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Return to Office Series: Overcoming In-Person Presentation Jitters

The fear of public speaking, or Glossophobia, is believed to affect up to 75 per cent of the global population. Yet, even with such a common, shared fear, the majority of employers, employees and recruiters agreed strong oral communication skills are critical to success at work.

For many people who suffer with a fear of public speaking, working remotely through a laptop screen has provided a welcomed digital divide from the anxiety-inducing in-person presentation. However, as businesses slowly return to the office, employees will need to re-adjust and prepare to face their fears head-on. The good news? There are simple accommodations that can be made on both the employer and employee side to ease the transition and ensure a successful return to work.

Here are some suggestions to help employers ease the anxiety around in-person presenting:

  1. Design or designate decompression areas: A return to office is an opportunity for employers to reimagine existing spaces or redesign new ones. Designating space for employees to decompress and have a moment to themselves can go a long way in enabling them to be prepared and relaxed. Employees may use this space to meditate, practice breathing exercises, or simply rehearse their content without the judgment or interruption of others.

  2. Implement a judgment-free policy: While constructive criticism remains a vital part of any forward momentum, briefing employees how to do so properly is essential. Explain the difference between constructive and outwardly judgmental criticism through expert training and remain diligent on reparations for those who still act inappropriately.

Here are some suggestions to help employees better cope with fear and anxiety around public speaking:

  1. Control the controllable: You’ve heard this before, but that’s because it works. Distinguishing in your mind which things are in your control and which ones are simply out of it will ease the rationalizing and over-planning driver of anxiety. Control what you can by studying your content and having a plan for some likely questions that may be asked. You’ll be set up for success and clear of mind knowing you’ve done what you needed to do to prepare.

  2. Visualize Success: Instead of dwelling on all the things that could potentially go wrong, consider what could go right. Catastrophizing only strengthens anxious thoughts and will cause you stress that is not positively affecting anything. Visualizing success will allow you to grow confident in the possibility of things going right. You will also see what needs to be in place for this to realistically come true. Visualizing will set you on the right trajectory to achieve what you desire just like a follow-through on a golf swing.

A successful return to the office hinges on compromise. Employees will have to step out of their comfort zones, but employers will need to be there to set them up for success. By meeting half-way with mindfulness techniques and workplace design, both parties can find themselves in a place of excellence. Joy and confidence for employees will be met with retention and organizational success for employers.–

We will continue to share more topics around the conversation of returning to office in the coming weeks. Continue to check our blog to read more.

For more resources to help your team transition back to the office and maintain healthy minds at work, visit our dedicated Headway page or download our free resources:

  • Business Case for Healthy Minds at Work: Hard facts that show the positive financial impact of implementing mental health programs in the workplace.

  • Resource Roadmap: Links to Canadian organizations that specialize in supporting mental health in the workplace.

  • Employer Guide: An integrated and holistic way of thinking about workplace mental wellness.


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