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Get Out More: 6 Ways to Be More Social

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Get Out More: 6 Ways to Be More Social

6 Ways to Be More Social

    Whether you’re a web worker, an overworked corporate employee, or just a homey sort, you’ve probably heard the refrain: “Get out more!”

    Yes, you could take a walk, take to drinking alone in a seedy bar, or drive around looking at billboards, but it’s likely that just physically getting out of the house isn’t all you need. No, those people who care about you are telling you to go out and meet some people, to be a little bit more social.

    Being social is good for you, of course. As social animals, our emotional and even physical health depends on social interaction. Our social relationships can help us deal with depression, stress, and plain old loneliness. Having a strong social network can help you find jobs or clients (some 70% of jobs are found through personal contacts, usually friends of friends).

    But some of us have a hard time figuring out how to be more social. Maybe you’re introverted and are pretty comfortable in your own company, most of the time. Maybe your job keeps you away from people – you work at home, or your work ties you to a PC screen all day, or whatever – and you just don’t have a lot of ties to other people to get started with. Maybe you just moved to a new city and don’t know the social landscape very well. Maybe you’re just too busy to get out much.

    Here are six ways to get started, ways to put yourself into a space where social ties are made. You’ll have to take the next steps, of course: showing up regularly (when appropriate), approaching people, speaking out, and so on, but if you put yourself into a situation where such social interaction is expected and normal, you might well find that the rest just follows.

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    1. Join a club.

    No duh, right? Yet American civic participation has dropped sharply over the last few decades, and other countries’ rates aren’t that far ahead.

    There is a club for almost every possible passion, from anthropology to zoology. Like to dress up in animal costumes and flirt with other similarly costumed folks? There’s a club for you. Enjoy collecting Japanese war memorabilia? There’s a club for you. Into gardening, feminism, or farming history? There’s a club.. well, you get the picture.

    The question is, is there a club for you near where you live? Check out your local alternative weekly’s “events” listing; many of the ongoing events will be club meetings. Check your library district’s website, too. And your local Parks and Recreation department might have listings for clubs. Or Google national associations related to your interests and see if they have a local chapter.

    If all else fails, and you’re feeling entrepreneurial, start your own club. Contact your local library, place of worship, or community center and see what you have to do to reserve a space (they’re usually free for community groups), put up a free website, call your local alternative weekly’s events desk and see about getting listed, and you’re off.

    2. Attend a Meetup.

    If a club sounds a little too… well, “clubby” for your tastes, maybe you’d be happier at a meetup. Meetups are semi-informal gatherings of like-minded people, often at a bar or restaurant, who get together to just chat and get to know each other.

    Meetup.com is the place to go to find meetups in your area. You can search by topic or by distance from your zipcode; I recommend the latter, since you might find groups devoted to topics that you wouldn’t have thought to search for. If you’re in a reasonably large metropolitan center, you should find dozens of local meetups on all manner of topics, from blogging to politics to knitting.

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    The typical meetup group meets once a month, either at a fixed location or by polling members to decide on an appropriate venue each month. You might be asked to pay a couple of dollars to help defray the organizer’s costs – Meetup.com charges a few dollars a month for listing and administering the group.

    3. Take a class.

    Whether you choose a traditional, semester-length class at a community college or university, a short-term workshop series through your local adult extension, or a one- or two-day seminar through an organization like Learning Annex, taking a class is a great way to meet people – while learning something new at the same time.

    Unless you’re under 22, my advice is to take evening classes or adult extension classes; these courses are most likely to include a large number of adults taking classes for their own professional development or personal improvement. While younger students can be incredible people, you may find that you have very little in common with them, and that they really don’t understand the kinds of pressures you face as a working adult and possibly parent. (And they can’t get into bars, which cuts out an excellent site for post-class camaraderie!)

    4. Teach a class.

    Nothing is more social than sharing your own hard-earned knowledge with people who can benefit from it most. Community colleges, adult extensions, and local government organizations (such as Parks and Recreation) are always on the lookout for people to teach either full-blown courses or shorter workshops. Pick up a copy of your local college’s catalog, or check out your city government’s class offerings online, to get an idea of what kind of courses they tend to offer and what you might be able to add to their line-up.

    The pay is often not very good, but that’s not the point. Think of it as something you do a night a week, where you meet interesting people and help them to advance their lives and careers. Or think of it as a chance to build up your professional presence: while you shouldn’t promote yourself in class, it can’t hurt to have a couple dozen people or so who know you’re a web designer or writer or marketing expert or business consultant or whatever – they have friends! And it looks pretty good on your resume.

    Most of all, though, you’ll be in the company of interesting adults once or twice a week, and while you want to be careful about too much fraternizing if you’re giving grades, the in-class interaction can be very satisfying. And if you’re not giving grades, there’s no reason at all not to take your students up on that offer of a beer or a cup of coffee after class – and you will be invited.

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    5. Look up local bloggers or twitterers.

    Since you already spend a good chunk of your online time reading blogs or tweeting, why not add a few local bloggers and twitterers to your feeds?

    There are a number of services to find blogs by location, some based on the blogger’s profile, others on geo-tagging information added to their feeds. I like these:

    • Feedmap.net: Enter a zip code or city name and hit search. This is a pretty new service, so listings seem a little thin, but it also seems better geared to non-US locations than some of the others.
    • Outside.in: Outside.in aggregates local news and blogs into a pretty user-friendly interface. When I visited, it auto-detected my location (useful, if a little scary!). You can create a profile page that will help other local bloggers find you, too.
    • PlaceBlogger: A search engine for blogs specifically about certain places. I had better luck searching by city than by zip code; there doesn’t seem t obe a way to search by “distance from” your zip code, just within it.

    If you’re on Twitter, you can use Summize’s advanced search function to find Twitterers “Near this place” (look at the “Places” box) . You’ll get the latest tweets from everyone near your chosen location; follow some and see what develops.

    Of course, reading local blogs and tweets doesn’t get you out of the house, but you may well start building relationships with people who are close enough that you can get together of off-line fun and mayhem.

    6. Go to conferences.

    Some people hate conferences. I don’t get that – where else do you get to interact with dozens or hundreds of people who are all interested in the same things you are?

    Seek out local conferences, take a stack of business cards, and go spend a day in the expo hall (which is usually free or pretty cheap). Hand your card out to all and sundry, and collect theirs as well. When you get home, send them each an email, or give them a call, just saying how nice it was to meet them.

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    But that’s getting ahead of ourselves, isn’t it? At the conference itself, make a point of asking vendors what their product does. Don’t waste their time if their product is totally useless to you or your company, but don’t feel like you’re intruding, either, if there’s any possible connection. Learn as much as you can – you never know what you might learn that you can use later. And that’s what the vendors are there for.

    Try approaching a few of your fellow conference-goers, too. They’re all there to network with people in their industry, so go ahead.

    Get out there!

    The hardest part of being more social is usually just getting out the front door of your house. Once you’re in the right context, unless you’re painfully shy, interacting with people will be a given. Push yourself a little to introduce yourself, speak up when necessary, and generally make yourself known – we rarely end up making the fools of ourselves that we’re so afraid of.

    There are other ways to be social, of course, but I’ve tried to focus on the most productive of them. Binge drinking, gambling, going to the movies or to exotic dance clubs – these might get you out of the house, but they’re highly unlikely to form the basis of lasting social relationships. What tips do others have for people looking to improve their social life and not sure where to start?

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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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