-worry since it can have the contrary effect. 

Our anxiety spikes when we are under a situation where we are being evaluated since negative feedback as not being good enough, smart enough, intelligent enough, brilliant enough, etc., can make our Tonge tied, sweaty palms, having a stomachache or migraine due to the adrenaline flowing through our bloodstream preparing us to fight or run away from a potential threat, even though when there is none. 

Why do I get nervous in meetings (How to)

In addition, incorporate breathing exercises while you practice and rehearse your presentation. This will help you when you are finally presenting in front of the intended audience. Also, taking controlled deep and slow breaths will help you “deactivate” your body and manage the physical symptoms, exposing yourself to this kind of situation is one of the best ways to train your body on how to react simulating a “real world” scenario. 

Organize the information and know your strengths

Knowing the key points about the topic you are about to discuss and doing proper research on the matter is fundamental, meaning it is possible you get nervous in meetings because the way you organize and present information is not the most effective. Think about the structure, what you are meant to talk about and write it down. This will be very helpful when knowing where to start.

In addition, identifying the best visual aids can be very useful when learning and remembering the information you are about to present, for instance, a PowerPoint presentation with charts, pictures, concepts or a short clip. You may be very good at it but haven’t even given yourself the opportunity to think about it or even try it. 

Avoidant behavior

When we are feeling nervous or anxious we have this sensation of feeling uncomfortable and wanting that feeling to end. On many occasions, to avoid feeling this way we tend to incur in avoiding the source of our anxiety but in a work environment we can only use it temporarily (since we can’t keep making excuses forever) so learning how to manage and cope with it will actually make out life easier instead of having to come up with excuses every time we experience emotional discomfort. 

Understanding how our anxious behavior can make us react a certain way and being concious about it is very helpful when attempting to break the cycle. For instance, if we have to deliver a meeting in a week our anxiety will make us avoid this at all cost, so we could attempt to make excuses about feeling sick or having a family emergency or enduring the meeting with huge discomfort thinking about all the possible ways we could get out of there.

Remember, no one is perfect

On many occasions, we want to excel at what we are doing and impress as many people as possible being as perfect as humanly possible. However, we have to remember that no one is perfect, and we are allowed to make mistakes, and then when we make a mistake, even if it is a little one, we tend to be too hard on ourselves and magnify it as if it was the end of the world.

Our mind starts playing tricks on us even if at first we seem very confident after researching, practicing and setting up a very good presentation of the topic. However, we start wondering “What if someone asks something and I don’t know how to answer?”, “What if I say something stupid?”, “What if I have a panic attack in the middle of the meeting?”, etc.

Why do I get nervous in meetings (How to)

Millions of thoughts and questions can go through our minds always thinking about the worst outcome but what if instead, we try to answer “What is the worst thing that can happen if…”. For instance, if you do not know the answer to a question you do not need to lie about it, be honest and say something like “It is an excellent question but right now I do not have the answer, let me get back to you once I have reviewed and researched a bit further into it”. 

Know when to ask for help…

If your anxiety is too overwhelming and it is already impacting your life significantly preventing you from developing daily life activities then it is recommended to find professional help for a complete assessment of your anxiety and advice on how you could go about treating it and improving your quality of life.

Moreover, recognizing you need help is not a reason to be ashamed of, we all need help at some point. 

Why is this blog about Why do I get nervous in meetings important?

Answering “Why do I get nervous in meetings?” can have several answers so it is not that simple.  However, we need to analyze if it tends to happen in every meeting or it is just situational (due to a certain topic we do not feel comfortable about). Also, try identifying probable causes of this fear during presentations, think back and evaluate the situation. 

Moreover, always remember to breathe deeply and slowly, prepare and do your research, challenge your thoughts, allow yourself to make mistakes and avoid being so hard on yourself.

Please feel free to comment in the comments section!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Why do I get nervous in meetings

How do I overcome my fear of meetings?

Overcoming your fear of meetings requires perseverance and practice. Here are some tips that can help you overcome your fear:

  • Set realistic goals and focus on one at a time.
  • Identify the thoughts that come to mind when thinking about speaking in public or during a meeting. Write them down and analyze them one by one, rationalizing them.
  • Practice and do role plays about any topic with a friend or a relative.
  • Practice in front of a mirror, evaluate your expressions and non-verbal language.

How do I calm my nerves before a meeting?

You can calm your nerves before a meeting by practising breathing exercises, remembering to breathe deeply and slowly. In addition, you could prepare yourself by practising and rehearsing as many times as you need to feel confident. Also, you could attend other speeches or public presentations so you can write down some key behaviours you evidence work for them. 

How can I be confident in a meeting?

You will feel confident in a meeting if you have prepared the topic you will speak about in advance and with plenty of time to rehearse as many times as you need. In addition, you could practice presenting to friends or relatives and asking for their opinion/feedback. Finally, always remember to breathe since it is the key to remain calm and make you feel confident.

Why do I get nervous when presenting?

There are various reasons why you get nervous when presenting in front of a group of people or a crowd. Think about how presenting makes you feel and try to write down any physical symptoms and thoughts that come with the anxiety building up in your body. Experiences we have had in the past such as being bullied or made fun of in front of other people due to something we have said or done can make us feel nervous when presenting. 

Why do I get nervous talking in a group?

If you get nervous talking in a group then it may be a result of being self-conscious about being ridiculed, bullied, judged or made fun of. This comes with physical symptoms such as feeling nauseous, shaking/trembling, sweating, feeling dizzy, upset stomach, headaches, etc. 

Recommended reading

References 

Wildling, M. (n.d) How To Speak Confidently in Meetings (Even If you’re Anxious). Retrieved from Melodywildling.com.

Cuncic, A. (2019, Jul.) 5 Tips for coping with anxiety in work meetings. Retrieved from verywellmind.com. 

Molinsky, A. (2017. Mar.) Afraid to Speak up in meetings? Try these 7 tips. Retrieved from Psychologytoday.com.

Why do I get nervous in meetings (How to)