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7 Life-Changing Skills You Can Learn Even If You’re Broke

7 Life-Changing Skills You Can Learn Even If You’re Broke
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Skills are the gateway to a better quality career and life.

The problem is, money is tight for most of us after covering rent/mortgage, car payments, and just maintaining our quality of life. But don’t worry, there are many ways for you to acquire new skills without breaking the bank.

Here are seven life-changing skills you can learn even if you’re broke (and where to learn them).

1. Public speaking

Speaker giving a talk on corporate Business Conference. Audience at the conference hall. Business and Entrepreneurship event.

    When Warren Buffett was asked to give one piece of advice to recent graduates, he said that improving your ability to communicate and speak publicly is one of the most valuable skill sets you can develop.

    Most of us don’t have regular opportunities to improve our speaking skills, but there are cheap options you can take advantage of to start practicing immediately.

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    Where to go: The International Toastmasters organization puts you in a tight-knit community of supportive people with the same goal as you: to improve public speaking skills. Having been a Toastmaster member myself, it’s one of the most affordable ways to get consistent feedback and practice around a great group of people.

    2. Personal finance

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      As basic as it seems, getting your personal finances down is something many people haven’t yet handled. It’s one thing to remember that you should spend less than you make, it’s another to know the details of how much you should be saving, where you should be allocating your funds, etc.

      Where to go: A great book that will teach you how to automate your personal finance is I Will Teach You To Be Rich by Ramit Sethi, and as scammy as it sounds, it delivers real value. A free app worth checking out is Mint.com, which automatically integrates your bank accounts and analyzes your spending, budgeting, and income for you in a visual and easy-to-understand application.

      3. Investing

      Making trading online on the smart phone. New ways to make economy and trading

        Once you have your personal finances in order, it’s time to start investing. None of us can get the wealth we want without investing our way there. If you’re not 100% sure which avenue you should pursue (stocks, bonds, real estate, etc.), it’s worth investing some of your time to learn about it before you get into the game.

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        Where to go: Check out a tool like Investopedia, which has an abundance of resources to teach you the terminology of investing, and even have a virtual stock market platform that allows you to invest “fake” money into the stock market. Wealthfront is another great option to go to, which automates your investments for you depending on your goals, risk-tolerance, etc.

        4. Foreign language

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          We’re quickly entering a multilingual era, where everything from culture, business, and people are integrating globally. Whether you’re looking to advance your career, form a deeper connection with your family & friends, or looking to travel in the near future, learning a foreign language is a life-changer.

          Where to go: The good news is, learning a language has never been easier. Take advantage of free options like this Learn A Language Challenge, delivering 10 new most common words in your inbox every morning. Or if you’re busy, like most people, you can check out Duolingo, which is a gamified application, or Rype, which offers unlimited private language lessons 24/7.

          5. Web/Mobile development

          A few shots of 500px team working on exciting new things at HQ here in Toronto

            Have a great idea, but no idea how to build it?

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            Instead of spending tens of thousands of dollars on developers or agencies, why not take the time to learn it yourself? Learning how to code has never been more accessible and affordable, and luckily it’s also in huge demand.

            Where to go: Check out free options like Codeacademy, which has you building real applications and websites on their platform, while giving you real-time feedback.

            6. Speed reading

            Reading room with open window

              Books are a game-changer in our lives and careers. They condense the knowledge of experts and thought leaders into one place, and can significantly improve the quality of our lives. The problem is, books can consume a lot of time, especially if we’re busy with our work and personal lives.

              One way to overcome this is to increase our reading speed. The faster you read, the more books you can read in less time.

              Where to go: First, you should take this quick reading speed test to see where you’re currently at. With speed reading, you can either go the technology route, with apps like Spreeder, or you can try to improve your own reading speed through free courses.

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              7. Meditating

              Yoga exercises at the city park

                Meditating has been scientifically proven to increase happiness levels, reduce stress, and enhance productivity to get more done throughout the day. While it was once an uncommon practice, meditation is becoming more mainstream in our culture–for the better.

                Where to go: There are free (with premium options) apps like Calm or Headspace, which will guide you through a meditation practice if you’re just getting started. All you need is 10 minutes a day, and you’ll quickly begin to build a habit that will positively impact your life.

                Which of these life-changing skills were your favorite? Share this with someone that’s also trying to learn something new!

                More by this author

                Sean Kim

                Sean is the founder and CEO of Rype, a language learning app. He's an entrepreneur and blogger.

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                Last Updated on July 20, 2021

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

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