Preventing speaking anxiety during a meeting

Project Description

Three people before me – two – one. Your heart is pounding and pacing. You’re in a cold sweat…

Many people dread a speaking moment, to a greater or lesser extent, during meetings or other gatherings. They suffer from speaking anxiety or stress. I recognize them straight away. Because these people have one thing in common: they start staring.

When you start staring, you turn inward. You are no longer aware of what is actually happening around you. You will see inner images that have nothing to do with reality, like merely seeing faces or eyes staring at you.


Your body will immediately respond to this with tension. The result is that you will start to focus on getting the annoying physical sensations that go hand-in-hand with tension under control. And the more you try, the less you will succeed to gain control. For example, your heart will start beating even faster and your breathing will quicken even more.

When you are occupied by your inner world, you don’t or will hardly register what is going on in the meeting room. It doesn’t get through to you anymore what the speakers before you say. Maybe you are worried: what shall I say…, what if I can’t say a word…, why is my heart racing…, I want it to stop…! Panic is a fact.


Fortunately, this can all be easily prevented. It is possible for anyone to participate in a meeting in a relaxed way. An important tip: don’t stare…

As long as you keep your eyes active, you won´t turn inwards. It is not possible to be fully present in your inner world and the external world at the same time.

The courage to look is an important first step to feeling relaxed at a meeting and to not resent the moment when you have to speak. Make yourself the visual owner of your surroundings. Look around and maximize your field of vision as much as possible. This is the first thing I practice with the participants during my coaching programs.


I will let people experience that the reality is completely different from the horror images in your head during your anxiety. The image of eyes staring at you is wrong. In reality, the eyes are parts of faces, and these faces have a body. They are humans. These humans wear clothes and shoes. They are sitting on chairs in a room. One wearily stirs in a coffee cup, the other one looks outside or takes a sip of water. And there are more things to look at in the room. Maybe you can even look outside and see clouds or trees.

The corners of the eye

To observe correctly, you always turn your head so your eyes remain in the middle and therefore you will never look from the corners of your eyes. Besides the fact that this will help you relax, it will also make you look more confident.

It is always great to see again what good observation well does to people. As soon as a person is in front of a group and I coach him or her to look the right way, all the tension of the person will disappear. The joy and amazement, that people experience when they start to feel at ease by really observing during my coaching programs, is huge every time.

After learning to have the courage to look, we will continue with step two: working on actual speaking at a meeting or assembly. I will talk about this in a next blog.