You’ve probably heard the saying “What goes around, comes around” way too many times in your life. No matter how cliché it sounds, it’s definitely true. Everything you do in life will affect your future in some way or another. Knowing this, you should always look to do good in life, so when instant karma comes to get you, it does so in a positive way. You can optimize the effect karma has on you by following these rules of life:
1. Think positive thoughts
The more positive you are, the happier you’ll be. If you approach each and every moment of your life in a positive fashion, you’ll end up seeing the good in everything. Even when things go wrong, staying optimistic will help you push past the bad, allowing you to see the silver lining through the dark clouds. If you spend your life looking for bad things to happen, you’ll miss out on the good that’s all around you.
2. Rethink failure
Failure is universal to all humans. The most successful people in the world have spoken out about how many jobs they’ve been fired from, or how many business ventures they’ve made that have fallen flat. The difference between a successful person and a failure is the way in which they handle themselves when they fall short of a goal. While successful people use their mistakes as learning tools, people who fall short of their goals do so because they let their mistakes become dead ends. Failure is only a bump in the road, and if you treat it that way, good things will happen.
3. Continue learning
Too many people leave high school thinking “Great, I never have to read another book again!” Well, it’s true that you never have to, but do you really want to live the rest of your life not learning anything ever again? Just as you should learn from your mistakes, you should also push yourself to continue learning about anything you possibly can. The world is full of knowledge and wonders waiting to be discovered and understood, so why would you waste the time you have on Earth going through your days without ever experiencing anything new? You don’t want to wake up one day at 40 and realize you missed out on life. Try to learn something new each and every day. You might end up finding a passion for something you never knew you had.
4. Be patient
I joked before about “instant karma,” and while sometimes people get what’s coming to them right away (good or bad), it usually takes time for good deeds to be rewarded. But be patient, because good things will come to you. Of course, I don’t mean to say “good things come to those who wait,” because in actuality, good things come to those who work hard and earn them. On the other hand, you shouldn’t simply expect good things to come to you just because you think you deserve them. Sometimes, hard work doesn’t pay off; that’s life. But, again, if you treat the times that your dedication didn’t pay off as a roadblock, you’ll never achieve the success you desire.
5. Be intrinsically motivated
I just alluded to this, but if you want good karma in life, you have to be resilient. You’re not going to be rewarded every time you do something well. Don’t let that stop you from doing good deeds. Instead of looking for a reward for your actions, look at your actions as the reward. Anyone would be more than happy to go out of their way to help others if they knew they’d be given some sort of reward. Being intrinsically motivated by knowing you’ve helped others will lead to a much more fulfilling life in the long-run.
6. Challenge yourself
Like I said about being a life-long learner, good karma will come to you if you keep striving to improve yourself. Think of things you don’t consider yourself to be “good” at, and think about why that is. Most likely, the reason is that you never really gave it more than a passing try. Dedicate yourself to an interest or hobby, and it could turn into a life-long passion. You may even be able to turn what was initially a part-time hobby into a full-time career. Like I said before, if you don’t challenge yourself, you end up wasting the gift you were given when you were born.
7. Turn the other cheek
Not everyone in this world is going to be as kind and generous as you. You simply have to accept that, and not let others get you down. You can only control your own being, so if someone else does something to spite you, intentionally or not, the best thing you can do for your own well-being is to let it go. You might be offended or otherwise taken aback by someone’s actions, but you don’t walk in their shoes, and you don’t know what they’ve been through. Perhaps they’ve had an awful day and just took it out on you. While this isn’t necessarily excusable, reacting negatively will only make things worse for both parties involved.
8. Spread the love
There’s no better way than to ensure good karma than to spread love around. A little effort can go a long way. A smile and a kind word here and there can be the catalyst that starts a chain reaction that can reach farther than you could ever imagine. Buying a dozen donuts for your colleagues could be the pick-me-up everyone needs to actually enjoy another Monday at the office. In turn, you’ll have lightened the mood of your workplace so that you can enjoy Monday as well. Again, doing something kind for others should never be about what you get in return, but your efforts will certainly make you feel better in some way or another.
You’re standing behind the curtain, just about to make your way on stage to face the many faces half-shrouded in darkness in front of you. As you move towards the spotlight, your body starts to feel heavier with each step. A familiar thump echoes throughout your body – your heartbeat has gone off the charts.
Don’t worry, you’re not the only one with glossophobia(also known as speech anxiety or the fear of speaking to large crowds). Sometimes, the anxiety happens long before you even stand on stage.
Your body’s defence mechanism responds by causing a part of your brain to release adrenaline into your blood – the same chemical that gets released as if you were being chased by a lion.
Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you overcome your fear of public speaking:
1. Prepare yourself mentally and physically
According to experts, we’re built to display anxiety and to recognize it in others. If your body and mind are anxious, your audience will notice. Hence, it’s important to prepare yourself before the big show so that you arrive on stage confident, collected and ready.
“Your outside world is a reflection of your inside world. What goes on in the inside, shows on the outside.” – Bob Proctor
Exercising lightly before a presentation helps get your blood circulating and sends oxygen to the brain. Mental exercises, on the other hand, can help calm the mind and nerves. Here are some useful ways to calm your racing heart when you start to feel the butterflies in your stomach:
If you’re nervous, chances are your body will feel the same way. Your body gets tense, your muscles feel tight or you’re breaking in cold sweat. The audience will notice you are nervous.
If you observe that this is exactly what is happening to you minutes before a speech, do a couple of stretches to loosen and relax your body. It’s better to warm up before every speech as it helps to increase the functional potential of the body as a whole. Not only that, it increases muscle efficiency, improves reaction time and your movements.
Here are some exercises to loosen up your body before show time:
Neck and shoulder rolls – This helps relieve upper body muscle tension and pressure as the rolls focus on rotating the head and shoulders, loosening the muscle. Stress and anxiety can make us rigid within this area which can make you feel agitated, especially when standing.
Arm stretches – We often use this part of our muscles during a speech or presentation through our hand gestures and movements. Stretching these muscles can reduce arm fatigue, loosen you up and improve your body language range.
Waist twists – Place your hands on your hips and rotate your waist in a circular motion. This exercise focuses on loosening the abdominal and lower back regions which is essential as it can cause discomfort and pain, further amplifying any anxieties you may experience.
Ever felt parched seconds before speaking? And then coming up on stage sounding raspy and scratchy in front of the audience? This happens because the adrenaline from stage fright causes your mouth to feel dried out.
To prevent all that, it’s essential we stay adequately hydrated before a speech. A sip of water will do the trick. However, do drink in moderation so that you won’t need to go to the bathroom constantly.
Try to avoid sugary beverages and caffeine, since it’s a diuretic – meaning you’ll feel thirstier. It will also amplify your anxiety which prevents you from speaking smoothly.
Meditation is well-known as a powerful tool to calm the mind. ABC’s Dan Harris, co-anchor of Nightline and Good Morning America weekend and author of the book titled10% Happier , recommends that meditation can help individuals to feel significantly calmer, faster.
Meditation is like a workout for your mind. It gives you the strength and focus to filter out the negativity and distractions with words of encouragement, confidence and strength.
Mindfulness meditation, in particular, is a popular method to calm yourself before going up on the big stage. The practice involves sitting comfortably, focusing on your breathing and then bringing your mind’s attention to the present without drifting into concerns about the past or future – which likely includes floundering on stage.
Here’s a nice example of guided meditation before public speaking:
2. Focus on your goal
One thing people with a fear of public speaking have in common is focusing too much on themselves and the possibility of failure.
Do I look funny? What if I can’t remember what to say? Do I look stupid? Will people listen to me? Does anyone care about what I’m talking about?’
Instead of thinking this way, shift your attention to your one true purpose – contributing something of value to your audience.
Decide on the progress you’d like your audience to make after your presentation. Notice their movements and expressions to adapt your speech to ensure that they are having a good time to leave the room as better people.
If your own focus isn’t beneficial and what it should be when you’re speaking, then shift it to what does. This is also key to establishing trust during your presentation as the audience can clearly see that you have their interests at heart.
3. Convert negativity to positivity
There are two sides constantly battling inside of us – one is filled with strength and courage while the other is doubt and insecurities. Which one will you feed?
‘What if I mess up this speech? What if I’m not funny enough? What if I forget what to say?’
It’s no wonder why many of us are uncomfortable giving a presentation. All we do is bring ourselves down before we got a chance to prove ourselves. This is also known as a self-fulfilling prophecy – a belief that comes true because we are acting as if it already is. If you think you’re incompetent, then it will eventually become true.
Motivational coaches tout that positive mantras and affirmations tend to boost your confidents for the moments that matter most. Say to yourself: “I’ll ace this speech and I can do it!”
Take advantage of your adrenaline rush to encourage positive outcome rather than thinking of the negative ‘what ifs’.
Here’s a video of Psychologist Kelly McGonigal who encourages her audience to turn stress into something positive as well as provide methods on how to cope with it:
4. Understand your content
Knowing your content at your fingertips helps reduce your anxiety because there is one less thing to worry about. One way to get there is to practice numerous times before your actual speech.
However, memorizing your script word-for-word is not encouraged. You can end up freezing should you forget something. You’ll also risk sounding unnatural and less approachable.
“No amount of reading or memorizing will make you successful in life. It is the understanding and the application of wise thought that counts.” – Bob Proctor
Many people unconsciously make the mistake of reading from their slides or memorizing their script word-for-word without understanding their content – a definite way to stress themselves out.
Understanding your speech flow and content makes it easier for you to convert ideas and concepts into your own words which you can then clearly explain to others in a conversational manner. Designing your slides to include text prompts is also an easy hack to ensure you get to quickly recall your flow when your mind goes blank.
One way to understand is to memorize the over-arching concepts or ideas in your pitch. It helps you speak more naturally and let your personality shine through. It’s almost like taking your audience on a journey with a few key milestones.
5. Practice makes perfect
Like most people, many of us are not naturally attuned to public speaking. Rarely do individuals walk up to a large audience and present flawlessly without any research and preparation.
In fact, some of the top presenters make it look easy during showtime because they have spent countless hours behind-the-scenes in deep practice. Even great speakers like the late John F. Kennedy would spend months preparing his speech beforehand.
Public speaking, like any other skill, requires practice – whether it be practicing your speech countless of times in front of a mirror or making notes. As the saying goes, practice makes perfect!
6. Be authentic
There’s nothing wrong with feeling stressed before going up to speak in front of an audience.
Many people fear public speaking because they fear others will judge them for showing their true, vulnerable self. However, vulnerability can sometimes help you come across as more authentic and relatable as a speaker.
Drop the pretence of trying to act or speak like someone else and you’ll find that it’s worth the risk. You become more genuine, flexible and spontaneous, which makes it easier to handle unpredictable situations – whether it’s getting tough questions from the crowd or experiencing an unexpected technical difficulty.
To find out your authentic style of speaking is easy. Just pick a topic or issue you are passionate about and discuss this like you normally would with a close family or friend. It is like having a conversation with someone in a personal one-to-one setting. A great way to do this on stage is to select a random audience member(with a hopefully calming face) and speak to a single person at a time during your speech. You’ll find that it’s easier trying to connect to one person at a time than a whole room.
With that said, being comfortable enough to be yourself in front of others may take a little time and some experience, depending how comfortable you are with being yourself in front of others. But once you embrace it, stage fright will not be as intimidating as you initially thought.
Presenters like Barack Obama are a prime example of a genuine and passionate speaker:
7. Post speech evaluation
Last but not the least, if you’ve done public speaking and have been scarred from a bad experience, try seeing it as a lesson learned to improve yourself as a speaker.
Don’t beat yourself up after a presentation
We are the hardest on ourselves and it’s good to be. But when you finish delivering your speech or presentation, give yourself some recognition and a pat on the back.
You managed to finish whatever you had to do and did not give up. You did not let your fears and insecurities get to you. Take a little more pride in your work and believe in yourself.
Improve your next speech
As mentioned before, practice does make perfect. If you want to improve your public speaking skills, try asking someone to film you during a speech or presentation. Afterwards, watch and observe what you can do to improve yourself next time.
Here are some questions you can ask yourself after every speech:
How did I do?
Are there any areas for improvement?
Did I sound or look stressed?
Did I stumble on my words? Why?
Was I saying “um” too often?
How was the flow of the speech?
Write everything you observed down and keep practicing and improving. In time, you’ll be able to better manage your fears of public speaking and appear more confident when it counts.
If you want even more tips about public speaking or delivering a great presentation, check out these articles too: