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10 Life Lessons You Can Learn from Young World-Changers

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10 Life Lessons You Can Learn from Young World-Changers

It is hard to change the world, some people might say. But for young minds like Joan of Arc, Anne Frank, St Thérèse of Lisieux making the world a better place to live in is actually possible. Age simply doesn’t matter if you want to create a huge impact on the environment and on other people’s lives. To prove this point, there is a long list of children who have successfully made a huge difference through their remarkable actions.

Be inspired and moved by these innocent and hopeful young ones who made an impressive and exceptional mark in their generations. Their accomplishments will surely change your outlook in life.

1. “Children should have pens in their hands not tools” – Iqbal Masih

Iqbal is a brave and eloquent Pakistani boy who made a big contribution and global impact on child slavery. Through his encouraging speeches, he brought awareness to uneducated slave laborers about their human rights and freedom.  At the age of 12, he became a prominent leader of a movement that fight against child labor in Pakistan.

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2. “Every child has the right to live and that is the right for life.” – Thandiwe Chama

Thandiwe is a young activist from Zambia who is known for her efforts in actively promoting the rights of children to be educated. She firmly believes that education is for everyone. All children have the right to be heard and should have access to educational opportunities. Apart from her advocacy that education is for all, she is also active in speaking to churches about AIDS.

3. “We are normal. We are human beings. We can walk, we can talk…. We have needs just like everyone else. We are all the same.”- Nkosi Johnson

Nkosi was a South African kid who was born with HIV-positive disease. His situation didn’t hinder him to become an inspiration and tell the world to fight against AIDS. In fact, he became a speaker in the International AIDS conference reminding people to be open and have an equal treatment to AIDS victims.

4. “One child, one teacher, one pen and one book can change the world. Education is the only solution. Education first.”- Malala Yousafzai

Malala is a Pakistani teenager who is very outspoken about girls basic rights to education. She’s known for being a women and children’s right activist. Despite of death threats from Taliban, she refused to be silenced. After surviving the assassination attempt, she became a spokesperson for human rights and education.

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5. “I want them to realize that they are never too young to make change.” – Dylan Mahalingam

Dylan is a young philanthropist and social activist who became famous when he found Lil’ MDGs when he was barely 9 years of age. It is a non-profit organization that aims to empower children and youth to work together towards the Millennium development goals. Dylan has been working with various children all around the world and resolving issue that includes hunger, poverty, education, gender equality, environmental sustainability, so on and so forth.

6. “You grown-ups say you love us, but I challenge you to make your actions reflect your words.” -Severn Suzuki

At the age of nine, Severn founded the ECO or the Environmental Children’s Organization, a group of children committed to learn and teach other kids about environmental issues. She’s been actively participating to variety of environmental projects and speaking to many schools, conference, and international meetings. When she was 12 years old she attended the Earth Summit and gave a speech  to the delegates. After that she became well-known as The Girl Who Silenced the World for 5 Minutes.

7. “AIDS can destroy a family if you let it, but luckily for my sister and me, Mom taught us to keep going. Don’t give up, be proud of who you are, and never feel sorry for yourself. ” – Ryan White

Ryan is an American teenage boy who had contracted with AIDS through blood transfusions when he was 13 years old. Aside from his struggle with his illness, Ryan has to faced enormous pressure and judgment from people around him. During the short course of his life, he helped in educating people about AIDS and it resulted for a good cause. The Government passed the Ryan White Comprehensive AIDS Resources Emergency Care (CARE) Act, a program that provides health care resources to Americans with HIV/AIDS who have no sufficient health care and financial resources.

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8. “Hope is real, peace is possible, and life is worthy!” – Mattie Stepanek

Mattie is a boy poet and profound thinker who has a rare form of muscular dystrophy. In his brief lifespan, Mattie became an inspiration to many because of “Heartsongs”, his poetry collections, and his NY bestselling books that touched tons of people’s lives. He spent his remaining years on earth being an advocate for hope, peace, and people with disabilities.

9. “You can make a difference in the world, but only if you really try hard and really want to. Just pick a dream and then go for it. Oh, and never give up!” – Ryan Hreljac

Ryan was only 6 years old when he decided to help people in Africa to have clean water by building a well in a village. He began raising money for water and sanitation projects for people affected by global water crisis. Because of his perseverance and determination to help, he successfully built his first well in a primary school in Uganda. He didn’t stop there. Now, he continues to raise money to support water sources through his organization, Ryan’s Well Foundation.

10. “I think it is important to have something to strive for. By planting a garden or just some seeds in a pot you can make a difference.” – Katie Stagliano

Katie is a young gardener and an anti-hunger activist. When she was 9, she donated her 40 pound cabbage to a local soup kitchen and it helped feed more than 200 people. After that, her dream to help people fight against hunger was born. She started a vegetable garden and donate the harvest to the needy.

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These kids came from different backgrounds and they all became good role models to humanity. They know their rights and they have brave hearts to speak their minds out to fight for what they think is right. Their simple acts only reminds us that no one is never too young or old to make a difference.

Featured photo credit: Little Girl in Amusement Park BY VIKTOR HANACEK via picjumbo.com

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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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