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10 Success Tips from Today’s Most Inspirational Women

10 Success Tips from Today’s Most Inspirational Women

In the past, women in high-level positions were few and far between. But now, more than ever, there are more women making their way to the top and how they lead is immensely inspirational. Read on to learn the success tips and inspiring nuggets of wisdom 10 of these amazing women acquired through their journeys, choices, and career paths.

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    Anne Sweeney: Ask questions

    Stay curious and ask questions. As co-chair of Disney Media Networks and president of Disney-ABC Television Group, Anne Sweeney says she’s “driven by curiosity” because “it gets people excited” and “leads to new ideas, new jobs, new industries.” Excitement keeps thing moving forward and evolving. Sweeney adds, “The smartest thing you can ever do is to constantly ask questions.” Asking questions is one of the best way to gain deeper insights. The best detectives and scientists rely heavily on asking questions because they know it will eventually lead to a breakthrough.

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      Claire Watts: Listen up

      One of the most important tips many successful women agree on is to listen. As the CEO of retail and media company QVC, Claire Watts schedules open door times every week. She does this so anyone in the company who wants to come talk to her or ask her something, can do so. She learns about social media from the interns and develops her mobile strategy with input from the tech team. No one should be beneath you and you should always keep your eyes and ears open.

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        Tina Fey: Do your own thing

        In her bestselling memoir, Bossypants, Tina Fey writes, “Do your thing and don’t care if they like it.” People may do things differently than you, they won’t always agree with you, and that’s okay. Focus on being true to who you are, stay confident in your abilities and just keep doing your own thing. If everyone did everything the same way, everything would be dull and boring. Own up the good things about you that make you stand out.

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          JK Rowling: Persist, persist, persist

          Things won’t always be unicorns and rainbows, but don’t give up! JK Rowling began working on her series of books starring young wizard-in-training Harry Potter in 1990 and completed Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, the seventh book in the popular series, in 2007. That’s 17 years! That’s longer than it takes for someone to complete undergraduate and medical school! You’re bound to have setbacks and frustrations, but keep your eye on the prize and keep your endurance up. Sure, failure is always a possibility, but the easiest way to fail is to give up.

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            Sheryl Sandberg: Ask, “What would you do if you weren’t afraid?”

            Facebook’s COO, Sheryl Sandberg, encourages women to chase their ambitions in her bestselling book, Lean In. She suggests putting fear aside and suggests, “Ask yourself, ‘What would I do if I weren’t afraid?’ And then go do it.” Fear keeps us from being creative and successful. No matter your ambitions, there will always be obstacles and risk, but giving in to the fear already sets you up to fail.

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              Sophia Amoruso: Nothing is out of your job description

              Sophia Amoruso, founder, CEO, and Chief Troublemaker of the online retail store, Nasty Gal, wrote in her inspirational book #GIRLBOSS, “You want to know what four words I probably hate the most? ‘That’s not my job.’ Nasty Gal is not a place where these four words fly. At the end of the day, we’re all here for one reason and one reason only–to make the company succeed.” Amoruso hits the nail on the head. Doing “your job” is often doing things that aren’t in the job description. The main thing to focus to on is to get things done. We are human beings, not robots. We have to be flexible with what tasks and obstacles are thrown at us in order to truly accomplish what we need and to succeed.

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                Kate White: Keep challenging yourself

                As the long-time editor of the popular women’s magazine, Cosmopolitan, Kate White says the way to know it’s time to leave a job is that you’re happy. This sounds counterintuitive, but often when you’re happy and know the job a little too well, you begin to feel comfortable. When you know exactly how to do the job, you’re not as challenged. Challenge keeps us on our toes, energized and motivated to move forward and evolve.

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                  Oprah Winfrey: Admit mistakes

                  No one is perfect; everyone makes mistakes. Part of Oprah Winfrey’s mass appeal is that so many people relate to her. Despite being one of the richest and most powerful people in the world, Oprah makes mistakes and admits them. Her acknowledgment of her mistakes makes her more likable, thus securing her power as one of the world’s most influential and inspirational people.

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                    Kay Cannon: Get help

                    No one said you need to be super-human to be a super. Get help and learn to use your resources. Kay Cannon, a comedy writer who wrote Pitch Perfect and wrote on the hit TV shows New Girl and 30 Rock, says, “I don’t do it all.  Not even close. I work on a show with a kickass writing staff, I have a kickass partner of a husband who is there for me at all times both personally and professionally.” You don’t have to go at it alone. There are talented people at your disposal; use them to help you grow.

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                      Suze Orman: Lower the shield

                      Like Oprah, financial guru Suze Orman strives to connect with the public on a personal level. People trust her. She often shares the story about when she was 13 and watched her father dive back into a burning chicken shack to retrieve a cash register. In that instant, Orman says she understood how money, or the lack of it, could become more important than life itself for those who don’t know how to properly manage it. Orman constantly strives to help people manage their money while placing it into the proper perspective. By sharing something personal and lowering the shield, you’ll naturally develop a connection with your listeners and reinforce trust.

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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)

                      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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