Many women think that the key to beauty lies in the bottom of their makeup bag. There are a million and one reasons why women believe this: they’re judged on their appearance, pop culture and mass media support those judgements, and big business makes its money off shamelessly promoting the before and after effects of their miraculous products. The truth is, being beautiful doesn’t come from a lipstick tube, mascara wand, or blush brush. The following seven factors create a more lasting impression than any amount of makeup ever could:
1. Her passions
A woman who is without passion is one dull woman. At times life can feel like a Mack truck, ready to roll over us all at a moment’s notice. It’s hard for a woman to slow down and take time to do the things that truly bring her joy, but when she neglects the part of herself that ignites her, then she is living a passionless existence. A woman who takes the time to follow her passions, whatever they may be, understands that life is too precious to speed along without enjoying the ride. A woman who enjoys all that life has to offer, not just her partner or her relationships, is a woman who others admire. Why? Because passion is contagious. Watching someone pursue her dreams is just about the most beautiful experience human beings can have.
2. Her compassion
A cold-hearted woman may love herself, but who loves her back? Think about this. If a woman is incapable of feeling for others, who will feel for her? Compassion, whether one is a mother, lover, colleague, mentor, or friend, is the adhesive glue that holds relationships together. Though self-absorbed celebrities are splayed over the front covers of the magazine rack, most men don’t find narcissists all that appealing. The reality is, if a woman loves herself more than she is capable of loving another, the only beauty she can boast of having is skin deep. A woman who understands how to give and receive love is much more desirable than a woman who has none to spare.
3. Her mind
There is a popular myth in our culture that a beautiful woman isn’t smart. In fact, this stereotype condemns women in two ways because the implication is that smart women aren’t beautiful. This is a lose-lose scenario. If a woman looks too appealing then she can’t have anything going on upstairs, and if she “has her nose in a book” then she can’t be a looker. A woman who doesn’t take time to cultivate her mind is like a writer who never reads books. Neglecting one’s intellect is similar to shouting, “I don’t need to understand the world — the world needs to understand me!” Life doesn’t work like this. The pursuit of knowledge and truth is not only attractive, but essential to our existence. Knowledge is empowerment and empowerment is sexy.
4. Her fun-loving spirit
Ever tried to have fun with Debbie Downer? It’s really hard to share the same space with a Negative Nancy and here’s why: No one loves a mope. This is not to say that a woman must be Positive Peggie all the time. A woman can and will taste disappointment in her life just like everyone else. The point is, a sense of adventure and appreciation for all that life has to offer is more attractive than relentlessly sticking to routine and taking life’s opportunities for granted. If a woman can’t relax enough to take a spontaneous walk with her child or sing her favorite song in the shower, who wants to join her? Her child doesn’t dare ask her, and her husband doesn’t dare climb in the back of the tub — capiche?
5. Her resilience
Nothing is more beautiful than a woman who refuses to give up. Tenacity, whether in one’s career, marriage, or physical health, is inspiring. The world loves a fighter. Please don’t misunderstand. This isn’t a call to arms or some sort of ultra-feminist mantra. Fighting over what to have for dinner or which movie to see afterwards, that’s just not pretty. Give in a little, girl. Resilience isn’t about a woman’s control or refusal to cede control over to another. It’s about believing that life can never defeat her unless she allows herself to become defeated. Accepting the worst or the best in equal stride, acting in such a way that either outcome will not control her, that’s beautiful.
6. Her confidence
Speaking of beauty, let’s talk about boasting. There’s a fine line between bragging and being confident. Bragging is when a woman deliberately describes herself in a self-congratulatory manner so that others will do just that: congratulate her. Seeking out praise for the sake of one’s ego isn’t just selfish — it’s ugly. Confidence isn’t about wanting others to notice us and wanting them to tell us how good we look, speak, think, or act. Confidence is about a woman feeling proud of how she looks, speaks, thinks, or acts. A woman who doesn’t need other people’s reassurance to help her feel this pride in herself is infinitely more appealing than a woman who incessantly seeks others’ approval.
7. Her energy
Finally, the most beautiful quality about a beautiful woman can be summed up by the total effect of all of the above. It’s her energy. A woman who has an unmatchable vitality for life is and should be idolized. Set her in stone or marble, if she will stay still long enough. Cast her in bronze, something timeless. When a woman follows her passion, shows compassion, pursues her intellect, keeps a sense of adventure, refuses to give up, and believes herself to be worthy, then her energy will be the spark that lights up everyone and everything around her.
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: