It can be tough to handle stress during meetings, in moments, and where you’re in front of several other meeting attendees. Everyone experiences stress at work, and meetings are perhaps some of the most stressful times in corporate culture. Here are some tips on how to stay calm in stressful meetings, so you can handle both remote and in-person meetings.
For this article, we featured tips from Bill Cole, a performance psychology consultant.
3 Stress Management Strategies to Use Before Meetings
Preparing for a stressful meeting can help reduce stress while staying in the moment during the meeting. Here some tips on how to prepare for a stressful meeting.
Tip #1: Check-In With Yourself
Bill: Create a quiet “buffer space” of at least five minutes before the video session to “make contact with the present moment”. You do this by sitting still, becoming aware of your breath, and by doing a check-in with yourself. Notice if you are in a hurry, preoccupied, feeling unsettled, or if your mind is wandering or even stuck on something, and then take ever deeper and slower breaths until you feel you are in “The Now”.
Tip #2: Deepen Your Focus:
Bill: Notice and label any emotions you are experiencing in a non-judgmental way, with self-compassion. Don’t fight any so-called “negative” or “unwanted” emotions-just accept them. Then slow down your breathing, by counting to five in your mind as you breathe in through your nose, to ten as you hold your breath, and to seven as you relax your jaw and allow the air to trickle out of your mouth, little by little. Repeat this for one or two minutes and you will feel far calmer, focused, peaceful, and grounded, ready for your meeting.
Tip #3: Use Intentionality
Bill: Before the video meetings, let your mind wander and dream about how you’d like the video session to go. Be intentional of how you’d like to come across to participants by writing a list of adjectives of your observable behavior and inner state, such as focused, calm, energized, friendly, patient, professional, nonjudgmental, etc. This programs your mind with a success blueprint, making you far more likely to actually feel and behave in these ways, instead of relying on “hope as a strategy”.
Other Stress Management Tips Before Meetings:
- Drink Tea: consider swapping that daily cup of coffee for tea. Drinking tea has calming effects, helping to soothe the body and relax your mind.
- Eat well: when you’re stressed, it’s very easy to snack on unhealthy foods like chips, cookies, and other snack foods. Avoid the free snacks at the office, and be sure to eat right.
- Be prepared: whether it’s a list of updates or a scripted update, being prepared and organized for your meeting can help ease your stress.
- Talk about it: have a person to talk to can help ease stress. Find an ally in your office who can lend a friendly ear to talk out your problems.
- Go for a walk: taking a walk outside can relieve stress and clear your head before a stress meeting.
Two Stress Management Strategies to Use During Meetings
Here are some tips to keep in mind on how to stay calm in stressful meetings:
Tip #1: Focus Only On What Is In Your Control
Bill: There are three buckets of control: things you can control 100%, things out of your control 100%, and things partially in your control. Focus on controlling your stress by slowing down your breathing, relaxing your muscles, and quieting your mind. Manage whatever technical and other challenges you can, and let all things out of your control go, and you’ll stop worrying and be more engaged with the meeting.
Tip #2: Use The “One Breath” Technique:
Bill: Take a long, slow breath in through your nose and hold it for a mental count of 20, or as close as you can get to that number. This covert technique will increase your thoracic tension in a good way so that when you gradually release the air through your mouth, you will achieve a sense of relief and release and calmness, and be able to more easily discern the difference between inner stress and tension and how it feels so good when you let it all go. Repeat the One Breath Technique two or three times in a row, pausing between each episode for 10-20 seconds to sense the deepening levels of relaxation you’re created within yourself.
Other Stress Management Tips During Meetings:
- Excuse yourself: if you need a moment, excuse yourself from the meeting to take a breath and calm down
- Focus on posture: having an upright posture can maintain self-esteem and reduce negative mood during your meeting.
- Block out negative influences: this may be though to do during a meeting, but try to block out those who speak negatively throughout the course of the meeting.
- Keep a calm demeanor: No matter how stressed you are, keeping a calm demeanor will help others in the meeting to not be stressed.
Managing stress in meetings can be helpful. You can use these tips on how to stay calm during stressful meetings, you’re able to focus more on the purpose of the meeting.
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