You are a born artist. You know it. You feel it, even if sometimes doubt creeps into your life that you weren’t “meant to be an artist.” Let me tell you something. If you were born an artist, you will forever have the potential to be an artist. It’s up to you to be able to recognize those qualities within yourself and nurture them throughout your life. So, how do you know if you are a natural born artist? Here are 7 signs you were meant to express yourself.
1.You Enjoy The Beginning As Much As You Do The End
Do you know what our society focuses on? Results. We want to know the Return on our Investment, the big reward, the ending that confirms we did a job well done. But the reality is, by focusing on the end you completely miss the true reward of the journey—and even more, the messiness of the beginning. A natural born artist loves the beginning (and more often than not, struggles to get to the end). Artists love diving into new projects, exploring the unknown, and take as much pleasure in approaching a blank canvas as they do stepping back and looking at the final product. Actually, there is no “ending” for artists. A finished painting or song or sculpture is just another stepping stone on the journey.
2. You Love Appreciating Other People’s Art And Are Somewhat Hesitant To Share Your Own
The true mark of an artist is this: You love appreciating the work others create and yet you are a little nervous to show your own. It’s a common trait among those who pour their heart and soul into everything they do. A natural born artist feels compelled to connect with other likeminded people, and thoroughly enjoys hearing about someone else’s process and ideas because it fuels their own. But when it comes time to share yours with the group—gasp! You freeze up. Well, take this as a sign of approval. If you’re scared or nervous or hesitant to show what you’ve made, it’s because it was made from the heart. That’s a good thing.
3. You Are Sensitive To Your Surroundings
Everywhere you go, you feel in your skin and bones what is happening. You can feel people’s joy, their pain, their fears and their excitement. When you are with a large group of people, you can feel the way everyone is interacting with each other. When you are by yourself, you are very in-tune with your own emotions. You love spending one-on-one time with people because it gives you the opportunity to share an intimate connection. You are sensitive in all these ways and more and that’s what fuels your art. No matter what you are feeling, you can channel it into whatever you create.
4. You Are Your Biggest Fan And Your Own Worst Critic
Natural born artists often times get criticized for being overly confident, cocky, even narcissistic, because they love their work. They believe in what they are making and they are ambitious about putting it out into the world (even if they are slightly fearful to do so, as mentioned in #2). But with that element of self confidence there is also a high level of doubt and forceful critique. You are constantly faced with feelings of imperfection, wondering if what you are making is “good enough,” and have convinced yourself time and time again that it’s time you just give up…
5. You Always Return To Your Craft
Building off #4, a true sign of a natural born artist is someone who, no matter how hard they try or how many times they are told to quit, they can’t. As an artist, you know deep down that regardless of whether you become a multi-million dollar mainstream success or a creative soul that no one knows except your closest group of family and friends, you always return to your craft. You pick the brush back up, you write another song, you tell another story—and no matter how much time goes by, it always feels like home. You remember why you loved your art so much in the first place.
6. You Have Notebook After Notebook Of Ideas
An obvious sign of a natural born artist is the notebook. You have dozens of them—all over your apartment, in your bedroom at your parent’s house, and always one in your backpack. This is where you jot down notes of short stories you want to write, inventions you wish someone would invent, lists of songs you love, all the places you want to travel to and long rants against the barista who didn’t get your order right and the government for making you pay taxes. Your notebook is your safe haven and it’s filled with all the scraps of your artistry in progress.
7. You Care More About Personal Expression Than You Do Acquiring Money Or Belongings
Everyone wants to be “successful” in their own way—and to a natural born artist, that means having your voice heard by the world. You would rather be poor doing what you love than wealthy showing up to a soul-sucking cubicle every day. You care less about brand new clothes and more about brand new paint brushes or guitar strings. You spend your money on your art. You invest in yourself. You find coffee shops and art galleries where you can practice in front of an audience, and having someone give you feedback on what you’ve made is worth more to you than any paycheck (although you still have to eat, so you like that too). The point is, you know your purpose, and that purpose is to share who you are through your creativity.
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: