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8 Reasons To Start To Do Voluntary Work Now

8 Reasons To Start To Do Voluntary Work Now
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I volunteered for a local organization for two years, doing art projects with adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. I went to the organization’s learning center once a week, which gave me time to still work full-time as a graphic designer. Over time, I realized that I loved my volunteer work more than my paid work, and took a year to be an employee of the organization. During this time, I actually worked as the volunteer coordinator! I had such a passion for the organization as well as volunteering that the job was a perfect fit. Since then, I’ve met so many people – potential volunteers, lifelong volunteers, and other coordinators – who share this passion. And now I’d like to share some of the benefits of voluntary work, in hopes you’ll seek out organizations in your community that can benefit from your care and passion.

1. You get to network and socialize with others.

When you volunteer at organizations in your community, you meet a lot of people you might not otherwise get to know. For example, I’ve always worked as a graphic designer, so I knew a certain type of people. Yet when I volunteered, not only did I meet a variety of adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities, I also met employees and volunteers from other walks of life. If I had stayed cocooned in my 9 to 5 life, I never would have met these people! Now they’re some of my closest friends, and they’ve helped me expand my social life, as well as led to many important professional contacts. Getting outside of your usual circle really helps expand your life.

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2. There are great career benefits.

I got a great career benefit from volunteering, which was getting hired by the organization I volunteered for! This is actually very common, and other volunteers were hired during the time I worked there. It was because employees got to see how good the volunteers were when they worked for free, and knew they would be hard-working employees. Even if you don’t want to work at the organizations you volunteer for, there are still great benefits to volunteer work in general. You can list volunteer work on your resume just like it was a job – include how long you were there, what duties you did, and what you got out of it. Any employer would be happy to see that you’re the type of giving person who will work just for the good of it, and that will give you talking points in job interviews.

3. You gain experience.

Voluntary work will give you a variety of experience, whether you’re doing something you’ve never done before, or even if you’re using your everyday skills for a new purpose. Never be afraid to ask questions or ask for help when you’re a volunteer. Make sure you understand what you’re expected to do so you can get the most out of it, as well as help the most you can. Then you’ll have experience that you can use the more you volunteer at the organization, or take it with you when you volunteer elsewhere, or even take it back to your regular job.

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4. You find an outlet for your passion.

When I was a volunteer, I helped out with a weekly art class. I love art, even though I’m not especially artistic. This was a great way for me to find an outlet for my passion. I’m not good enough to become a famous painter or anything on my own, but since I loved it, that passion came through when I worked with the adults with disabilities, and that was enough for them. They didn’t expect anything from me except care and enthusiasm, so it was the perfect outlet for me! What passions do you have that you can share with others? You don’t have to be incredibly talented, as long as you have the desire to help others and share your drive. Think about what you love and who might benefit from your passions, and you’ll easily be able to make a list of organizations that would love to have you as a volunteer.

5. You improve your vision.

Volunteering in a new field helps you improve your vision. Voluntary work usually involves non-profits, which means you’re helping people less fortunate than you. Even the most charitable, caring people often get too wrapped up in their daily lives to think of those who have less than us. That’s nothing to be ashamed of, because it’s normal. But volunteering means you’re around people you wouldn’t usually be around, so you’re exposed to different walks of life. This helps you understand your own life and path that much more. You might find that you’re in the wrong field altogether, and change the direction of your life!

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6. You fulfill your potential.

Just like following your passion, voluntary work can help you fulfill your potential. Getting paid to do certain duties is one thing, but do you leave your job every day feeling like you’re tapped out, that you’ve done all you can do, and that you’ve helped others? It’s rare to feel that fulfilled from a paid position. Volunteer work helps you be more well-rounded, which means you can still work full-time at one position while doing something different for a local organization. Doing a variety of different things will help you feel like you’re using your full potential.

7. You get satisfaction.

Voluntary work is about helping others, but it’s ok to feel good about what you do. You should get satisfaction from helping others. Make sure you allow yourself to accept thanks and compliments from the organization you volunteer for, and let yourself feel proud of your hard work. You’re going above and beyond by helping out for nothing in return, so soak up that appreciation and pat yourself on the back!

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8. You help others.

It’s obvious, right? Volunteering is about helping others. But it’s a great reason to do voluntary work. It’s so easy to get caught up in the daily grind, getting swept away by small problems that seem important to you but don’t really matter in the scheme of things. But helping others out of the good in your heart is an amazing reason to do anything, and hopefully this reason alone will inspire you to go out and volunteer today!

Featured photo credit: BluEyedA73 via flickr.com

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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)
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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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