Do you ever feel sapped of the energy you need to get through an important meeting at work? Or wish you could postpone that networking event because you need a chance to gather your strength and wit at home?
Don’t worry, you’re not alone in feeling like this!
As an introvert in the communications field, I enjoy speaking in front of an audience and forging new relationships just as much as my more extroverted peers. But I’m often in awe of people who go from multiple meetings during the workday to an after-hours networking event with the same lively charm and gusto they had at the beginning of the day. The energy I have for such activities is limited—and I usually need a good break to recharge between engagements.
But just because I need that doesn’t mean it always happens. So over the years, I’ve come up with five tricks to make sure I’m feeling sharp and poised when it counts the most:
Like prepping for any presentation or speech, I find it incredibly helpful to practice delivering the points I want to make in important conversations—well before I have an audience. It works like this: Before I go to a big event, I think through possible topics of conversation.
I don’t always know exactly what I want to say, but I speak (to myself, out loud) as I would in a real conversation. With practice, the message develops. The convoluted, malformed sentences disappear and the words that are on point go down in my notebook and become talking points. So, “I’m here, because, um, I want to network and meet people, because I, uhh, want to change fields,” becomes “I’m looking to connect with more people in this sector.”
You’ll save your energy (and some stress!) in the moment by working off a message you’ve prepared ahead of time.
2. Schedule Smart
If you consider the kind of work you do throughout the day, you might find that it falls into two categories: work that requires some human interaction and thus a more dynamic presence, and work you can do independently that doesn’t exhaust the same energy reserves. When possible, schedule these tasks around when you’re typically feeling most and least energetic during the day.
It’s probably also helpful to set a limit for yourself. Maybe you want to commit to no more than three social engagements per week. Or, if you’re pitching a new idea to your team on Friday morning, schedule plenty of alone time for Thursday evening. Along those same lines, if you have a big event after work, aim for more low-key desk work that afternoon. Give yourself a chance to summon your strength and prepare for battle whenever possible.
3. Warm Up
Sometimes you don’t have enough advance warning to get your talking points in order. For those meetings that crop up with short notice, a quick warm-up exercise is a great strategy: Strike up a conversation with someone. It can be small talk about anything with anyone, and it doesn’t have to be intense or last for more than a couple of minutes. But it should be an exchange that gets your thoughts moving, requires presence, and helps you practice responding with precision and clarity.
So, try to take it beyond the regular interactions you have with others just to get through the day. (“Hi, how are you?” doesn’t count.) It’ll pull you out of your shell and prepare you to be engaged in the additional meeting as well.
4. Develop a “Public Persona”
I find this strategy helpful for job interviews (or any conversation or presentation when it is especially important to convey confidence and energy). If you’re like me, you’re familiar with a few different versions of yourself. One of those versions is probably more sociable and bubbly than the others—and it tends to shine in the social situations in which you feel most confident.
Call that version your public persona and figure out how to summon it. Does a healthy dose of caffeine do the trick? Is your persona inspired by music—perhaps a carefully curated playlist? Does it wear that one blazer in your closet that always feels like sleek power and confidence when you put it on?
Or, maybe you have a friend or mentor who has a self-assured way about her that you admire. Think of how that person would approach the conversation you are about to have and see if you can use that example as a model.
5. Enjoy Your Day
As much as possible, design your day to be the kind that inspires, motivates, and energizes you. (And why not do this every day, anyhow?) Maybe that means ordering an indulgent latte over your usual morning coffee, waking up earlier to have a leisurely morning, or doing yoga during lunch.
Fill your day with the rituals and small pleasures that get you excited for life and give you that mental boost that puts you in the right frame of mind to assert your ideas and actively participate in conversation. Trust me: It’ll give you energy you can draw on later in the day.
We all have those days when we’d rather sit at our desks and not interact with anyone, or go straight home after work and get into bed. (And, admittedly, some of us feel that way more than others.) But sometimes, you need to summon your inner energy and enthusiasm to impress professional contacts. While I can’t promise that it’ll be easy for you, I can promise you that all these tactics make it easier for me.
Kara J. Andersen is a public relations and communications professional dedicated to helping businesses at the intersection of financial services, technology and education tell their most authentic and compelling stories. In addition to her communications work, she shares her ideas on writing, entrepreneurship, combining work and leisure, and expert whisky cocktail-crafting at her blog. Follow her on Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, and Instagram.More from this Author