Families are the pillars of life, we hate them and we love them. It’s undeniable that at certain points in life we have wished for a change of family or even a completely different lifestyle. We all have that uncle who criticizes our every move and that one auntie that bakes the best cookies.
Despite relations or how the family is formed, the one thing we can guarantee is that beneath all of the differences we may have, family constitutes the people we can count on. For this reason, families often make the commitment to reunite at least once a year in a nice or central location for bonding time.
You may have never considered it before, but Canada offers a variety of scenic and interesting locations to create memories. A country rich in different cultures, it can represent diversity within our own families.
So why is Canada perfect for family reunions? Here are 4 reasons:
1. The Diverse of Culture and Food
In any family, food plays a major role. We all have that one traditional curry or that one cake recipe that has been passed down for generations. The difference among individuals in our family defines our experience and our adventures with them. Canada is similar in that sense; its diversity can represent one big happy family.
In the French regions of Quebec you can find authentic French delicacies including unique cheeses as well as mesmerizing French Revolution architecture. The subtle beauty of the scenery can remind you of your own history. On the other hand, if you’re looking to indulge in simplistic and rustic flavors, you can head to British Columbia, where English fry-ups and evening tea are in order. Each part of Canada tends to feed a spoonful of history along with the delicious food, and all of it is great to share with family.
2. Cozy Weather
While we all enjoy the nice weather summer brings, we are often times too active and too busy in the warm weather to focus on the simple things in life. Even during summer, Canada tends to maintain cool and cozy weather. Many Canadians prefer taking time to focus and relax rather than running around trying to take part in various summer activities.
The weather, which varies according to season, creates opportunities for different family activities. For example, during winter you can find yourself enjoying shopping at winter markets and during spring you may find the weather perfect for a visit to Canada’s various tulip gardens.
Whatever the diversion, the pleasant weather in Canada affords opportunities that allow you to catch up on old times as well as create new memories with your family members.
3. Beautiful Nature and Plenty of Activities
Canada, as we all know, is abundant with natural wonders. It’s one of the countries in the world which focuses a huge number of resources on environmental protection and ecological production. You can expect a plethora of outdoor activities as well as resplendent wildlife.
For example, my family is rather athletic. We enjoy a fine hike on our reunion days and love indulging in activities that spike our adrenaline. Therefore planning a reunion in Canada was the perfect opportunity for us. We enjoyed a fine hike up the mountains and then retreating to the sauna after our hike. If we are headed to Canada during ski season, you can definitely spot us with our snowboards and skis racing down the slopes.
If you’re not into such activities and prefer a laid back reunion instead, you can opt for guided tours where you’ll be able to enjoy the wildlife without much effort. At the end of the day, you’ll definitely be captivated by the beauty Canada has to offer. A trip to the famous Niagara Falls would definitely be a memorable event for you and your family. Plus you can also enjoy the fine restaurants and spectacular views that the area resorts have to offer.
In addition, you can also create a couples evening as the children enjoy the amusements around the falls. There are many opportunities to enjoy quality adult time while the children enjoy their own activities.
4. Budget Friendly
For most families, finances play an important role when planning a holiday. It’s definitely important to maintain a strict spending budget, especially during family reunions to avoid any confusion or overspending. Sometimes it’s hard to find countries where a large reunion would be both luxurious and affordable.
Canada fits the bill for both. Although many may claim Canada to be on the more expensive side, it definitely is reasonable compared to other countries if your trip is planned right. Just as Sweden and Denmark, if you’re prepared and manage to find great contacts you’ll find Canada an amazing place to be on a budget.
Personally, I found couch surfing to be a great way to make connections. The couch-surfing community doesn’t only offer housing or hosting opportunities but it also offers a chance to meet the locals and make friends. It’s perfect if you’re there with a large family and looking for a friend to show you around and get the best deals. In return you would probably only need to invite your new friend to your family’s gathering.
Canada is a great place to travel individually as well as with the family, so why not make your next family reunion in Canada and create a memorable, affordable experience?
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: