Social Anxiety Disorder Coping 7 Tips for Coping With Anxiety in Work Meetings By Arlin Cuncic, MA Arlin Cuncic, MA Arlin Cuncic, MA, is the author of "Therapy in Focus: What to Expect from CBT for Social Anxiety Disorder" and "7 Weeks to Reduce Anxiety." She has a Master's degree in psychology. Learn about our editorial process Updated on March 23, 2022 Medically reviewed Verywell Mind articles are reviewed by board-certified physicians and mental healthcare professionals. Medical Reviewers confirm the content is thorough and accurate, reflecting the latest evidence-based research. Content is reviewed before publication and upon substantial updates. Learn more. by Amy Morin, LCSW Medically reviewed by Amy Morin, LCSW Facebook LinkedIn Twitter Amy Morin, LCSW, is a psychotherapist and international bestselling author. Her books, including "13 Things Mentally Strong People Don't Do," have been translated into more than 40 languages. Her TEDx talk, "The Secret of Becoming Mentally Strong," is one of the most viewed talks of all time. Learn about our Medical Review Board Print Take control of your anxiety in meetings to improve your work life. Getty / Lumina Images Table of Contents View All Table of Contents Practice Reframe Meeting Stress Arrive Early Manage Avoidance Behaviors Know Your Strengths Prepare Use Visuals Anxiety in meetings at work can be a problem for those with social anxiety disorder (SAD). Perhaps you have missed out on promotion opportunities because you didn't speak up in meetings like your colleagues. Or maybe you have avoided promotions completely because they would mean that you would have to attend more meetings. The good news is that there are coping strategies that you can use to help alleviate social anxiety in meetings at work, both in person and virtual. These are most useful if your anxiety is not severe or you are already in treatment for SAD. Practice If you are required to present during meetings, or simply wish to improve your skills at speaking to a group, there is no substitute for regular practice. Consider joining a group like Toastmasters. The organization will help you improve your ability to make introductions, to think on your feet, and to talk informally to a group. During the first few sessions, you are free to observe and decide whether you want to participate. If Toastmasters isn't an option for you, you can still brush up on your communication skills on your own. Make a point of telling a story in front of friends or asking a question of every guest at the next gathering you attend. View every social encounter as a chance to practice and become better at communicating. How to Manage Public Speaking Anxiety Reframe Meeting Stress Cognitive reframing (also called cognitive restructuring) is a technique you can use to change your perspective on a situation or experience. In this case, it might mean working to look at pre-meeting nerves as common and manageable. Try to see them as a positive: You care about your work and your colleagues and you can channel this caring and energy into your performance. You can also use reframing after a meeting if you are struggling with regrets or worries. One study showed that it is effective at helping people with social anxiety manage post-event processing. If you are working with a therapist to treat SAD, discuss this technique with them. You can also try other stress-management techniques prior to a meeting, such as breathing exercises, a few yoga stretches, or a five- to 10-minute walk. If anxiety flares up during a meeting, be ready with a few stress-relief tactics that you can use on the spot. These might include deep breathing or progressive relaxation. Arrive Early Being early for a meeting allows you to start out with a smaller group of people, which makes it easier to greet them informally. When you arrive early, you won't worry about being late. You can also use this time to check out or set up any equipment you might be using for the meeting, such as a projector. Manage Avoidance Behaviors Perhaps you get through business meetings by being so thoroughly prepared that you have a scripted answer to every question. Although preparation is important (see below), being over-prepared is a subtle type of avoidance. It is just as important to trust yourself to be able to respond spontaneously to questions and discuss issues that aren't pre-planned. Realize that in these situations, it is OK to say that you are unsure about something and that you will look into it. Other avoidance behaviors might include not looking anyone in the eye, covering your mouth when you talk, or simply avoiding speaking at all in a meeting. If you find yourself engaging in avoidance behaviors, give yourself permission to feel some anxiety in meetings. Realize it's not the end of the world if others notice you are nervous, and eventually you will feel more comfortable. Bring a pen and paper to meetings and take notes by hand. This keeps your hands busy and your mind focused, and also helps you look and feel productive. Know Your Strengths If you suffer from social anxiety in meetings, you will probably never be the most eloquent speaker in the group. However, that doesn't mean that you can't gradually improve your speaking skills so that you come across as professional and poised. In addition to being a good speaker, being a good listener is a valuable skill in meetings. If this sounds like you, use your listening skills to your advantage. If you listen carefully to what others say and choose your words carefully, they will admire your wisdom and patience. How to Be an Active Listener Prepare A reasonable amount of preparation will leave you feeling confident. Over-preparing or under-preparing may leave you feeling even more anxious—particularly because these are often a reflection of your anxiety. To help you feel ready for a meeting, anticipate and research issues beforehand so that you are up to speed. Wear clothing that is comfortable and professional, and that makes you feel good. Talk on the phone with a friend or family member who makes you feel relaxed before a meeting, and then carry that feeling with you into the meeting. If you are participating in a virtual meeting, download any software you will need to access the meeting in advance. Find and set up a space to join from—a room that is quiet and well-lit, with a neutral background, is best. How to Cope With Zoom Fatigue Use Visuals Visuals are great tools for getting a message across and for drawing attention away from yourself. If you are speaking to the group, use some sort of visual medium as part of your presentation. This will enhance the message you are trying to communicate—and it will take the pressure off of you being alone in the spotlight. This is a great strategy for virtual meetings as well. If you will be presenting, put together a few slides and share your screen when you're talking. Then you can reduce the time you're on camera. You can also hide or minimize the window that shows your view of yourself, which can be distracting to look at. A Word From Verywell If you suffer from severe social anxiety, there is no substitute for treatment such as medication or cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). In combination with the tips above, you should be well on your way to successfully managing social anxiety in meetings at work. 4 Sources Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy. American Psychiatric Association. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th edition. American Psychiatric Association. Shikatani B, Antony MM, Kuo JR, Cassin SE. The impact of cognitive restructuring and mindfulness strategies on postevent processing and affect in social anxiety disorder. J Anxiety Disord. 2014;28(6):570-579. doi:10.1016/j.janxdis.2014.05.012 Rudaz M, Ledermann T, Margraf J, Becker ES, Craske MG. The moderating role of avoidance behavior on anxiety over time: Is there a difference between social anxiety disorder and specific phobia?. PLoS One. 2017;12(7):e0180298. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0180298 Canton J, Scott KM, Glue P. Optimal treatment of social phobia: Systematic review and meta-analysis. Neuropsychiatr Dis Treat. 2012;8:203-215. doi:10.2147/NDT.S23317 Additional Reading Carducci BJ. Shyness: A Bold New Approach. Harper Collins. Henkel SL, Lujanac M. Successful Meetings: How to Plan, Prepare, and Execute Top-Notch Business Meetings. Atlantic Publishing. Stein MB, Walker JR. Triumph Over Shyness: Conquering Shyness and Social Anxiety. McGraw-Hill. By Arlin Cuncic, MA Arlin Cuncic, MA, is the author of "Therapy in Focus: What to Expect from CBT for Social Anxiety Disorder" and "7 Weeks to Reduce Anxiety." She has a Master's degree in psychology. See Our Editorial Process Meet Our Review Board Share Feedback Was this page helpful? Thanks for your feedback! What is your feedback? Other Helpful Report an Error Submit Speak to a Therapist for Social Anxiety Disorder Advertiser Disclosure × The offers that appear in this table are from partnerships from which Verywell Mind receives compensation.