Glossophobia, also known as the fear of public speaking, is something that many people experience. If you’re part of the homeowners association (HOA) board — where the ability to communicate is crucial to fulfilling your duties — it can be scary and intimidating to overcome this fear. Keep in mind that public speaking is a skill so it can be developed. There are great techniques that can quell your fear of speaking up at HOA board meetings. Since communication skills are important, practicing these methods will allow you to confidently speak up at your next meeting.
The Importance of Speaking Up at HOA Board Meetings
When you have a fear of public speaking, you might be wondering how to speak up in meetings. Before fear and anxiety cause you to develop a fear of meetings in general, try to keep in mind the importance of these HOA board meetings. The main purpose is to allow the board members to properly govern the community.
HOA board members have a productive exchange of thoughts and ideas while discussing the meeting agenda. If you do not speak up, you will lose the opportunity to convey your own ideas and perspectives on pertinent matters involving the community. As a board member, always remember that your words have value. What you contribute might even pave the way for proposals or solutions that will benefit the entire community.
As you can see, there is no need to have a fear of speaking. It’s not an inherent talent but a skill that you can continuously develop. Practicing public speaking strategies can give you the confidence you need when addressing your fellow board members at the next meeting.
Strategies for Speaking Up at HOA Board Meetings
Here are some tips and techniques you can use to overcome your fear of speaking up at board meetings:
1. Acknowledging What You’re Afraid Of
It’s important to remember that you’re not alone in your fear. Public speaking is hard for other people, as well. The key is to let yourself admit that you have a fear of speaking in public, and know that patience and practice will help you overcome it.
Repressing or denying the fear will just make it more difficult to manage. If you start acknowledging what you’re afraid of, your mind and body are able to shift to your true purpose — speaking up at the board meeting.
2. Eliminate Negative Thoughts and Overthinking
There are times when it’s not even the act of speaking that scares you. Rather, it’s the negative thoughts and overthinking going on inside your head. When making your speech, self-defeating thoughts may intrude on your mind and cause you to trip up on your words.
You can eliminate these negative thoughts and overthinking by practicing relaxing techniques, such as deep breathing and mindfulness. Incorporate these activities into your daily routine. You can also use them ahead of the board meeting to gain a calmer, more confident disposition. Without the negative thoughts, you can focus your mind on trying to speak up at your board meeting.
3. Prepare, Prepare, Prepare
Lack of experience and newness of ideas are two aspects that make speaking up at HOA board meetings more difficult. That’s why adequate practice and preparation are key in overcoming your fear of public speaking.
Practice your material or speech beforehand. Read it aloud and hear yourself speaking the words. Keep on doing this until you understand your topic well.
Use your knowledge and expertise as a board member to guide your confidence in what you will say. This allows you to anticipate any questions that you might be asked. Don’t be scared to prepare notes and read them during the board meeting. The more organized you are, the less susceptible you will be to stress or anxiety.
4. Connect with Your Audience
As you prepare for an upcoming meeting, think about the environment and those who will be in the audience. Since you are a board member and have been to these meetings before (unless you are a new HOA board member and it’s your first), you have the advantage of already understanding the environment and tone.
Don’t hesitate to connect with your audience. These are people in your community, so you’ve had the chance to converse with them before.
You can incorporate past conversations to make your speech more relatable to the audience. There will also be less pressure on your part. If you are speaking to a new audience, simply smiling or greeting them can help assuage your fears. You can establish eye contact as well. Having a friendlier approach will help you connect with a new audience.
5. Focus on One Person at a Time
Instead of attempting to talk to everyone in the room at the same time, it’s helpful to focus on one person at a time. Speak directly to them, then gradually switch to just one other person, then another, until you’re able to get more comfortable with the room. Even if you’re only speaking to a few people, this can still be a helpful technique in reducing your fear of public speaking.
6. Be Patient
Fear of public speaking isn’t something you can overcome overnight. It will take some time, so don’t give up. Be patient and just continue practicing these techniques until you see improvement. You also need to accept that it’s impossible to be a perfect communicator. There might be stumbles from time to time. As long as you are open and accepting of all these, you’ll be able to develop more confidence in your ability to speak up.
Learning How to Speak Up in HOA Board Meetings
Hope is not lost for shy or introverted individuals when it comes to speaking up at HOA board meetings. With these strategies and techniques, you can increase your comfort level with the process and manage it more easily. This will help you in becoming a great communicator with your fellow board members and those in your community. If you need assistance or additional material for your speeches or meetings, you can always contact your HOA management company.