Remote work has changed how we interact in business environments. It’s made us learn how to effectively communicate over virtual and hybrid settings and has also significantly limited our in-person public speaking experience.
While our in-person soft skills didn’t disappear entirely during the pandemic, they’ve taken a hit. The mental effort required to be around people when you’re not used to it can be overwhelming. This is concerning as more of us are heading back to offices and in-person events.
Here are six tips for managing anxiety related to in-office communication:
- Pause and breathe: at Global Public Speaking, we continually emphasize the importance of focusing on your breath to ground yourself and calm your nerves before speaking in public. Use this tactic regularly to check in with yourself at the office. If you notice negative thoughts, try to replace them with positive ones. Take a mental break before an important meeting or conversation and concentrate on your breathing—this will have a positive impact on your confidence and presence.
- Employ active listening: take extra time to listen when communicating with colleagues. So often our nerves are heightened as we struggle to figure out what we’re going to say next at the expense of hearing what someone else has to say. Eye contact, nodding, and responsive body language are all part of active listening. By doing this, you’ll take the pressure off yourself while opening an easier flow of conversation with your colleagues.
- Get your body into it: we’ve become so accustomed to only expressing with verbal and facial cues during virtual meetings that we’ve forgotten we have so many more tools to work with. Own the space you’re in—stand up, move freely, and let your arms gesture naturally. The more you tap into your body language, the more signals you’ll send to your brain that you’re comfortable and relaxed, which has the added benefit of appearing authentic to your audience.
- Plan to speak up in meetings: trying to come up with something to say on the fly during meetings can be stressful. When you’re not prepared, you’re also likely to walk away without saying anything at all and regretting an opportunity to voice your opinion. Preparing a few points before gathering with others will elevate your comfort and confidence to speak up.
- Practice public speaking every day: you don’t have to be on a large stage with a mic and lectern to practice public speaking. You have opportunities to speak in public every day! Talking to others during your commute, over coffee breaks, at networking meetings and business lunches, during trainings, etc. can all be considered “public speaking.” Use our Everyday Public Speaking Workbook to access tips for regularly exercising your interpersonal communication muscles.
- Consider communication training: according to a comprehensive State of Skills Report by degreed, communication and negotiation were the third most in-demand skills in 2021, and that demand is predicted to skyrocket in coming years. Many young employees have yet to step foot in an office as the pandemic hit at the time of their first job offer. We’re seeing incredible interest in our communication programs to help with onboarding, upskilling, and retention for new recruits as well as experienced employees working to get to the next level.
Whether they’re being used for small talk, interviews, presentations, or pitches, regaining confidence in your communication skills will help you show up as your best self and supercharge your connections at work.