Put ‘On the Spot’? How to Cope with Work Pressure

Put on the spot? Healthy Ways to Deal with Wrok Pressure

The leopard puns? Yes, I am going all out in this post—so brace yourself! But in all seriousness, these jokes lead us to an important topic: healthy ways to cope with work pressure. I was chatting with a friend the other day who felt “put on the spot” at work. They were suddenly thrust into a role they believed they were unprepared for. The spotlight was on… and its glare was intense. They were stressed. They feared all that anxiety would impact their performance. What could they do to relax and project a guise of confidence?

Certainly, we all deal with work pressure in some way or form. However, when it comes to last minute scenarios and developing adaptability, TV news anchors/reporters could write the book! So allow me to share a few pointers gleaned from a decade of “on the spot” on-camera moments.

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Imagine driving up to the scene of a major local event (natural disaster, crime scene, protest, etc.). You have just 10 minutes to gather information, find a spot for the camera, compose your thoughts, then present those facts live [and coherently] to a broad audience. Now imagine the same scenario, but with very little solid information. The situation you’re covering is still evolving.

By far the most challenging thing about covering breaking news is speaking in a confident, controlled manner when you have very little to go on. Do it enough and you’ll develop some excellent coping strategies! Let’s dig in to a few of mine…

How to Cope with Work Pressure

Over PREPARE, over deliver

You know that saying under promise, over deliver? I like to tweak that a bit to say over prepare, over deliver. In all endeavors, practice, research and a growth-oriented mindset will help you get—and stay—ahead. You can’t always anticipate the exact demands you will face, but expanding your knowledge base and polishing your skills on a daily basis will help give you the innate confidence you seek.

What does this look like? It could be reading trade publications or books about your industry, finding a mentor and soliciting their advice, or running a Google search on the colleagues/customers you’ll be interacting with. Getting background information about people—even if it is casual (hobbies, pets, etc.)—will help you feel more empowered when engaging with them. Take classes or head to YouTube. It’s a great place to watch tutorials to expand your skill set. In fact, this blog wouldn’t exist if it wasn’t for YouTube! I talk more about my own confidence journey in this post.

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Fake It Till You Make It

From politicians to local/business officials, I’ve interviewed a lot of people who were in positions of stress. Did you know that some of the most “confident” people you encounter, aren’t really confident at all? They’re simply good actors. And there is nothing wrong with that! Sometimes the best way to cope with work pressure is to act like you have it all together. You might want to curl up in the fetal position in your office and scream,”I can’t do this!” Instead, hold your head high and play the role.

Never give people a reason to doubt you. Eventually false confidence becomes real.

When I first transitioned out of news and into higher education communication, I didn’t really know what I was getting myself into. I thought I had all the skills I needed, but quickly discovered in addition to the writing, video, social media realm I knew so well… I also needed to be a graphic designer, web master and tech guru. “Hey Lindsay, can you design a new logo and banners for our hallway?” someone asked. At that point, I didn’t even know what a vector image was, much less how to use programs like Adobe Illustrator! But I answered with confidence, then figured it out and got it done.

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Speak With Authority

While we’re talking about projecting an aura of confidence, it is also important to consider your vocal tone. This is an overlooked area. However, in my opinion, it’s critical when dealing with pressure at work. Why? Your voice has a significant impact on the way others perceive you. When we feel stressed or put on the spot, our voice might become shaky or tenative. We might start speaking more softly than normal or use audible pauses, like um and ah.

This is the opposite of what we want! Instead, breathe deep and use your voice to convey authority. I’m not saying you need to speak like a news anchor. Just don’t let your voice reveal the stress you are feeling.

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Give Yourself Grace

Finally, the best way to cope with work pressure is to cut yourself some slack. None of us are super heroes. We can’t do it all, consequently we need to give ourselves grace. When you’re drowning, ask for help! Remember, it’s okay to delegate. And most importantly, try to see yourself through someone else’s eyes. We are usually our own worst critic. Silence that nasty, nagging internal voice. Chances are those around you think you are more than enough!

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  1. Ashley Luningham | 9th Apr 20

    What books would you recommend to an aspiring broadcast journalist?

    • laveremis | 9th Apr 20

      Hi Ashley, some of my favorites are Aim For the Heart by Al Tompkins (totally changed my perception of the power of a script to create emotion). It’s on Amazon: https://amzn.to/2y3ju1g Another one I love is “It Takes More than Good Looks to Succeed At TV News Reporting” https://amzn.to/3c7YvJM. Both are older titles, but so well written and include a lot of basic information other books will gloss over or things class text books skip. A more recent one… “The News Sorority: Diana Sawyer, Katie Couric, Christiane Amanpour – and the Ongoing, Imperfect, Complicated Triumph of Women in TV News” is also fun and inspiring. https://amzn.to/2XnflzS. Dispatches from the Edge by Anderson Cooper paints the picture of what international correspondent life and covering war zones and crisis is really like… https://amzn.to/2Xo5cDk

      I recommend reading anything and everything you can. Knowledge is power and will help set you apart when you enter the field. Can’t wait to see you on air some day!

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