It has been said that 20 is the new 30. And while that sounds great to some people, I am grateful to have made it through my 20s — with my sanity in tact.
Don’t get me wrong, your 20s are great. You are young, tender, beautiful and filled with hope. You are open to and welcome new experiences–even bad ones. You feel invincible, carefree and grown up. And you get to do things your way.
And while your 20s are a blast, being “wide-eyed and bushy tailed” gets old–and a bit hazardous.
Your 30’s are here and it’s going to be awesome! Here’s why:
1. You become truly beautiful
Women in their 20s are young and hot and even though youth is starting to gradually fade, women in their 30s began to fully embody true beauty.
Once you hit 30 you have a firm grasp that beauty is more than just skin deep.
The eyes of a woman in her 30s are no longer wide and innocent. They now have a depth brought on by experience and the wisdom that only comes through age. Your dress is still sexy but it has moved from overly revealing to demur, classy and a bit more seductive.
There is a bit more mystery to women in their 30s than the 20 somethings–and intrigue is hot.
2. Women in their 30s have developed a strong sense of self
When you hit 30 you know who you are–or at least have a better idea. By the time you reach 30, you have experienced enough to understand who you are as a person. You are in tune with what you can tolerate and what you will not. You’ve lost some of the urge to follow the “it” crowd and you do what suits you best. You are less afraid of being different and your need to “fit in” has definitely dissipated. The phrase “do you–Boo,” has become your guiding philosophy.
3. Women in their 30s are more focused and goal oriented
When I hit 30, I was in full stride in my career and relationship. I had a better sense of what I wanted in all aspects of life and my decisions were tailored to reach my goals. I knew I wanted to live a life free from debt and financial worry and I wanted to retire while I was still young enough to look decent in a bathing suit. I structured my life, family and finances to meet these goals.
In your 20s having clear focus and being goal oriented is a bit more difficult because you feel young and being a responsible adult still isn’t high on your list of priorities. When you hit 30, there is definitely a shift in your thinking. It’s like you can actually hear the clock ticking and you know it’s time to get things done.
4. Women in their 30s are better in relationships
An amazing thing happened when I hit 30–I fully realized life is not all about me. I now better understand balance and that translates into healthier relationships. You become a better daughter, friend, spouse or girlfriend and mother.
By 30 you don’t have it all figured out but you do have a firm grasp on what you don’t want in a relationship. You are able to look past those sexy abs and full head of hair in search for an individual that is compatible with you in all aspects of life.
5. Women in their 30s are more content and settled
Everything is no longer the end of the world. You have learned to pick your battles, your friends and the drama you allow into your life. You are content to just “Netflix and chill,” in lieu of bar hopping and partying every weekend. You understand that routine is a normal part of your existence and have accepted that a lot of life is of getting up every morning, following your routine and the doing it all over again the next day. AND that thought no longer provokes a panic attack.
6. Women in their 30s have wisdom cultivated by experience
By the time I reached 30, I had seen a lot and done a lot. I was married, had finished college, was working in the career field of my choice, and had spent time traveling abroad. I experienced multiple highs and lows through each of those journeys and by the time I hit 30, I was no longer making the same mistakes and my thought patterns and approach to life had changed.
Experiences stick with you and each experience alters you just a bit. Thirty is the time you settle into who you are and become more aware of the world around you. You have learned some things–and though you don’t know everything–you know enough not to ever wish you were 21 again.
7. Women in their 30s no longer live with wreck- less abandon but take calculated risk
In your 30s you have more to lose and the memory of past pains help you to be a bit more selective in your risk taking. You’ve gone from careless risks to being cautious and calculating. You are smarter, wiser and understand that time is precious.
The choice of whether or not to quit your job and run away with Raul to become a unicorn farmer is so much easier now that you are 30. You already know how that story ends.
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: