How to deal with social anxiety in a comms career

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  • B2B comms
  • Communications
Having social anxiety in any situation is dreadful. The constant fear of watchful eyes and the judgement that comes with them, the avoidance of interaction, the embarrassment. It, for lack of a more appropriate word, sucks. It double sucks, even.
Having social anxiety when you work in a comms career? Triple sucks.

For those of you without social anxiety, imagine your worst fear. What it is? Death? Snakes? Spiders? Heights? For me, it’s the phone ringing and there being nobody else in the office to answer it. Panicking at the thought of having to speak to an actual human being. Being so scared that I forget how to form coherent sentences.  The same applies to giving a presentation or speaking in a meeting; I’m so frightened that I can feel my heartbeat in my ears.

I wish I was kidding; I’ve honestly had nightmares about Teams calls. If it can be said in an email, I will say it in an email.

However, it has been a year since I landed my dream job in PR and marketing (see my first blog Becoming an Apprentice). During that time, I’ve slowly built up some hacks for people with social anxiety in a comms career.

(Disclaimer – none of these will cure you. But they just might make it a little easier to manage.)



Writing emails can be scary. Worrying about spelling everything correctly, worrying about using the appropriate greeting or sign off, worrying they’ll get annoyed at the fact you’re emailing them, worrying they’ll read your tone wrong. (The last one results in a LOT of unnecessary smiley faces and exclamation marks).

The first thing you can do, is to make a template guide for yourself. Write down (or just remember) to use specific greetings for certain people or situations. You can even go as far as to have a practice structure in a word document or notes app, something to refer to. For example:


Chasing approval:

Hi (insert name)

How are you? 😊

Have you had chance to look at the (insert thing you need for approval for)? It would be great to hear your feedback.

Let me know!



Sending reports:

Hi (insert name)

Hope you had a good weekend!

Attached is this month’s report for you to look at. (Insert key observation from the report).

Let me know if you have any questions/comments.



See? Having a ready-to-go template can take the anxiety out of saying the wrong things. However, you can, and should, mix it up sometimes so you don’t sound like an AI. But this is a good starting point.

(I’d like to take a moment to apologise to everyone who has gotten those exact emails from me. I promise, I do actually want to know how your weekend was.)

Another thing you can do is get someone you trust in the office to check what you’ve written before hitting the send button. My incredibly patient desk mate, Jack, has had to read/edit at least 300 hundred messages that I’ve been worried about sending. It’s not stupid to ask for advice to put your anxiety at ease.


Phone calls

As previously mentioned, phone calls are the bane of my existence. Ask anyone in the office, I will avoid the phone like the plague. But, in a comms career, phones are vital.

First, practice. I know it sounds stupid. But do it. When you’re at home, get your hairbrush or TV remote and pretend it’s the office phone. Practice your introduction until it’s just a reflex to say it. Make it a habit.

Additionally, if you’re like me and forget your own name at the sound of that incessant ringing, write what you need to say on a post-it note and leave it next to the phone. Then all you do is read it. The same goes for remembering how to transfer to other colleagues or putting someone on hold, just write some brief instructions for yourself.

When it comes to making the phone calls, do the same thing! Write a mini script for yourself. Include your greeting and a small bullet-point agenda for you to follow so you don’t get caught up in the panic of talking out loud and forgetting what you need to say. Give yourself a foundation to work with.



Meetings are a big cause of social anxiety. Talking directly to other people, whether on Teams or in person. If they can see you, you feel exposed. Believe me, I get it.

Before you even reach the meeting, there are things you can do to relax. Take five minutes to look over the agenda and make any notes of things you’d like to say. Get a glass of water, stand outside. Remember that clients and other colleagues aren’t judging you. Nobody will remember that you stumbled over your words as soon as it hits 5pm. I promise.

If you need to, keep something to fiddle with during the meeting. (I find a piece of blue-tac is great to keep your hands occupied). Drink lots of water if you feel your throat close when you’re about to speak. And above all, breathe. You’re okay.



Alright, this is a big one. Presentations are scary. I know.

Like phone calls, you can take the time to practice. You know what you want to talk about, so make notes and practice saying it out loud. If you can bear to do so, record yourself saying it and play it back. Identify if you’re talking too quietly (or in my case, way too quickly) and practice your speaking skills.

Find something to focus on when you’re talking, ideally which isn’t another person. Look at a crack in the wall or a picture hanging. It is of course better to make some eye contact with the people in the room, but I know that is easier said than done. Accommodate your social anxiety, don’t fight it. You can build up to those skills when you’ve gotten used to not the whole not-panicking part of presenting.

Just as in meetings, drink water and try to remember body language to appear more confident. Stand up straight, smile, etc.


Day to Day

Social anxiety is something that can overshadow even daily, mundane tasks. But don’t worry about worrying! You are socially anxious, and that is okay. Some days you might feel much better, other days much worse, but try to practice managing it until you can reach a stable middle ground.

  • Try meditation. I know it’s not for everyone, but it worked for me. Mindful have a great explanation and how-to guide to help you get started.
  • Practice breathing techniques, like the ones outlined by Very Well Mind.
  • Take care of yourself. Exercise, eat well, sleep well.
  • Don’t drink too much caffeine or alcohol.


There has been a whole lot of isolation since the start of the pandemic, so now interacting with the world seems even more scary after spending two years in our comfort zones.

Just remember to take it one step at a time and to let yourself have bad days without them affecting your self-esteem. To quote the most intelligent person to have ever existed, ‘it’s not that deep’.

Most of all, don’t ever be embarrassed about your social anxiety. Anyone who has met me can see the effect of my struggle on my hands (I have an anxious habit that’s visible on my hands) but that’s okay. You have to come to terms with who you are.

If you are someone who suffers with social anxiety, you’ve got this.
If you’re someone who suffers with social anxiety in a comms career, you’ve double got this.



Following this advice has helped me become unmatched in PR and Communications. Click here to download your free guide about our new unmatched marketing campaign.

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