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Why An Independent Woman Is the Role Model For Everyone

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Why An Independent Woman Is the Role Model For Everyone

Have you ever read any comments in posts about independent women? If so, you will see a lot of poisonous comments from men who imitate the media in portraying these women as anti-men, resentful, and out to get revenge! There are comments from women’s advocates who say that many women receive rape and death threats on a daily basis. In the past, Hollywood has portrayed women in their films as stereotypes who need men to rescue them from many difficult situations. In spite of all the hype, myths, and futile sexist attitudes that are abound, an independent woman is a role model for everyone. Here are 10 reasons why this is true.

“My greatest ambition is to have a career without becoming a career woman.” – Audrey Hepburn

1. Because she sees the value in education

Many women go over and beyond the lure of looking good and seek out real development as a fully rounded individual. They are curious and want to learn. An excellent example is Emma Watson, who had it all made as an actress and a model. However, she did not stop there. She completed a degree course at Brown University, taking a year off her acting career to do so. This is an inspiring example of a superb work ethic.

“I want to find something that will let me use my brain in another way. I like connecting people who aren’t part of that world, too.” – Emma Watson

2. Because she is determined

Many women face the glass ceiling in their careers and are not put off by this at all. They show persistence and true grit in getting what they want. One example is Hope Powell, who became the first woman to be granted the UEFA Pro License, which is the highest coaching award available in a field which is normally reserved for men. She is one of the 8 women coaches (out of 24) in women’s football and has played a leading role in getting the game recognized and followed by both men and women. She was instrumental in getting the Football Association to take women’s football seriously and has helped to reduce the stigma attached to women footballers.

“Work hard to get what you want. If it’s your ambition, go for it. You don’t have to be the best in the world to make it as an elite athlete. You need to be a grafter and be prepared to sacrifice.” – Hope Powell

3. Because she can communicate clearly

A superb example of somebody who can communicate complex subjects in a simple and easy to understand manner is Stephanie Flanders. She spent two years at Harvard and has worked for the United Nations, the New York Times, and was the Economics Editor at the BBC for a number of years.

Explaining global finance in everyday terms and how it impacts our daily lives was not easy, but Stephanie communicated her deep understanding of finance in a most effective way. Her TV program, Masters of Moneywas an inspirational example. “Stephanomics” has even been coined to express her unique way of communicating complex subjects to the masses. She now works for JP Morgan.

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“Do not be alarmed by simplification; complexity is often a device for claiming sophistication, or for evading simple truths.” – John Kenneth Galbraith, American economist.

4. Because she cares about humanity

It takes courage to act when the migrant humanitarian crisis which is now sweeping the world leaves nations perplexed and passive. We need inspiring humans to show they care and take action. Whether it is taking part in a volunteer group or financing a project for talented girls in disadvantaged areas of the world, the message is the same. Oprah Winfrey has set an excellent example by establishing the Oprah Winfrey Foundation, which helps talented girls in need of a free education. This is just one of the many charities she actively supports

“What material success does is provide you with the ability to concentrate on other things that really matter. And that is being able to make a difference, not only in your own life, but in other people’s lives.” – Oprah Winfrey

5. Because she refuses to be judged by her appearance

Independent women will never fall into the trap of thinking that presenting themselves in a sexualized way is appropriate. She knows that she will be judged on her performance, her abilities, her communication skills, and ways she connects with others. These are the important things she is aiming to achieve. The independent woman will never put her appearance as the number one priority. She will not be brainwashed into behaving the ways that society expects her to. She will never fall victim to emotional and verbal abuse. Sandra Brown’s fascinating book, Women Who Love Psychopathspraises independent women who can do this. These women are inspiring role models to follow.

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6. Because she knows the true value of a relationship

No independent woman needs a loving relationship. She wants one, just like everyone else, and will not compromise on that. She is not prepared to get involved just to help with her rent or because her new partner has a car. Above all, she can balance the need to be alone with her own space so that she can maintain her life without sacrificing personal freedom for the sake of a relationship. She can balance the two successfully. This is a model for everyone to follow.

7. Because she has overcome prejudice and discrimination

According to Pew Research, about 40% of Americans believe that women are expected to reach higher standards when they are promoted to top positions. About the same percentage are not yet ready to elect women to prestigious political posts. Approximately half of the women say that they have to go the extra mile to prove themselves when they get promoted to top business positions. Gender equality in the workplace is still a long way off. Independent women are a great role model to follow as they have often had to fight against discrimination and overcome it.

8. Because she knows that she does not have to copy male standards of leadership

The temptation for many women when they get to the top is to copy the male pattern of leadership. They tend to take aggression, toughness, and competitiveness to exaggerated levels. Hilary Genga, who founded Trunkettes swimwear, says that this is unnecessary and a mistake. Relying on gender role models is foolish.

“Be yourself, and have confidence in who you are. Don’t try to be a man. You made it to where you are through hard work and perseverance, but most importantly, you’re there. Don’t conform yourself to a man’s idea of what a leader should look like.” – Hilary Genga

9. Because she is confident

An independent woman has great confidence. It is a fantastic asset. Many successful women have achieved this by using their common sense, intuition, and people skills to great effect. Preparation is key as Sandra Rowlands, CEO of ReachLocal, has remarked.

“I had confidence in my abilities to run the business. I just made sure that any initiative I was trying to move forward was backed up by a solid business case. I was never unprepared for the questions that I knew would come.” – Sandra Rowlands

10. Because she has achieved a healthy work / life balance

Any working person strives to achieve the elusive work/life balance. When an independent woman achieves this, it is usually because they have successfully juggled the dual relationship of running a home and a business at the same time. It is often difficult to achieve; however, 78% of American mothers who use the Internet are convinced that it is possible to be successful in their career and in parenting. One of the secrets of their success is that they concentrate on running an efficient home, rather than a perfect one.

“I have set clear boundaries around family and work, and I get home for dinner with my kids. Most important, I am present when I am home with my kids. It’s the quality of time, not just the quantity that matters. I know there is always more I can get done at work, but I will never be able to redo these years with my kids!” – Jessica Herrin, CEO and founder of Stella & Dot.

Let us know in the comments how independent women have inspired you to be successful.

Featured photo credit: She’s in Fashion/Lauren Hammond via flickr.com

More by this author

Robert Locke

Author of Ziger the Tiger Stories, a health enthusiast specializing in relationships, life improvement and mental health.

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Last Updated on July 20, 2021

How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

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How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

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:

Warming up

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:

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  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

Stay hydrated

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.

Meditate

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.

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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.[1]

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.

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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.[2]

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.

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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:

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  • 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:

Reference

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